An on-location foreign property programme wasn’t exactly a great fit for the pandemic – but A Place In The Sun’s Laura Hamilton has still managed to find plenty to occupy herself with in recent months.
The Kent-born TV presenter – who lives in Surrey with her husband Alex Goward and their two children, Rocco, seven, and Talia, six – is a big fan of fitness, and no stranger to juggling a busy work schedule and family life.
We asked Hamilton, 39, to talk us through her approach to wellbeing, getting through the pandemic, and her recent break from social media…
What are the most important things for your wellbeing?
“Fitness, nutrition, and taking time out for you. Even as a busy working mum I have to take time to relax and not feel guilty about it.”
How do you balance that against your career and family commitments?
“I try to combine things up. For example, it’s really important to me to follow a healthy diet, so I want to teach that to my kids.
If I cook with them, I’m spending time with them, but also cooking healthy food and teaching them something important.
“Of course, there are times when I don’t, and you have that guilt of needing to send emails or do other things, but I think it’s important in this day and age for children to realise that often both parents do work. It is hard sometimes.”
Has there been anything in particular recently that’s helped your wellbeing?
“Over the last two weeks, I took the decision to take a break from social media. I decided I wasn’t going to post for a while, or look at Instagram, and I’m just now going to do my first post back.
“It felt like it made a big difference – I’ve been reading more, I’ve started listening to audiobooks, and I’ve been using my time in different ways.
I’m not saying I wasted time on social media, but it was great to step away and focus my attention elsewhere.”
What prompted you to take that break?
“I have an underlying health condition, and I had a little reaction to the vaccine. I documented it, and then something was printed that was factually wrong, which sparked a whole load of other articles.
The story was taken from my social media, and the information was incorrect, which is really damaging.
“I wasn’t pro or anti anything, I merely said what happened to me, so I decided to take a break. I had a lot of people contacting me asking if I was ok, but I knew that people who knew me would know the truth.
“Even friends and family don’t always pick up the phone to see how you are, they just look at social media. I think you should call and ask, rather than assuming that social media is the reality, because it often isn’t.”
How have you adapted to everything shifting online during the pandemic?
“There’s definitely some frustration. Even when booking a doctor’s appointment, you can’t just speak to a doctor, you have to go online and send videos and things.
I’m concerned about older people – my nan, for example, wouldn’t have a clue how to send a video of something that was wrong.
“I’m just grateful for my children that after school-clubs have opened up again, because even they were saying: ‘I don’t want to do online ballet, or online theatre, or online Spanish’.
They want interaction as well. I’m quite fortunate in that my job can’t be done online, and I think connecting with people in person is really important. I don’t like everything being online.”
How much were you able to keep working during lockdown?
“A Place In The Sun obviously stopped when the travel ban was in place, but as things started to open up, there were moments we could travel to various places.
But A Place In The Sun isn’t my only job, and I work on other things as well when I’m at home.
“I’m definitely somebody who doesn’t sit still. I’m obsessed with cleaning, so I’ll always be able to find somewhere to clean in the house! And I love fitness and did online workouts with people throughout lockdown.”
Was it strange being back in front of the cameras at first, when filming picked up again?
“I don’t think so, because I’ve always been in front of the cameras, from a social media point of view, your life is under a lens anyway.
I’ve been in telly for 21 years, so it wasn’t a worry. When it’s your job, it’s a bit like riding a bike.”
You spend a lot of time in the gym – what’s your secret to staying motivated?
“You’ve got to find what you love – and if you do, you won’t struggle to be motivated. Walking, cycling, running – I hate running, and I’m really not good at it – when you get into something, you will start to see results.”