XOCHI BALFOUR TALKS BURNOUT

And How To Overcome It
PHOTO: KYLE GALVIN

After graduating from Oxford, I interned and freelanced as a writer for a number of online and print publications. I ended up working on the trend forecasting team at Stylus.com but I always knew I wasn't built for the office.

About a year after I met my now husband Ben, we decided to quit our jobs and venture into healthy street food; we converted a 1948 Ford pickup truck from which we sold homemade Japanese gyoza dumplings and Asian salads all around the capital and the country. It was a total trip and an amazing adventure in uncountable ways; but it was also gruelling physically and emotionally. All day prep and late night markets, festivals and crazy working hours left us depleted and exhausted. Desperate for energy, I would drink litres of coffee and consume endless sugary treats amid the ubiquitous hot dogs, burgers and wraps that surrounded us, and eventually it caught up with me and I hit burnout.


"My body was screaming for rest, nourishment and a different way of operating and it wasn't until I pretty much collapsed that I had the humility and courage to listen to it."

I knew we had to overhaul our diet as a primary move back to vitality and enrolled on a short course in nutrition at CNM where a good friend was studying. I adored every minute and undertook the Nutritional Therapy diploma, which I have just completed. I began to blog about my journey at The Naturalista (now a book as well), sharing easy and cost-effective recipes and branching into natural beauty and mindfulness as well.


"For me, these are the three pillars of wellness and work synergistically together: we can drink all the green juice in the world but if we are using harmful chemicals on our skin or ignoring our emotional and psychological health, true wellness can be hard to fully achieve."

I work with clients to nourish both the inner and outer landscapes, creating lasting changes that allow for a sustainable return to optimal harmony and balance both physically and energetically.

I know from my own experience that London is a very busy and fast-paced city - that's why so many of us love it so much. Crowded rush hours and increasing busy-ness keep us all on high alert, and throughout the world, the amount of time we spend online each day is playing havoc with our sleep patterns and natural rhythms. Life lived digitally, wherever you are, comes with its own bag of repercussions and as our inboxes bulge and our phones outperform themselves daily, we need to be conscious of creating more space in which to physically reconnect to ourselves each other and our environment away from screens and devices.

In my work as a therapist, I fuse holistic nutrition, mindful self-practice and complementary therapies to empower clients to take their wellness back into their own hands.I do not believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to diet or healing and in this respect I work very much with the individual and meet them where they are at.

It seems that through the current health and wellness trend, which is fantastic and a gateway to so much good work, there is a tendency to think "if I just take this supplement and this superfood, I will feel good again", ignoring all the rest - and in my experience and that of my clients, it takes a willingness to really look at one's whole life and see which changes need to happen where. If we are living in a state of perpetual stress and nervous activation, we need to take responsibility for our habits if we are to really make lasting changes that return us to a state of vitality and happiness.

It can often feel new and daunting to look inside and acknowledge our less proactive habits and patterns, but in unpicking them and replacing them with nourishing new ones, we sow the seeds for a truly sustainable way of living that keeps us stronger, more aware and more present as the whirlwind of modern life races around us. We also generate true self-love and this is such a powerful part of healing and wellness.

With regard to burnout, slowing down and listening to the body is absolutely key. Making that space to check in with the self and see where we are at is so important. Our bodies want to be well and they work hard every second of the day to keep things in a finely tuned balance; when they start shouting at us that something is wrong, that they need rest, that they are under too much strain, we can only ignore it for so long. Many of my clients struggle with burnout and one of the first things we work on together is removing stimulants such as sugar and caffeine, supporting long days with intelligent foods and meal plans, and beginning to cultivate positive daily practices to calm the nervous system and create some space from the whirrings of the mind.

I have just started practising with the brilliant team of practitioners at Holistic Health on Broadway Market, which is really exciting and a wonderful place to work out of. I am really enjoying working with so many new clients in the city, and being able to collaborate with an ever growing circle of gifted healers and therapists as my journey evolves.

I also run regular Sacred Space retreats and workshops with my husband Ben, where we explore gentle tools to cultivate more awareness, presence and self-love within the demands of modern everyday life. We work with teachers from near and far and incorporate a wide range of tools and techniques, coming together in a gentle and sacred space to just be where we are at with likeminded friends is so important.

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