Could podcasts be useful for our mental health? These days, we are always on our phones. Whilst this is often viewed as a negative thing, there are definite pros to being attached at the hip to our devices. One of the major benefits is the fact that we can use them to take our minds off day to day monotony. Every single day, we commute to and from work, walk on the treadmill (or in the park) or sit in an office doing mundane tasks. All of this means that our brains can easily get bored and ‘turn off’.
A solution can be found in the form of podcasts. Our brains are stimulated by podcasts in the same way they are by stories. For instance, a study in 2016 found that listening to a podcast stimulates both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Listening to the human voice activates the parts of the brain which are responsible for “memory, sensory activity, and emotion”.
Listed below are some of the best podcasts for a healthy mind. These include options to help you meditate, learn how to be happier, and even how to understand your brain.
The Mindful Minute
Apple Podcast Rating: 4.9
This is great if you’re looking to get into meditation. Each episode is a short, guided meditation which is led by Meryl Arnett. This is great for allowing you to ‘get out of your own head’. All of the podcast episodes are short and so are super easy to fit into your day, making meditation manageable.
Ten Percent Happier
Apple Podcast Rating: 4.6
This weekly podcast is hosted by Dan Harris who is a veteran news reporter. He breaks down the science of meditation and explains how he made meditation a part of his day. Prior to having a panic attack live on TV, Dan was a meditation skeptic. He uses this platform to share his story as well as gaining insights from experts.
Apple Podcast Rating: 4.6
Hosted by Shankar Vedantam, a social science correspondent for NPR; this is one of the most downloaded podcasts of 2020. The topics are varied and unique and it’s easy to listen to and intriguing. The combination of ‘narrative storytelling’ and ‘easy-to-understand science’ is a winner. Topics include unconscious versus conscious choices, relationships, and what motivates us as humans.
Happier with Gretchen Rueben
Apple Podcast Rating: 4.7
Also available: Spotify and Stitcher
Hosted by Gretchen Rubin and her younger sister Elizabeth Craft, this one is dedicated to being happy and finding happiness. Gretchen is a #1 bestselling author and uses her platform as a podcaster to share her secrets of a happy life. Every episode is full to the brim with practical advice and easy strategies for turning the lemons life gives you into lemonade.
Apple Podcast Rating: 4.4
Untangle is a weekly podcast from the 5-star app, Meditation Studio, and Muse. In each episode, both medical experts and ‘real people’ come together to share how mindfulness practices have improved their lives. Experts previously on the show include psychologists, MDs, and neuroscientists.