The great thing about our weekly podcast White Wine Question Time is that, over time, it’s become a veritable database of good celebrity advice. From parenthood to dealing with grief, the array of celebs we’ve featured over the past year have shared some pretty sage insights.
So, with all of us experiencing lockdown and the issues that come with that, we thought we’d have a little rummage in the archives to see if any of their words could help us deal with this rather tense situation we’re living through currently. Here, the top 11 tips from our friends.
Remind yourself why it’s good to be alive
What do famous people know about life and death situations, we hear you say? Coppafeel founder, Kristin Hallenga, knows more than most. Having been diagnosed with incurable breast cancer, aged just 23, Kristin has an amazing attitude we could all learn from in these scary times.
Kris didn’t let cancer hold her back, instead she created her charity Coppafeel to help others detect cancer early. She asks all her staff to take off a day every year to go and do something that reminds them why being alive is so great.
“I love what they do,” she told host Kate Thornton. “Sometimes it's literally just like ‘I went for lunch with my mum because why I like being alive is that I have this great relationship with my mum’. Or they went to a museum that they'd been meaning to go to... “
Yes, in these bleak times, it’s hard to think about anything positive and it’s easy to go down a COVID-19 news hole. Instead, try and focus on the good things you do have in your life such as your health or your family. Listen to Kris below:
Try a digital detox
We’re all crammed into our houses and desperate to connect, so of course, we’re going for all the digital devices whether it’s to House Party with our besties or to binge on Netflix. However, stepping away from your phones might actually help with anxiety and improve time spent trapped in a house with family or house-mates.
One person who knows the benefits of a digital detox more than others is Ashley James, who was trapped in the Big Brother house for 29 days. Ashley said that while in there she rediscovered what it was like to chat to people in real life.
“The most wonderful thing when I was in Celebrity Big Brother… was the art of conversation,” she said
“We didn't have phones, so we'd be like 'Guys, do you remember that film? What film? It was with these people? I can't remember the name'. It was nice, you know 'Guys, come into this conversation, I'm trying to remember this' and it was amazing!” Listen to Ashley below:
Lower your expectations
If it wasn’t hard enough working from home and worrying about our health, those of us with children also have to add ‘home schooling’ to our list of things to do. On this one, we’re taking some great advice from funny duo Scummy Mummies, aka Ellie Gibson and Helen Thorn, who told us that when it comes to parenting it’s better to have no expectations.
Ellie revealed to host Kate Thornton that while pregnant her mum told her: “You're just going to have to go through it and it's going to be what it'll be. And you might have a good time or a terrible time. You might have a sleeper or a not sleeper or you might be depressed, or you might be over the moon.’”
“Funny enough,” said Ellie. “I was all of those things, but you know, I had sort of... not low expectations, but sort of no expectations.” Listen to Ellie below:
Live in the present
In these uncertain times, it’s scary not knowing what’s coming next, but worrying about the future can make you ill. Instead, it’s time to practice on being present in the here and now.
Izzy Judd, who wrote Mindfulness For Mums earlier this year, believes mums in particular are really bad at just living in the moment.
“As mums I think we hold so much pressure of everything we should be doing,” she said. “I think we have so much noise. It's not just the exterior noise of the children whingeing… It’s also the noise in your head of ‘I need to return that email’”
Whether you choose breathing exercises, yoga or meditation, don’t give up if at first it doesn’t happen, as Izzy says, this living in the present is something you have to work at.
“I think with everything it's practice,” she said. “You can't suddenly one day think that that's just going to go away. It's practicing it every day.” Listen to Izzy below:
Walking will keep you sane
Unless you’re self-isolating, everyone is allowed out once a day for some exercise, something we should all prioritise in lockdown, even if it just involves going for a walk. Not only is it your one chance to escape the confines of your house, but walking has been proven to be great for your mental and physical health.
One person who knows only too well the benefit of a good walk is TV presenter Gaby Roslin.
READ MORE: Why walking is the best exercise ever
“It's changed my life, you know,” Gaby said about walking. “I love it. I like city walking, so it's the fresh air. You're not looking in a mirror – and I don't mean literally looking in a mirror – I mean it's that self, you know, looking at yourself.”
She continued: “It stimulates your mind! I get extraordinary ideas. I had an idea for a TV show at the top of Primrose Hill and had the pitch formulated by the time I reached the bottom.” Listen to Gaby below:
Discover something that sparks joy
The usual things that make you smile have probably been taken away from you. No more live gigs or cinema trips. No more nights out with your mates or delicious meals in buzzy restaurants. Now it’s time to find that one thing you can do at home – it could be cleaning, watching old musicals or knitting, but whatever it is, do it often. For chef Melissa Hemsley, unsurprisingly, her joy comes from cooking.
