In a period of overwhelming everything, here are six wellness podcasts to help you escape through your headphones.
To quiet your mind
The Mindful Minute: Host Meryl Arnett leads listeners on mini (~15 minutes) and full (~30 minutes) meditation practices for stressed-out folks of all experience levels. Each session focuses on a common discomfort or particular mindfulness skill — ranging from controlling your breath and staying present to how to continue on a focused path when the entire world is dealing with a terrifying pandemic. Arnett touches on ways to quiet the mind and high-anxiety cycles, before instructing listeners to close their eyes, breathe in, breathe out, and reset.
Nothing Much Happens (Curiouscast): In a hushed tone, yoga and meditation teacher Kathryn Nicolai tells intentionally boring “bedtime stories for grownups.” As the name implies, nothing much happens in these stories, as Nicolai encourages listeners to get into bed and listen to an aimless (but lovely) tale that she tells twice in an increasingly slow, low voice. Her goal is to lull you to sleep with cozy details, a soothing voice, and comforting imagery — it’s a road to escapism and REM.
To nurture your body
Ali on the Run: Host Ali Feller says she wants to be “your running buddy” — but she also makes a great “long walk around the block” buddy. In each hour-long episode, Feller chats with runners about their inspirations, challenges, and how exercise has transformed their lives and perspectives. In Episode 192, Boston Marathon bombing survivor Adrianne Haslet discusses her journey to rebuilding and finding deep, meaningful purpose in the aftermath. It’s one you may have to slow down your pace and wipe your eyes for.
Meditative Story (WaitWhat + Thrive Global): As we find ourselves wandering outdoors for a socially distanced change of scenery, the regularly scheduled true crime binge-listen might not be the best pairing. Every episode of this podcast features a vivid first-person narrative read by someone fascinating, heightened by an ambient cinematic soundtrack. The immersive story pauses throughout, with host Rohan Gunatillake providing mindfulness prompts to consider. The audio experience is designed to be all-encompassing, and as you stroll through the neighborhood, you might forget where you are and all that’s happening in the world. And for many of us, wouldn’t that be nice — if only for a few minutes?
To lift your spirit
Happiness Spells: Five-minute lists of things to be happy about. It sounds uncomplicated — it is — but this thrice-a-week mini podcast is a laundry list of satisfying things, like “a really elaborate charcuterie board,” “offering up supplies to a neighbor who needs a few things,” and “the sound of rain tapping on the roof.” (Disclaimer: There is a specific demographic this is likely to resonate with, which becomes clear long before the five minutes are up.) Dreamy music and occasional ASMR accompany the slow, simple (but really specific) read, ending with an uplifting mantra to send you on your way. The producers have since stepped up the pace, now offering daily editions for 30 days, for those looking to pause for a little joy among the chaos.
The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos (Pushkin Industries): Santos teaches Yale’s most popular course in history: Psychology and the Good Life, where she instructs students on how to live happier lives. Now she can instruct you. In addition to putting her class online for free (1.3 million have already enrolled), her podcast zones in on the issue at hand: How do we stay happy in a time of social distancing and coronavirus? In her latest episodes, Santos and mental health experts explore ways to combat the challenges of our time: loneliness, fear, anxiety. Happiness might be difficult to find, but resilience can be a step in the right direction.