Jo Whiley On Cultivating Calm
Wow! Jo Whiley’s list of achievements is incredible, from Radio 2 and Glastonbury (the most iconic festival in the UK) to smashing a 26 hour treadmill challenge. This month, I embark on a mission to discover how she juggles it all whilst raising 4 kids...
Beckie Andrews: We just uncovered some shocking truths about stress levels in the UK - 9 out of 10 women feel stressed every day and 60% said ‘more time’ would make them less stressed. Does this surprise you?
Jo Whiley: That’s not surprising - we all squeeze in so much! We have so many demands, and technology makes this worse! There’s an endless string of emails to send and social media to check. There’s constant chatter in our minds.
That's exactly why it's so important to step away from everything and give yourself a break. I retreat to my garden, my solitude. I consciously decide not to look at my phone and be reminded of all the messages I should be responding to. We all need to be mindful of our own sanity and give ourselves a break in whichever way suits us.
JW: We all have to make the juggling act work for us. I find it difficult to ‘get things done’ when I'm at home, so I answer emails with a clear, calm head when I'm at work or everyone else is asleep. Fitness is hot for me too, so I run or swim straight after the school drop off - before domesticity starts demanding my attention!
BA: And, what tests your balancing skills?
JW: Of course, there are times when things go wrong and I forget to arrange a pick-up for one of the kids and get a phone call from school... They're never good! Homework, school forms, party invites and presents - they're all the little things I'm bad at. The other thing that stresses me out is giving all the kids equal attention - I'm constantly worrying about neglecting one of them.
BA: I was wondering how your work pattern affects your natural energy levels?
JW: I turn to exercise to boost my energy and deal with stress. I’m definitely very very tired a lot of the time because I get back so late and then get up and do the school run. But I'm also extremely lucky to have a job where I can do the school run - that's a precious moment with Coco, my six year old that I cherish. If I didn't do that then some days, I wouldn’t see her at all...
BA: I love listening to Finley Quaye when I’m stressed, reggae chills me out. What about you?
JW: Believe it or not when I'm really stressed I listen to Radio 4! Speech radio is really comforting - especially Woman's Hour, Midweek, Desert Island Discs & the afternoon plays. Otherwise I find great comfort in listening to Jeremy Vine or Ken Bruce's Pop Master! I also have a multitude of playlists that I love and acoustic moodiness music is always a great stress buster! We all need to be mindful of our own sanity and give ourselves a break.
BA: Last year you completed a phenomenal treadmill challenge, amazing! Tell us more...
JW: I had a pedicure the other day and was told that my toenail is falling off.
This'll be my fourth toenail and it's over a year since the treadmill challenge! The blisters were huge post-treadmill, and my legs took ages to recover but at the time I was oblivious - it was such a wonderful thing to be doing that I could only deal with the task in hand and think of the money we were raising. There were so many brilliant bits. The cast of Les Mis singing One Day More to me, Chris Martin donating a LOT of money, Pudsey the dancing dog, Will Young, We Are Scientists, Christopher Biggins - it was a VERY surreal night..
BA: Which 3 things make you feel amazing each day?
JW: Swimming. I just love it. It makes me feel better in every which way. Candles. I'm always burning candles to make the house feel lovely! A latte and croissant. These are my guilty pleasures. Once the kids are dropped off I treat myself to half an hour of solitude with the papers. The calm descends and it's 'my time' Acoustic music is always a great stress buster
BA: What about at home?
JW: Sundays are about walking Brodie and Boosh, my 2 gorgeous dogs! It’s so therapeutic and I get a sense of calm walking along the river. I love seeing their waggy-tailed happiness! Friday nights are my favourite. I have a ritual of buying flowers, yummy food and lighting candles everywhere in preparation for the weekend.
BA: How do you look after your mind as well as your body?
JW: I'm actually not very good at the mindfulness side of wellbeing. I prefer to keep active and up my exercise regime so I fall asleep before my head hits the pillow. If I indulge in still time, it's in the garden. This is my obsession, I'd happily garden all day long if I could. It feels almost meditative. I love the fact there is nothing to listen to apart from the birds and the bees and my own breathing. This is my thinking time.
BA: Finally, which Neom blend do you love most?
JW: I love the welcoming scent of the Tranquillity™ fragrance, the English lavender, basil and jasmine is one of my favourites and the candles are perfect to burn when I need to relax after a long day. I love the Happiness™ range too, the neroli, mimosa and lemon offers a fresh scent that really awakens the senses.