Sipping her morning coffee at her Westchester, New York, home, Meredith Vieira smiles as she recalls recently hosting her daughter Lily’s wedding in the very space where she sits. “I don’t know what I was thinking!” the veteran television personality laughs. “It was nerve-racking. It had poured for days and we had a windstorm the night before. I was positive the tents were going to blow away, but in the end, we lucked out, got beautiful weather and I realized how special the day truly was.”
Being able to see through the clouds of life to the sunshine is one of Vieira’s greatest strengths — it’s this positive quality that makes her career as a broadcast journalist so memorable. For decades, the 69-year-old has been flying high as a broadcast journalist, hosting hit shows like TODAY, Who Wants To Be a Millionaire, and, currently, 25 Words or Less. But for the mom and wife, life’s journey hasn’t always been smooth.
Vieira’s husband, Richard, has battled against multiple sclerosis, two bouts of colon cancer, and presently, a bout with COVID. “Richard was hospitalized with serious COVID and is in rehab now,” she shares. “He’s in his 70s and very immunocompromised. It’s these moments that mortality hits you in the face.” But in the midst of the storm, Vieira has found the silver lining. “I’m thankful for and take advantage of each day. I ask myself, ‘What are my priorities? What or whom do I care about?’”
These days, the answer is clear: “Family, being present, and taking care of me too,” the 69-year-old says. “I’m an emotional person, and there’s a level of stress each day, but I look at our three kids and at my husband and think, What do I have to complain about? I’m blessed!” Here, read Vieira’s tips for beating stress and staying positive and healthy, inside and out.
1: Lean into new adventures.
“My life has not been linear,” admits Vieira. “When people ask me why I took on 25 Words or Less in my mid-60s, I remember the Robert Frost poem: ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both…I took the one less traveled by…’ I don’t always pick the obvious road because you never know what you’ll find on the other one. Don’t be afraid. I like the challenge. It’s made me a work in progress.”
2: Work your brain.
Vieira gives equal weight to physical exercise and mental exercise — but most of her “brain stretching” is done before she gets out of bed in the morning. “I do word puzzles,” she shares. “The ones in the Los Angeles Times, AARP, USA Today, Jumble, Wordle, Puzzle of the Day. If I finish one, I feel I’ve accomplished something. Exercise your mind in whatever way works for you. It makes you feel so much more energized and sharp.”
3: Breathe in this scent.
When Vieira is feeling stressed, her favorite way to unwind is soaking in a warm bath with lavender — something she keeps in spades around her house. “The smell reminds me of home,” she says. “When my daughter, son-and-law, and I went to Hungary, we were walking the streets and I bought lavender soaps and lotions. But at the airport, I had too much, so we all had to slather it on ourselves to get through security. And guess what? I think it calmed everyone down on the plane!”
4: Learn true love with a pet.
Though Vieira’s beloved 17-year-old dog, Jasper, passed away months ago, she says his legacy of love still brings her joy. “I have a painting of him in the front hall, so when I open the door, I see Jasper,” she says with a smile. “He always made me laugh — such a goofball. I’ll always have animals; they define true love.”
5: Find peace in the great outdoors.
“I try to walk every single day,” Vieira shares. “I get up early to do it and I walk alone, which I like a lot. I just want to be in that moment and enjoy the space that surrounds me. I like the sound of the water or the forest or just nature herself. It’s a rather zen type of relaxation for me. It’s a time and place to clear my head totally and let everything go — it’s so soothing.”
6: Give a daily dose of kindness.
“Every day, I say something nice to a total stranger,” Vieira explains of the ritual that brings her joy. “If I see someone with a nice haircut or a pretty smile, I’ll say it. Earlier today, I said something nice to a checkout lady because she was so helpful to me. Everyone wants to be acknowledged and feel good about themselves. And it makes me feel so good, too.”
Don’t miss ’25 Words or Less.’
As the host of this fast-paced word game show, now in its fourth season, Vieira says she’s having the time of her life — as are the contestants. In it, two teams of celebrities and regular folk vie for a top prize of $10,000 by playing a guessing game using only 25 words. “At the end of the day, it’s so fun and entertaining!” Vieira says. Tune in to watch on Peacock or Tubi.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.