Most famous for her time as a dancer on BBC Television’s Strictly Come Dancing, Camilla Sacre-Dallerup is a three times global best-selling author, and owner of Zenme Coaching.  A leading life coach, hypnotherapist, meditation teacher, and NLP master practitioner, Camilla understands the importance of self-care and helps athletes and professionals to achieve results. Here, she talks to Timely about changing careers, growing up in a salon environment, setting boundaries, and preventing overwhelm.

What led to your transition from the world of dance to the world of wellness?

With dancing, I suddenly felt so lost and stuck.  I couldn’t understand why I’d fallen out of love with the thing that I’d worked so hard for my entire life.  I didn’t want it to be over.  I had to go on a journey and find who I was.  Having been an athlete for so many years, I had to work out what lights my fire now. It was scary and exciting all at the same time.

I have been obsessed with the mind ever since I can remember. I studied sportspeople and how they use the power of the mind to win. I learned about mind tools in general, and I used them to win in sport. When I hit burnout at 35, and I lost all my drive, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me.  I started to look into how I could use the tools that I used to win to really feel good about myself. That became a journey of understanding stress and how stress affects the body, about mental health, and what can affect our mental health. 

I’ve worked with quite a few different coaches throughout life.  Sports psychologists had a big impact on my life. When I was age 13, my coach taught me to visualise. He taught me about the mind hack that when you visualise something, you’re essentially tricking the mind because the mind doesn’t actually know whether you’re physically doing it or you’re just imagining it. 

Camilla Sacre-Dallerup; three times global best-selling author, life coach, hypnotherapist, meditation teacher, NLP master practitioner and mindful living expert.

Later in life, I worked with a wonderful coach who did hypnotherapy, which gave me an understanding of how the subconscious mind runs our lives 95% of the time. That made me realise I needed to understand what was happening in my subconscious, what was blocking me and making me feel stuck, lost, and unhappy.  

That led me to taking courses in things such as mindfulness, Reiki, hypnosis, and NLP.  Mind tools became my thing and I wanted to share them with people. I opened Zenme when I moved to LA seven years ago.

How has growing up in a salon environment influenced the wellness work you do?

My mum ran a fantastic hair salon for 30 years, and I learned a huge amount from watching her.  One of the tools that I share a lot is reframing. And this is something that I watched my mum do throughout her career.  She was a very motivating speaker, and she really helped her clients reframe. If they came in and had quite negative self-talk, she would reframe things and get them saying more positive things about themselves.   And I listened to that. 

I also saw that, in the salon, my mum had created a safe space where people could share anything they wanted to and know that it would never leave that room. I realised what a difference you can make in this world, whatever your profession is, if you’re willing to create a safe space for people to share, and to help them see things even just slightly differently.  

Equally, I learned that it’s vital to set boundaries. My mum set boundaries of working four days a week. She worked hard on those four days but that was it, and she wasn’t going to budge on it. And guess what happened? The people who were meant to come to her, came to her. The people who couldn’t accept that, they fell away. They weren’t meant to be her clients. It’s fine. You have to be willing to lose and to let go, and kind of trust that the people who are going to be your clients and who will follow you and be your community, they will come to you. They will respect your boundaries.

Do you have any tips on setting boundaries? 

Obvious as it sounds, you need to actually set them; a lot of people don’t. Be clear in your head about what your limits are, about what is OK for you, and about what isn’t OK.  And remember that you can still be a good person and say no. 

When we think that we have to say yes to that client’s request for a 7am appointment, that’s coming from a lack mindset. It’s not coming from an abundance mindset. There’s a fine line of, of course.  But you need to ask yourself what the cost is of saying yes.  The benefit is that you will earn money, but what is it costing you?  It might be time with your family, it might be much-needed rest.  Look at what you will earn, and then ask yourself if saying yes is costing you more emotionally and mentally.  It might not be.  But, if it is, then you need to question if it’s worth it. 

I totally understand, from starting my own business, that it’s hard work at the beginning.   We may do things and work extra hours and extra days because we want to build it up. But there comes a time when you have to draw a bit of a line and set some boundaries.  Personally, I needed my Sundays back at one point. I was worried that I’d lose clients, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be giving clients the best version of myself if I didn’t have that time for me.  And it worked out fine.  I believe that those clients that are meant for me will respect my boundaries and will be there for me. Without boundaries, you’re at risk of becoming seriously overwhelmed.  

What advice would you give to hair and beauty industry professionals who are feeling overwhelmed? 

You have to create a schedule. A large part of what I do in sessions is getting people back to their routine. When it’s scheduled in, it happens. If it’s not scheduled in, it doesn’t happen. That’s just how busy we all are. Everything that you need to do in a week has to be in your diary. If you know you need to spend four hours a week on accounts, or social media, or anything at all, schedule it in.  

I also have a day a week called a ‘flexi day’, as do a lot of my clients.  Anything that overflows can be caught on the flexi day. It’s also the day you do all your phone calls and get up to date with anything else.  It’s a day where you aren’t with clients, but you are focusing on your business. It doesn’t need to be every week; it could be once a fortnight or once a month.  But it’s very helpful. You need time away from clients in order to drive your business forward.