Self-help comes in many formats. A walk in the woods, books, flyers, and websites. In the past few years podcasts have become an integral part of the mental health landscape. Research and evidence based practice shapes psychological best practice. Unfortunately access to peer reviewed articles is limited outside of academia, and to be honest working your way through methodology and statistics in these articles can be quite tiresome. The joy of podcasts is that they often find a clever mix of researcher interviews, personal story, and fun antidotes from the host.
While many of us turn to podcasts for our unsolved crime fix or celebrity interviews perhaps we also need to enlighten our lives with wellness insight. Long drives can turn into self-improvement sessions and spark insightful conversations with friends and family. A walk or run with a podcast in your ear may ignite a goal in your life or a new perspective on an old problem. When thinking about this month’s theme Revival I think about renewal or coming out of something. The first half of 2020 certainly took a toll on so many of us. It is possible that an inspiring story or new psychological strategy can help create the change so many of us are craving right now.
If you have ever opened the podcast app on your phone, in iTunes, or Spotify you will know it can be overwhelming knowing where to start. The following is a quick start guide to some of my go to podcasts.
My new favourite is called The Happiness Lab. Dr. Laurie Santos is a psychology professor at Yale who created a class about happiness that ended up being one of the most popular at the university. She has effectively turned this class into a podcast and takes you through a journey of longevity studies looking at what truly makes us happy and how to improve our overall happiness factor. Spoiler alert it is not found in money, big houses, or toys but rather in the connection we have to other people. If you are looking to improve your connection with others and how to explore vulnerability Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us will help. Need relationship guidance? Check out expert couple therapist Esther Perel’s Where Should We Begin where you can be a fly on the wall in real couple’s therapy sessions in hoped to integrate the theories into your own life.
Mindfulness is a hot topic in mental health right now. The podcast Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris interviews leading experts and researchers about mindfulness practices and other wellness topics such as emotional wellness, habit forming behaviours, and stress management. He also interviews neuroscientist and sleep researcher Dr. Matthew Walker on how to improve your sleep (episode 221). It may terrify you to learn what happens to your body when it does not sleep, and it will provide you will effective strategies to improve your sleep hygiene. If you, like many, have a difficult time falling asleep go find the podcast called Nothing Much Happens Bedtime Stories to Help You Sleep. The woman who writes and reads the stories has such a pleasant voice you will return to your childhood days of falling asleep to a story in no time.
These are just a few of many podcasts available to us and our health needs. It is important to note that podcasts and other self-help materials should never be a replacement for psychological or medical care. If you are finding yourself in significant distress, please reach out to your physician or mental health provider for help.