The global trauma we’ve all lived through is “going to take years to process”, said Emma Dibdin in The New York Times. And as things slowly return to normal, many of us are anxious to pick up “where we left off”. Of the hundreds of meditation and mindfulness apps offering “peace in the palm of your hand”, Radio Headspace is arguably the best. The soothing voice of Andy Puddicombe, the former monk who started Headspace, will be “familiar to millions as the app’s default deliverer of Zen”; it contains many episodes specifically geared to navigating post-pandemic life.
Then there’s Terrible, Thanks for Asking, a “compassionate, darkly hilarious” podcast from author (and self-described “notable widow”) Nora McInerny, in which people “share the unvarnished truth about their darkest moments”. Tempered by an undercurrent of hope, it’s an “ideal companion as we all try to move on from the manifold losses of the past year”.
But for those of you who roll your eyes at the very idea of “life coaching”, said Dibdin, let me recommend Kara Loewentheil. A Harvard-educated ex-lawyer, she steers clear of “self-empowerment clichés or woo-woo truisms”. Instead, her Unf*ck Your Brain podcast offers “no-nonsense insights” about how your anxious brain “might be sabotaging you” and what to do about it.
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No-nonsense clarity is also the hallmark of the terrific Radio 4 podcast Just One Thing, said James Marriott in The Times. In it, doctor and broadcaster Michael Mosley presents simple techniques for improving wellbeing. None of his suggestions are “especially recherché” – do sit-ups, take a cold shower, go for an early morning walk, take a warm bath before bed: it’s the science behind them, “surprising and engagingly explained”, that makes them shine. His No. 1 tip: deep breathing exercises that can boost concentration, improve sleep, cut stress and even help with chronic pain.
The Blindboy Podcast “has long been the choice of the clever and anxious listener”, said Miranda Sawyer in The Observer. Blindboy is an Irish artist, musician and comedian who frequently discusses depression, agoraphobia and his successful experience of cognitive behavioural therapy. A recent episode featuring a discussion of the human brain with neuroscientist Dr Sabina Brennan is a “lovely, encouraging listen”.
Finally, there’s How Do You Cope? ...with Elis and John, a brilliant, award-winning interview show that covers all manner of mental health difficulties, and is “ideal for all ages”. My main audio recommendation, though, for anyone suffering mentally, is to pick whatever you like listening to – be it “music, documentaries, funny shows, BUT NOT NEWS”–and go for a walk in the park with your earphones in. “Honestly, that will always help.”
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