Podcasts have existed for over a decade, although their popularity has seen a dramatic increase in the last few years. Modern technology has made them widely available, and many of them are free. With a quick search, you will find everything from celebrity interviews to the secret lives of insects; it’s fair to say there is now a podcast for everything. You can come across many that are marketed at individuals to help them reduce stress and relax, but is there any real substance to these claims? It’s important to remember that everything is subjective, so what works for one individual, may not work for another. But we’re looking into whether, for some people, podcasts can help to manage stress and take a look into some of your most favourite series.

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What is Stress?

Almost everyone will feel stressed at some point. The pressure at work or a tough personal situation can cause our bodies to stimulate the ‘fight or flight’ response, a theory established in the 1920s by Walter Cannon. This is an ancient and innate reaction designed to help us respond quickly to dangerous situations. Not all stress is deemed detrimental; the impact felt can help us through a tough situation such as meeting a short work deadline or running a marathon. While this type of reaction is standard for humans, and indeed many animals, too much, may begin to cause issues. Research by the Mental Health Foundation states that stress becomes a problem when our stress response is activated repeatedly without allowing our bodies time to recover. The resulting pressure may make you feel run down and unable to cope.

Signs of Stress

Further information from the same organisation, The Mental Health Foundation tells us that long term stress can affect our physical and mental health. Their studies also record behavioural changes as a result, including increased irritation or aggression, becoming withdrawn or indecisive or a difference in the way someone would usually react in a situation, or towards others. Other signs of chronic stress suggested can cause some to experience headaches, bodily tension and increased heart rate. These effects can lead to reduced sleep and have an impact on memory and appetite.

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Can Podcasts Ease the Effects?

Along with identifying the problem and taking better care of yourself, mindfulness is among the recommendations for reducing stress. Scientists from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore summarised the data from 47 trials and concluded that mindfulness and meditation could indeed help to ease the physiological impacts of stress, depression and pain. Many podcasts that aim to reduce stress focus predominately on mindfulness and meditation or insightful advice. If executed well, it stands to reason as an effective method of stress reduction. So why not give it a go? We’ve looked into the most listened to podcasts that aim to reduce stress, and choose some of our favourites.

James Smith Podcast

Personal trainer James Smith gives insightful advice on fitness and life in general. Genuine and funny, James talks about what he’s learnt during his life and travels and discusses what it means to be happy. Whether that’s exercising for the right reasons, or being happy in your job.

Mindfulness in 8 Weeks: 20 Minutes a Day Program

A guided meditation that aims to help you clear your mind and experience the awareness of mindfulness and meditation. The narrator has a clear and calming voice that helps increase focus. This podcast can suit all abilities, whether you are a complete beginner, or are practised but enjoy guidance.

Happy Place

Radio presenter Fearne Cotton hosts interesting and insightful interviews with people from within the entertainment industry from actor Dawn French to author Juno Dawson. The discussions focus on mental health journeys and self-discovery with advice on how you can apply this to your situation.

If you enjoy listening to these podcasts or want to find out more about mindfulness and meditation, feel free to browse our journal for more information. Our yoga retreat holidays offer the chance to practice yoga and meditation in bespoke settings, tailored to you.