Fearne Cotton reveals why she ‘needed to write’ her new book about stress

Virgin Radio

11 Jan 2024, 13:48

Fearne Cotton talks to Chris Evans at Virgin Radio.

Fearne Cotton visited Virgin Radio to talk about her new book, Little Things: A Positive Toolkit For When Life Feels Stressful.

The book, which is out now, looks at how small changes and everyday habits can help unwind modern-day stress. Fearne shares habits, tools and advice to help you cope better, understand your own worries, and learn how to pause and respond rather than react when life feels too much. 

Joining the Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch, Fearne said: “Everyone's stressed, everyone's had extremely stressful situations happen in their lives. And all of us are dealing with just micro-stress throughout the day. So all of it's got to be manageable and small.

“I'm not coming from a point of view where I've nailed this, I am often extremely stressed. And sometimes I really fly off the handle, and I'm a hothead. And I don't deal with things well, so I needed to write this book.”

Fearne also hosts The Happy Place Podcast, and used lessons that she has learned from expert conversations when creating her new book. She told Chris: “I nearly bailed halfway through the writing of it, because I started feeling really stressed about writing a stress book, and I was like, ‘This can't be right!’. But that actually allowed me to be much more curious about what my triggers were. You have to go back to childhood, to some extent, how you were modelled coping with stress, how you react to it versus respond to it. And that's quite difficult at times and can be quite humbling. Because you've got to also look at how much autonomy you have over it.”

She continued: “Yes, there are things that are plain stressful, and there's no getting around that. But I think all of us have a little bit more agency over how much stress we're letting in and how we're coping with it. And none of us want to necessarily look at that.” 

Giving an example of her own stress and anxiety, she said: “Coming here today, I didn't have any anxiety, and I feel really calm on air. But there was a period, say, three years ago, where I was in the thick of panic attacks and the thick of anxiety and I probably came on this show in that state. And I managed to look relatively calm to everybody but inside, I was freaking out. And I was freaking out before. I probably hadn't slept. And then I would stress and replay everything that I'd said for about four hours afterwards.”

On day-to-day stresses, the broadcaster and writer said: “It could be tiny things like, I'm late on the school run. Micro-stresses, where I can feel that stress building and, at some point, I'll snap, and it could be at my poor husband, or it might just be, I'm not dealing with things well, and I abandon projects I'm working on. It will come out in other ways. 

“I think awareness stops it going into chronic stress. I think when we're not aware, that's where we normalise it. And we're just like, ‘Well, this is how I feel all the time, every day’. And then chronic stress, as my mum talks about in the book, can turn physical very, very quickly.” 

Regarding perspective, Fearne spoke about zooming out “until planet earth is just a mass of other little bright dots.”

She added: “Keep going and keep going. I think we forget that we're sat on a floating ball in infinite space. And that one always helps me out. I am just a speck of nothingness on another speck of nothingness, in infinite space.”

Clarifying that “it doesn’t mean you're nothing,” the Little Things author said: “If we can get that perspective, I think, all the micro-stresses of, ‘I'm late, I messed up, I shouldn't have said that thing I said’, which we all do - I think we assume that we're the only ones, we all make these little mistakes throughout the day and we all get stressed about these tiny things - they slowly dissipate, if we can just zoom out.”

Little Things: A Positive Toolkit For When Life Feels Stressful is out now.

For more great interviews listen to The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with cinch weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or catch up on-demand here.