Do you have a spring in your step as your return to Canary Wharf, or are you heading to your desk with a rather more reluctant trudge?

Right about now, the back to work blues could be casting a cloud over the lives of some bankers.

But chillier temperatures and the end of the school holidays might not solely to blame.

Ex-Barclays and Paribas bonds trader Alisa Burke says the shifting nature of the finance industry – and the switch from high times to austerity – has left its mark on employees.

She has experienced the seriousness of the strain at first hand, turning to coffee and wine to cope.

“It’s a different nature in the City and Canary Wharf to how it was five or 10 years ago,” said Alisa, who set up as a London-based mind and body coach in 2010.

“In Canary Wharf, there can be very low mood and a lack of ambition and purpose. Work isn’t how it used to be and employees don’t get the buzz they used to.

“Some bankers now feel they are stuck in their jobs – they have got the school fees and the mortgage and the pressure they have to provide and live up to their lifestyle.

“People just crumble under the stress.”

Heaped on top of job pressures, Alisa said some employees would be returning to the estate with a lack of energy and enthusiasm – and carrying a few extra pounds – courtesy of a summer spent munching barbecue and indulging on rose.

Her clients’ most popular requests are how to switch off from work, to stop overthinking and how to escape a low mood.

Alisa says she works to create cognitive behavioural change. She studies her client’s posture, breathing, mindfulness and habits.

The culture of bending over computers, she said, posed problems for muscles and results in a forward-learning posture, which mimics the body’s natural response to stress.

For frazzled workers returning to the estate the first thing will be making sure they are taking a “reasonable level of personal care”.

“It’s fairly basic stuff – but sometimes people need to hear it again,” she said.

“Then I look at the two sources of job motivation – the first is what they relate to what they do, whether it be giving self-esteem, something emotional or a connectivity, or sometimes it gives a sense of purpose.

“Then it’s if people are really connecting with why they are doing it and if they can get their drive back.

“It might involve looking at what skills they use and how we can replicate that – their strength might be that they are good with people – so it’s how can we use that as a lever to be more productive.”

Alisa has held wellness sessions at banks including Barclays in addition to her clinics in Marylebone.

Initial consultations are free.


1. Make time for self care.

2. Bring attention back to what is important to you.

3. Be aware of your strengths – and use them to engage with what you do.

4. Snap out of a bad mood.

5. Be open to seeing new possibilities.