Sara Cox has shared the items and daily rituals that have been making her lockdown a little easier during England's third national lockdown — and they include her can't-miss podcast recommendation, making time to exercise and her Radio 2 family.
Speaking to Red, Sara reveals that being able to keep working all the way through the pandemic has been her 'saviour,' and that cycling into work and having an excuse to leave the house everyday is one of the main things that's helped keep her mentally fit during the pandemic.
Work is, of course, her daily BBC Radio 2 show. Tune in at 5.05pm and you'll hear the presenter's distinct Northern tones entertaining the nation every weekday — her contagious energy and mischievous sense of humour winning a legion of fans since taking over the coveted drive-time slot back in 2019.
It's a position 46-year-old Sara has worked hard to be in. After her wild Radio 1 days gave way to the 'wilderness years', as she calls them, she finally landed her dream job three years ago.
'I feel like I’ve jumped into my own little dream,' she tells Red disbelievingly. 'All Request Friday used to be my favourite part of the week, when Simon [Mayo] did it... and now I host it.'
Ticking her dream job off her bucket list is likely one of the things that's contributed to her describing her 40s as her 'best decade so far'. She also puts that down to being far fitter now than she was in her 20s, and as well as feeling calmer and more confident. Oh, and she's just stopped caring what other people think.
'It feels like I know myself better,' she explains. 'Your 20s are for partying, your 30s – if you choose to have kids or are lucky enough to have them – are when you give yourself over to childcare, and then in your 40s it just becomes about you a bit more... Hopefully the 50s will be absolutely excellent.'
Her advice for anyone about to enter their fifth decade? Simple: 'When I’ve got friends who are about to turn 40, I’m like: "Babe, you’re gonna love it, it’s the best!"'
It's this contagious positivity that's won her a legion of fans on BBC Radio 2, successfully re-branding the drive-time format, after taking over from Simon Mayo and Jo Whiley last year.
Declaring herself 'a glass half-full person', Sara credits her sunny mental attitude for helping her get through these tricky times, much to her husband Ben Cyzer's despair. '[He] finds it quite annoying,' she laughs.
A feeling many couples will surely resonate with after spending months in isolation together. Thankfully, that hasn't been the case in the Cox-Cyzer household...
'We're really lucky,' she admits, acknowledging that her kids are slightly older – at ten, twelve and sixteen – so a bit more self-sufficient, and her family is also lucky enough to have a garden.
Along with lots of us this past year, Sara took to cycling into the Radio 2 offices for work – as well as swimming, horse-riding and making use of her home gym equipment during lockdown – something that's helped her stay mentally fit during the pandemic. 'I'm a creature of habit so I like to get up early, put my lenses in, exercise and crack on with the rest of my day,' she says.
Having previously said her 'pipe dream' was to eventually leave London for more rural roots (Sara grew up on her dad's farm in Bolton), she's recently realised that she actually loves where she is now.
'We’re lucky we live somewhere with a nice garden, on a quiet street. I’ve got so many friends here,' she says, joking that if they ever moved from their leafy home in the north-west of the capital, they'd have to take 'the whole street' with them.
With the majority of people spending the past year either finally getting to know their neighbours or binge-watching boxset after boxset, did she live up to both the stereotypes?
'We started watching [Normal People] but then had a break for a couple of weeks and when we went back to it we just weren’t that bothered with it,' she admits, revealing that the most fun she and husband Ben had was doing impressions of the characters.
'Maybe I should have read the book,' she ponders. 'I can't tell you how much I've been reading lately.'
One of her favourite reads from the end of last year is The Binding by Bridget Collins. 'It’s a fantastic story... So unique,' she says.
Her other lockdown essentials? 'Like everybody else, I listened to all of Louis Theroux's Grounded podcasts [during the first lockdown], I’ve been watching a lot of him on BBC iPlayer, too...It's been my Louis lockdown!'
Fellow Radio 2 DJ Claudia Winkleman's podcast with Professor Tanya Byron, How Did We Get Here? was Sara's go-to for a good laugh and a cry: 'She just unpicks people’s feelings... It’s really beautifully done.'
And, despite continuing to go into work throughout the pandemic, it seems the Radio 2 DJs haven't wanted to miss out on one classic component of lockdown life: taking part in group Zoom calls together.
'It's been great,' says Cox. 'We get to see Zoe [Ball]’s lovely kitchen, Claudia [Winkleman] with all her books behind her and legendary Bob Harris in his studio at home with all his records behind him…'
A family affair the radio star is no doubt thrilled to be a part of. Now she's landed the job of her dreams, what's next on the agenda? World domination or putting her feet up?
'It feels weird looking ahead as it’s such a weird time at the moment,' Sara says. 'But I’ve got some TV stuff coming up, I’m writing another book at the moment (which I absolutely love) and just continuing to do the radio.'
Listen to The Sara Cox Show at 5.05pm, weekdays on BBC Radio 2
Sara Cox is an ACUVUE® Brand Ambassador and is wearing ACUVUE® Contact Lenses. To find out more about how ACUVUE® can help you focus on what matters, visit Acuvue.co.uk. Contact lenses can give you clear all-round vision, the freedom to be active and a natural look without glasses.
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