How podcasts can benefit the brain

Podcasting has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years, especially after the world was turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. After spending 2 years in relative isolation, more people have turned to the audio/visual long-form media that is podcasting. 

Since the height of the pandemic, there has been a significant increase in mental health issues. According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an increase of 25% in the prevalence of anxiety and depression across the globe. 

Let’s explore some of the potential benefits along with suggestions for new podcasts to improve your brain and mental health! 

Helps reduce stress and anxiety 

As it turns out, soothing sounds and music can promote your brain to release oxytocin. Also known as the “love hormone,” oxytocin is a chemical in your brain that has a positive effect on your emotions, including relaxation. According to a study by the University of Valencia in Spain, even in brief, guided mindfulness meditation, your oxytocin can increase, reducing your stress and anxiety. 

John de Ruiter is a spiritual mentor who has a podcast available on Spotify and also provides online sessions. His content focuses on the meaning of life and finding a deeper purpose within oneself. During the height of the pandemic, he brought his sessions online to provide support to those struggling with the situation by offering spiritual guidance. John is well known for his message and soothing content and could just be the podcast you need to ease your mind and spirit. 

You also might consider checking out Ten Percent Happier: a podcast hosted by Dan Harris, a journalist who suffered from a panic attack on live television. Now, he explores meditation and even enlightenment, while interviewing guests from celebrities like his holiness the Dalai Lama. He shows that even if incremental, everyone can improve their happiness through the art of meditation. 

A little adrenaline can be good for you 

There’s something that can be exciting about a scary situation. The element of fear may be unpleasant for some, while others enjoy the adrenaline rush of a good scare. That’s perhaps why scary series have such popularity on Netflix while true crime surges on Spotify. 

Crime Weekly is a popular true crime podcast hosted by true crime YouTuber creator Stephanie Harlowe and retired police detective Derrick Levasseur. The hosts discuss crimes making headlines while also diving deeper into cases that have fascinated them both personally and professionally. The duo also has its own brand of coffee, in which a portion of the proceeds goes to organizations that are dedicated to ending crime. 

Improves your mood

Laughter is one of the best natural medicines, so turning to a good old comedy podcast can be just the thing you need when you’re feeling a little down. A 2017 study by the Journal of Neuroscience shows that when you laugh with others, your brain releases endorphins. This feel-good chemical induces your brain like opioids without the harmful side effects. It lowers your cortisol levels, which makes it ideal when you’re having a rough day. 

When you hear something funny, the frontal lobe of your brain will assess a joke and determine whether or not it’s funny. If the lobe deems the joke funny, it sends a wave to the cerebral cortex and your body responds accordingly – whether it’s a giggle or a laugh. 

Two Hot Takes is a comedy podcast hosted by Morgan Absher and her team of co-hosts who scavenge the internet to give their hot takes on multiple topics from dating, relationships, and advice. 

What did you think of the suggestions? There are plenty of podcasts out there to meet your personal needs, so don’t be shy and take a look through Spotify or Apple Podcasts and see what you can find to give your brain a little boost.