‘Imposter syndrome is super healthy’: Claudia Winkleman on life and career in her 50s

Television and radio presenter Claudia Winkleman talks to Psychologies about taking wellness seriously in her 50s, the power of a good nap, and why she’ll never wear a sports bra.


Claudia Winkleman biting her BAFTA award

Now in it’s 21st series, Strictly Come Dancing, and, with it, the show’s co-presenter Claudia Winkleman, has become as much a part of Christmas as carols and crackers. With her famous eye-sweeping fringe, orange fake tan (her words) and quick humour, the 51-year-old says this is the decade where she’s really found her career ‘groove’.

‘I definitely feel more grateful in my 50s – both me and my family. I don’t know whether we even used that word when I was young,’ says Winkleman, who has also been confirmed to present season two of hit BBC show The Traitors.

‘I don’t want my career to end tomorrow – more than anything, I love the adrenaline. But if it does, I think I’ve had a ridiculously long run. I can’t bear the arrogance of assuming that it’s just going to continue – I love a bit of imposter syndrome. I think it’s super healthy.’

It’s an attitude the presenter hopes to pass onto her children, too. ‘I’ve met people who don’t have it – they’re awful. I think it’s okay to think, “How have I got here?”, “When are they going to find out?”, and “I’m really not that good!”. And I want to instil that in my kids, too. Entitlement is not fine.’

Alongside her career, for Winkleman, wellness has taken more of a priority in her 50s than ever before. ‘I think it has to, because when I think back – it was 100 years ago – to my 20s, I was constantly zipping around; you were always just racing. You were like, “I have to do this, then I’m going to do that”. You had a gazillion friends.

‘Now, I can do all of that in the day if, at 8pm, I’m powering down – like an old laptop! That’s how I’d like you to think of me,’ she says, with a laugh. ‘I think as you get older, you don’t say yes to stuff that you don’t want to do. And I basically don’t want to do anything! I am a pure homebody,’ she adds.

Winkleman, who has three children – Jake, 20, Matilda, 17, and Arthur, 12 – with husband Kris Thykier, has built a toolbox of techniques for self-care, among them CBD, which she turned to in lockdown when she was stressed and ‘very bad’ at home-schooling.

‘Without CBD oil, I was incapable of helping my youngest learn at home. I would march – in my pyjamas and mismatched socks – from one room to another shouting, “Darwin!”, “Focus!”, “Lymph nodes!”. Then I found CBD oil and felt much calmer. I thought, “I’ll find out about Darwin at some point, it doesn’t matter”. It transformed the way I felt about the world – and the way I slept.’

If there’s one form of self-care that Winkleman has always adhered to, it’s the power of sleep – and she naps at least once or twice a day. ‘On the days I can’t nap, my husband will tell you there’s a marked difference,’ she says. ‘I don’t know whether you’ve met a human sloth before…

‘Sleep is very, very important to me, and CBD oil shifted that for the better, because I’m also 51, so I must be up the kazoo regarding hormones.’

Fans will know Winkleman’s high-energy, dynamic demeanour – and in person she’s no different, as we chat in a London hotel room – but she says she seesaws between a state of active and calm. ‘My dad says I’m either at zero or I’m at ten – I’m not very good at seven. I’m either on or I’m off.’

The mum-of-three is a fan of lengthy baths with candles, and hour-long chats with girlfriends in the evenings – but a bedtime routine is essential.

‘I have very old kids, but I still have a 12-year-old, so I like him in bed at 8pm, and when he gets into bed – be prepared – I sort of get into bed, too!’ she says. ‘I have a soak with a bath melt (from the new range), which has coconut in it and leaves your skin smooth and lovely. I love a good two-hour wind-down.’

Claudia Winkleman sitting on a yellow bed in a yellow jumper
Images: Ian West/PA, Jeff Moore/PA, Loredana Sangiuliano/Shutterstock

With her mental wellness in hand, what about caring for her body? You might assume TV stars all have personal trainers, but Winkleman bucks the trend and says she has never warmed to exercise.

‘I just don’t think it’s for me,’ she says. ‘Lots of my friends do it, and once they’ve found their activity, they love it. But I’ve just never had that experience.

‘I’m allergic to sweating and movement – and Lycra, I think! But I am on the Tube all the time, so I do march around. And I like going for a walk with my family. If my family’s there, I’ll do anything; if I can walk with a little hand in my hand then I’m off. But the idea that I’m going to put on a sports bra and go to a room to sweat? It’s a no!’

The Cannaray x Claudia Winkleman CBD-boosted beauty and wellbeing range is available to buy now, from £7. Visit cannaraycbd.com

Words: Lauren Taylor, images: Ian West/PA, Jeff Moore/PA, Loredana Sangiuliano/Shutterstock

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