How Alisha Ramos, Founder of Girls’ Night In, Takes Care of Her Mental Health
Alisha Ramos is the Founder of Girls’ Night In (GNI), a brand built on the belief that as our lives get busier, the more important it is to take a break and chill out. Ramos launched GNI in January 2017 as a newsletter to 150 people. The newsletter now reaches over 120,000 women each week and GNI hosts book club meetups each month in cities across the country. Here, we asked Ramos about founding Girls’ Night In, community, and how she balances ambition and self-care.
What led you to create Girls’ Night In?
I started Girls’ Night In because at the time in 2017, I was 27 years old and searching for better ways to take care of myself as someone who was working hard all the time and feeling like I was on the edge of burnout. 2017 was also an incredibly stressful year for many people because of the political news cycle. So Girls’ Night In ended up resonated with many people who also felt tired, overwhelmed, and stressed. I wanted to build a brand and community that celebrated slowing down and taking care of yourself on your own terms, and building a network around you, which I think is the spirit of a true “girls’ night in.”
You’ve said you founded Girls’ Night In to help women “chill out and take care of themselves.” What does self-care look and feel like to you?
Self-care looks so different to me on any given day. This past weekend, it just meant not doing any work and practicing breathing exercises in moments when I felt anxious or stressed. Self-care lately has also meant investing in my friendships — we’re all so busy at this stage in our lives as people are getting married, having children, excelling in their careers, etc. but I try to find time a few times a week to send check-in texts to my group chats and schedule some time to get together during the week or weekends for a dinner or drink.
Girls’ Night In focuses on two elements of self-care: solitude and strong friendships. How does the brand and community you’ve built cater to each of these?
We like to strike a balance! It’s funny that GNI has been interpreted as a brand that celebrates solitude, because in my mind it’s always been Girls’ (plural) Night In — celebrating your community of friends around you. Our brand caters to each of these through content and our offline events. Through content, we hope to help our readers feel less alone in their self-care practice (even if it means staying in and doing nothing), and through our offline events like our monthly book clubs, we hope to help our readers break out of their existing bubbles a bit and gather a community of new friends and connections around them.
You’ve made an editorial decision not to include politics in the GNI weekly newsletter. Can you tell us a little more about that?
Our readers are intelligent, well-read, and politically active and engaged within their communities. They receive their political news elsewhere on a daily basis. From the beginning, we’ve viewed GNI (especially the newsletter) as a fun break from items like hard news, so that’s why we decide to not include political news. We also live in a divisive time — we enjoy bringing people together (especially offline), regardless of what political affiliation they have, in order to create more dialogue and empathy between our readers. We need more connection today, not division.
Alisha Ramos / Sloane Dakota Tucker
In talking with Blood + Milk readers and community members, we consistently hear from incredibly bright and ambitious women that they, despite attaining numerous personal and professional milestones, still feel like they’re “not quite there yet.” What’s your best advice for someone who is struggling with the feeling of “not being enough”?
First, I think it’s easy to compare yourself and your career journey to that of your peers. But everyone’s on their own journey and path. I know this sounds like such a cliché but it’s true. Your version of success is going to look different from someone else’s version. One person might want to end up in the C-Suite and live a glitzy lifestyle, while another person may just want to have a balanced work life and spend more of their energy on other fulfilling areas of their lives, whether that’s family or a hobby.
Second, I’d aim to find some mentors outside of your workplace who can provide an objective stance on your career goals and where you’re at. We can be our own worst critics sometimes. They can even help you problem-solve and create a plan for getting to that next step, whatever it might be. I consistently lean on my mentors when I have questions both big and small about running the business.
You created a brand based on staying in and taking care of yourself, and now you’re leading a rapidly growing business—not a role we often associate with self-care. How do you stay true to the GNI ethos and take care of your mental health while your day-to-day has only gotten busier?
Haha, I do fail at self-care sometimes! Building an early stage business is really tough, and it can be easy to pressure yourself into working 24/7 because it’s your “baby.” I’ve personally put into place a couple of routines that work best for me. First, I do not look at or respond to work emails or Slacks over the weekend, unless it’s truly urgent. And I like to set that example for our team. Second, we have “WFH Fridays” on our team — I find that having one day when you’re able to take it easy and control your own environment can be really restorative. Third, I’ve gotten good about listening to my body. I know when I’m on the edge of burn-out, and if or when I reach that point, I do an hour of “calendar analysis” and see where my time is going. If there are lower priority meetings or projects that can be moved to the following week, I send out requests to postpone those meetings or projects.
Thank you, Alisha!