TV presenter Jeff Brazier: Why are we forcing ourselves to do the absolute maximum every day?

The dad-of-two and telly host has been ushering in changes and letting go of some of the pressure. By Abi Jackson.

Brazier is letting go of the ‘must do this’ mindset
Jeff Brazier Brazier is letting go of the ‘must do this’ mindset (Ian West/PA)

Ever feel like pressure to be productive is ruling your life? Then you might want to take a leaf out of Jeff Brazier’s book.

As the TV presenter says: “Until recently, I’ve always been a big list keeper. I used to do something called ‘timeboxing’ [a popular time-management method where you plot out allocated timeframes for tasks], which I learnt from a book called Indistractable by Nir Eyal. I’d make sure I meticulously plan each day and set out goals and things I need to do in a particular order.

“But I feel like I’ve sort of let go of ‘must get everything done’,” adds Brazier, 44, known for appearances on shows like This Morning and Loose Women.

“Don’t get me wrong, there’s still things that need doing. I think I’m just finding a new approach to things; it’s been replaced with more of a flow.

“Do you get as much done? I’m not entirely sure – but does it matter that we don’t get the maximum done? Why are we forcing ourselves to do the absolute maximum in any one day?”

Brazier is in a bit of a “transition” phase right now. There’s been a lot of reflecting, and he’s switching things up.

“It doesn’t mean I don’t want to be driven, but I don’t want to be driven from the same place,” he says. For example: “I don’t want to go to the gym because I expect myself to look a certain way at 45 years old – I want to go to the gym because I enjoy certain aspects of it.”

It’s seeing what life looks like “when you take the ‘I must do this’ or ‘I have to do that’ out of the equation”, he adds. “It feels new for me. It feels softer, kinder, slightly more comfortable and more aligned.

“It’s something I’ve been unravelling recently, and it’s just about knowing your self-worth, knowing that you’re enough, that you don’t have to continue to feel like you have to prove yourself.

“I think there’s a lot of people who place high expectations on themselves on a daily basis. I know I’m definitely one of them. In some respects, maybe it’s helped. Maybe it helped me bring up the kids, maybe it helped me to stay healthy, maybe it helped me to stay married.

“But – having a motivation is great – but if your motivation and drive all comes from trying to satisfy the expectations of others, or having an inflated expectation of yourself based on needing to survive, then I would say that your motivation can come from better, more resourceful places.”

Brazier’s presenting career started after a stint on Shipwrecked in 2001, back in the days when reality TV as a distinct genre was still relatively new. A year later he started dating, and subsequently had two sons (Bobby, now 20, and Freddie, now 19) with late Big Brother star Jade Goody. They split up in 2004, and following Goody’s tragic death from cervical cancer at age 27 in 2009, he become a single dad to their boys.

During his own childhood, Brazier – who married wife Kate, a PR firm director, in 2018 – spent time in foster care, as well as a period living in a refuge for women and families escaping domestic abuse.

“I’m constantly learning and evolving,” he says today. “But I can proudly state that I had psychotherapy for seven or eight years, and that was to do with inner child work.

“When you’ve experience trauma when you’re younger, there’s a lot to unravel. Otherwise, you have to be careful, because in life sometimes it’s the part of you that holds the trauma that might be making decisions in relationships or in work.

“I think most of my career I’ve spent just treading carefully and being safe, not necessarily true to who I am, or how I would have gone about certain things if I didn’t maybe have that experience of knowing that certain things should be feared.”

Brazier is a brand ambassador for Revive Active supplements
Brazier is a brand ambassador for Revive Active supplements (James McCauley/James McCauley)

TV work is still central in his career. He is also a trained grief counsellor and life coach and in 2017 published a book, The Grief Survival Guide. Then there’s his brand ambassador role with ‘super supplement’ brand Revive Active.

Making this part of his self-care routine easy is one time-management hack he’s sticking with: “I think sometimes there’s too much jargon [with nutritional supplements], and it doesn’t help us really feel assured in what we’re taking.

“Also, there’s millions – there isn’t enough time or cupboard space to store all of them. So I really appreciate Revive Active’s approach, they make it really simple.”

During the pandemic, he started running local Grateful Strides ‘walk and talk’ groups. It started as a way of helping people get outside and reconnect after lockdown, and Brazier still cherishes the movement today.

“It’s a really simple premise, but I can’t speak highly enough for how powerful it is. I will never stop doing them.

“Community is vital,” he adds. “As someone who has, on the whole, brought up kids on his own, you feel very on your own at times. And that can be of your own doing, it can also be because the situation lends itself to just coping with what’s in front of you. So yeah, community for me is really important.

“If we lack something in our life, we can always replicate it by taking positive actions towards creating it in other ways.

“So maybe in some respects, me starting the walks wasn’t just for others,” says Brazier. “Maybe it was for myself as well.”

Jeff Brazier is a brand ambassador for super supplement experts Revive Active.