“I'll put on Classic FM and I'll put on soup,” she said, when talking about how she boosts her mood. “It doesn't matter what I'm putting in, it's just actually the act of having a couple of ingredients and then having a finished thing and making something.”
She continued: “That's why cooking is really good. It's therapeutic. If your job's not going well or when you feel like ‘I can't do anything right’… If you can – and everyone can put a soup together – you do get that little buzz of like, ‘I can do something actually!’” Listen to Melissa below:
Never stop learning
While some of us may be busier than ever (thanks home schooling!), the rest of us have probably got a fair bit of extra free time. Instead of using that merely to sofa surf, now is a great time to learn something new. We’re taking some inspiration from Loose Women star Andrea McLean who believes her route to happiness comes from the fact she’s always learning.
READ MORE: Lessons in self-love by Andrea McLean
“I am living, learning and thriving,” she said. “I do not want to get to any point in my life where I think, well, that's me done. I am halfway through, not halfway done. I am now just in my second chapter.”
Learn a new language, pick up a self-help book, teach yourself to how to make meringue – take this negative time and turn it into something far more positive. And hey, who knows where that meringue will take you? Listen to Andrea below:
Don’t hide your emotions
It can be really easy to find the situation we’re in totally overwhelming, and sometimes it’s easier to cover up or ignore these feelings of dread. However, talking really does work…
One person who’s a staunch believer in letting it all out is former Love Island star, Malin Andersson, who sadly lost both her mother and baby daughter within two years. She said her saving grace was confronting her grief head on.
“I kind of felt sorry for myself for a few weeks as you do,” she explained to host Kate Thornton. “I was like you need to get up, wake up and let's do something. Don't try and hide your emotions. Don't try and run away and numb your pain with other things and distract your attention. Ride out the pain ‘cause then you'll heal yourself. When you learn to actually feel your emotion, you'll start to heal.”
If you’re struggling with the current situation and don’t have anyone to talk to, the NHS has compiled a list of really useful helplines who have experts there ready to listen to all of your worries, however small you think they are. Listen to Malin below:
Ask for help
You’re in charge of your career and your household, so of course you can cope with a global pandemic… Can’t you?
Well the truth is most of us are probably struggling a little, but there’s definitely no shame in asking for help during these unprecedented times, whether it’s asking someone to pick up medicine for you while you’re self-isolating or asking someone for a regular chat on the phone.
This is something TV presenter Jenny Powell learnt while going through a painful divorce.
“Don’t [ever] be afraid to ask for help,” she said. “Don't ever be afraid to say, ‘Look, should I be unsure about this?’ or ‘I could really do with you helping me with this.’ And I think you have to take that onboard sometimes to just say, ‘You know what: I've got her, him, him, her… And I'm going to draw on that today because I need it.”
Parents, you will probably cry in a cupboard
Author Giovanna Fletcher has a great attitude towards motherhood and one we’re firmly adopting while we’re navigating this crisis.
“A lot of mums are going, ‘I don't know what I'm doing’ – and that’s OK,” she said.
Her advice is simply to give in at times and realise what you’re doing is enough. She said: “I don't believe a mum if she says she's never cried in a cupboard. But your kids are alive. They're happy and they get on with stuff. Shouldn't you be proud of that? Like, isn't that enough?”
All you need is love
A vaccine would be nice. A definite end date to this lockdown would be great. Reassurance that the economy will recover quickly would be even nicer. Chances are we’re not getting any of these things, so let’s concentrate on something we all have – love. Without getting too soppy, the one thing this crisis has done is bring out the kindness and the goodness in everyone.
Singer Shirlie Kemp has been through her own traumas in life. Her husband Martin Kemp suffered two brain tumours and she lost her close friend George Michael in 2016. The one thing that’s kept her going though? Love.
“The only thing that's really nice is love,” she told host Kate. “If you ever lost people in your life, you still hold that love for them. Their love that I've had for people that I've lost is so deep in me that [it] makes me who I am. So, I really know that love is the only thing that's real and that is my absolutely foundation.” Listen to Shirlie below:
If you’ve got some time to kill, there’s a whole back catalogue of fabulous White Wine Question Time episodes to listen to – plus new special lockdown episodes being released each week. Listen on iTunes and Spotify.