Best Podcasts for Managing Stress & Anxiety During the Coronavirus Pandemic
You’re quarantined. I’m quarantined. We’re all quarantined!!!!
(…and if you’re in the U.S. and NOT currently quarantined, stop waiting for your state’s governor to get the freaking PANDEMIC memo, gurl, and GET. IN. YOUR. HOUSE!!!)
In April 2020, we all have a heightened level of stress and anxiety. If life is a highway, then coronavirus is the carjacker who held a gun to your head and forced you into the passenger’s seat. With COVID-19 at the wheel, we no longer have control over where we’re going, what we’re doing, or when the ride will be over.
When you need an escape from the stress and anxiety death spiral of your mind, the right podcast might be just what the (virtual) doctor ordered. For me, podcasts are like a personalized Sanity-on-Demand, a custom portfolio of trusted content that provides the exact mental medicine I need at any given moment.
Great content has a way of making the world around us just a little bit more doable, and podcasts are no exception. The right podcast can provide a mental escape, or make you feel more connected to humankind. Other podcasts offer a different perspective by laying out situations in a different context (e.g., psychology, world history, biology, politics). In doing so, podcasts can give you a better understanding of not only your personal experience, but your understanding of the world as a whole.
I recommend the following podcasts to help ease some of your stress and anxiety in this incredibly difficult time. Stay safe, stay sane, and through the power of podcasts, may you find a little bit more peace in this messy and unpredictable world.
The Happiness Lab
The Happiness Lab is hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos, a Professor of Psychology at Yale University. Her course, “Psychology and the Good Life”, teaches students how the science of psychology can be used to make wiser choices in order to live a happier and more fulfilling life. It recently became Yale’s most popular course in over 300 years.
The Happiness Lab podcast brings her expertise to the masses, combining scientific research with surprising and inspiring stories that will forever alter the way you think about happiness.
Best of all, The Happiness Lab recently released a set of special bonus episodes on how to maintain wellbeing in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Untangle is hosted by Patricia Karpas, cofounder of the Meditation Studio app (voted one of the 10 Best Apps of the Year on Apple Podcasts!) and guest hosted by Ariel Garten, creator of Muse: The Brain-Sensing Headband.
As the podcast’s subtitle suggests, Untangle is all about “mindfulness for curious humans”. The show tells “inspiring, uncensored stories from people who have untangled from society’s giant rule book to create a meaningful life”.
The podcast offers many of the same benefits of meditation — a more peaceful mind, reduction in stress levels, a sense of intention, and inspiration to slow down.
Guests on Untangle range from psychologists, neuroscientists, and nutritionists to storytellers, buddhists, and sleep experts. It’s a wide collection of thoughtful, provocative, and inspirational interviews with guests sharing their true and heartfelt experiences.
Host Jenna Monaco describes herself as a “certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, stress coach and divine feminine embodiment facilitator”. Her podcast, Spark Intention, is the perfect medium to bring her passion and purpose to a larger audience.
Living in quarantine can cause your days to mush together into one indistinguishable mass. You can fight back by setting intentions each day, which — as Jenna will profess — is the first step in making anything happen.
Spark Intention is designed to help people heal their stress and anxiety with natural methods. The show is committed to helping listeners break through their fears and step into a lifetime of success.
LeVar Burton Reads
At a time when we’re so estranged from the things that once defined safety in adulthood — e.g., structure, stability, and free will — it is a natural human instinct to crave our childhood comforts. For many of us — myself included — LeVar Burton and the mental escape of his storytelling on Reading Rainbow is a treasured icon of childhood nostalgia.
On each episode, Mr. Burton reads a piece of celebrated short fiction against a complimentary soundscape. With his signature vocal stylings and a fan following that spans multiple genres and decades, it’s no surprise that LeVar Burton Reads has found an enthusiastic listener base.
In these difficult times, LeVar is someone you can trust to gently guide you away for a quick timeout from the heaviness of 2020 life. Through the simple pleasure of reading us a story, LeVar Burton Reads serves a spoonful of the most medicinal qualities of our childhood: innocence and imagination.
P.S.: LeVar is also spreading the love during the coronavirus crisis by reading stories three times a week via Twitter livestream for kids, teens and adults stuck at home in quarantine.
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
If you’re not familiar with Dr. Brené Brown, she is a professor, lecturer, author, and (of course) a podcaster who has dedicated her career to the study of courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy.
Brené is the author of five New York Times best-sellers (The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, Braving the Wilderness, and Dare to Lead), and her TED talk — “The Power of Vulnerability” — is one of the top five most viewed TED Talks in the world.
Brené has a remarkable gift for taking enigmatic, universal concepts (e.g., courage, vulnerability, shame, and empathy) and translating them into real, knowable things that will help you make sense of your life and the world around you for the rest of time. I hope we can all agree that if there’s anything we need more of during a pandemic-fueled quarantine (besides sanity, money, stability, etc.), it’s that.
On her podcast, Unlocking Us, Brené “unpacks and explores the ideas, stories, experiences, books, films, and music that reflect the universal experiences of being human”. That may sound like an impossibly broad mission statement, but if anyone can tackle it, it’s Brené. At a time when we’re all craving human connection more than ever, her podcast hits the nail on the head.
On Being with Krista Tippett
The world we thought we knew has been turned upside down. This leaves many of us staring down the big life questions that are so easy to drown out in the buzz of happier times: What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose? What actually matters to me? Where can I turn to find strength?
If you’re looking to find answers to these questions — or at least to explore them a bit further — tune in to On Being with Krista Tippett.
On Being is a public radio program of 16 years that still airs on more than 400 public radio stations. Her show is now available as a podcast — bringing Krista’s groundbreaking Peabody Award-winning conversations to a new generation of non-radio listeners.
Using the lens of six grounding virtues — spiritual inquiry, science, social healing, community, poetry, and the arts — Krista and the guests on her show explore the big questions of meaning.
If you want to be reminded of the importance of exploration and intellectual thought, check out On Being. It offers material that will help you stay open to the magic of the universe, even in these deeply challenging times.