Tess Daly 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 having pizza parties with the kids, looking after her gut health and binge-watching Bridgerton.
Speaking to Red, Tess revealed they've been trying to stay positive at home for her two daughters' sake, despite the uncertainty of the past year, which saw her working on Strictly during the pandemic and husband Vernon [Kay] appearing on I'm A Celeb at the end of last year.
'2021 started so well,' she jokes, revealing that her and Kay saw in the New Year with daughters Phoebe, 16, and Amber, 12; donning fancy dress, dancing round the house and toasting to new possibilities. 'It was great for about 5 hours... and then it all went pear-shaped didn't it?'
'When you've got kids, you don't want to pass on the angst and the anxiety,' she said, explaining that they've been trying to do things together as a family to 'keep the demons at bay'.
'We've been cooking together, doing things like pizza and sushi parties... Getting [the kids] out on the bikes, going for a walk with the dogs etc.'
Acknowledging how lucky she was getting to go into the studio that 'feels like home' every day on Strictly last October, Daly admitted it felt 'wonderful' to be part of something that cheered people up during lockdown, despite this series looking slightly different to previous years.
'I think people forgave that, because just the fact that you were on air was a feat in itself.'
The 51-year-old TV star has also recently partnered up with Activia, as they launch their Happy Gut Happy You Challenge; encouraging the nation to look after their gut health and their wellbeing this year, by focusing on small acts of self-care that make you feel your best. An initiative Daly feels strongly about, having championed the importance of wellbeing for years now.
'Gut health is everything, it's the second brain, where many of our hormones are produced,' she explains. 'It's where serotonin – the happy hormone – is produced, and if it's not a healthy gut, it's not going to produce that and you're going to feel even more anxious and more distressed.'
Admitting that she's never been into restrictive diets or fads, she says a diet for her is eating healthily and sustaining that: 'I eat chocolate and I love sweet treats... You can't go on a diet that will eliminate three quarters of the stuff that you're used to eating, because you're going to fall off the wagon.'
Having sacrificed so much this past year, Daly believes everyone should be kinder to themselves, give themselves a break and rather than making unachievable resolutions and going on a crazed health kick this year, instead focus on their wellbeing.
'For me, it's just taking 20 minutes a day - whether that's doing an online yoga class or cooking a delicious, healthy meal for my family; nurturing them from the inside out and boosting that immunity,' she says.
Daly notes that these little acts of self-care – things that we can control at home – are the things that can help keep people happy and sane right now, without the stability of our normal routines and social lives.
'For me, that's the most challenging part of all this,' she admits. 'I'm a people person, I love being around people. I love conversations and socialising and when you take all that away, you realise what a big hole it leaves.'
Now that Strictly and I'm A Celeb have finished, the Daly-Kay household routine consists of getting up, having breakfast, getting the kids settled into their online schooling and then Tess squeezes a quick workout in before her working day begins.
'Before any business calls or Zoom meetings, I'll try and do a workout with my trainer,' she says. 'I try and do that 2 or 3 times a week online and a 20 minute yoga stretch class daily – it's good for flexibility and puts you in a great mindset for the rest of the day; forcing you into the moment.'
'The bombardment of outside events, that we cannot control, is silenced when you do yoga and that's what I love about it. It helps you to feel a little stronger and more resilient afterwards.'
She's eternally grateful that this time around, schools are fully equipped to provide online learning, admitting it can be tricky as a parent when there's no routine in place for the day: 'That's when school holidays in a lockdown are hard... there isn't much you can do apart from walk the dogs.'
The family have also been keeping busy watching box sets and playing games together. Daly recommends the usual classics like Uno and Monopoly, as well as Drawful [played online] and Jackbox TV ('You can play that with all the whole family on XBox!')
Watching funny, light-hearted movies has been her lockdown saviour, Daly reveals, along with reading 'good books,' watching comedy on TV ('just laughing out loud feels so good'), ringing family members who are currently alone and nurturing ourselves through 'little acts of self-care'.
Along with the rest of the nation, she's also been devouring Bridgerton with her eldest daughter, and she's been watching BBC's The Serpent with Vernon and Back To Life on Netflix.
She's also recently discovered The Durrells on Netflix [starring It's A Sin's Keeley Hawes]. 'I've come to the party late,' she admits. 'It's brilliant because they're on the Greek Islands, and it's just beautiful – great eye-candy and great escapism.'
Especially when she, along with everybody else, is desperate to book – or even just be able to 'mentally plan' – a holiday, and visiting the islands is currently at the top of the whole family's travel wish-list, once restrictions are lifted, whenever that may be.
Tess Daly has partnered with Activia to support its 14-day #ActiviaChallenge, where alongside focusing on their gut health, participants are being encouraged to do other small things that help make them feel good. To take part visit here.
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