It’s been a while, hasn’t it, since we last strolled in a park, went to the movies, hung out in a cafe and did other outdoor activities without fear? It doesn’t seem like normalcy will return soon. A vaccine for COVID-19 is likely to be available only in 2021. Until then, we have to get used to what’s being called ‘the new normal’. But this isn’t easy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and increase stress and anxiety. This week’s podcasts list, we hope, will help you deal with the mental repercussions of the pandemic.
The daily podcast is the latest offering from the widely popular meditation app, Headspace. The app was started by Andy Puddicombe, who’d spent 10 years as a Buddhist monk in various parts of Asia. He returned to London in 2005 and set up a small meditation centre. Then came the app, which now has 10 million-plus downloads on Play Store. In the podcast, Andy talks about awareness and compassion (to ourselves and others around us) that can help us in our lives, especially in these times. Andy draws from his experiences as a monk to explain how to deal with difficult situations. Also, his soothing voice makes this a go-to podcast on an especially tough day.
Episode length: Five minutes (on average) Available on: Google podcast, Apple podcast, Spotify and more
Making Sense With Sam Harris
This podcast hosted by Sam Harris isn’t primarily made to help anxiety. In fact some of the questions that it deals with — like ‘does free will exist?’ and ‘will AI take over humanity?’ — can trigger existential worries. But Sam, who’s regarded as one of the Four Horsemen of New Age Atheism, illuminates these subjects with some of the leading scholars and experts in science and philosophy. These discussions help us understand ourselves and the world around us better. Sam, despite being an atheist, also has keen interest in spirituality. His meditation app, Waking Up, has over half a million downloads on the Play Store.
Episode length: More than one hour (on average) Available on: Google podcast, Apple podcast, samharris.org and more.
How To! With Charles Duhigg (Slate Podcasts)
What if you had a chance to seek answers for your problems (ranging from lack of sleep to voting for the next President) from world-leading experts? That’s How To! With Charles Duhigg in a nutshell.
Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer-prize winning reporter and the author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better.
The idea behind the podcast series, as the show’s description states, is “What if Dear Abby was an investigative journalist?”. Duhigg approaches the seemingly mundane issues earnestly but manages to keep the tone of the show casual. Some of the latest episodes could be useful to us, especially now. In ‘How To Actually Enjoy Working from Home’, he gets Ben Waber, an organizational scientist, to talk about how to make optimal use of our working space at home.
Episode length: 30 minutes (on average). Available on: Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, slate.com and more.
The Happiness Lab
Psychology and the Good Life, taught by Laurie Santos, is the most popular class in over three centuries of Yale University. Laurie, when she started the course, didn’t expect this overwhelming interest. The Happiness Lab is a way of taking the subject to people outside Yale. The podcast, much like her course, offers a scientific perspective of happiness. It reveals the misconceptions about happiness and talks about habits that would help us increase our well-being. There are few pandemic-special episodes as well. If you like the podcast, you can enrol for her Yale University course, which is now available for free on the online learning platform Coursera.
Episode length: 30 minutes (on average) Available on: Google podcast, Apple podcast, happinesslab.fm and more