Your next favorite podcast could improve your mental health.
by Reem Khaleel Oct 10, 2022
Does it ever feel like the walls are caving in on you? That’s what it sometimes feels like when I experience anxiety. Although my symptoms during an episode might differ from someone else’s, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5), aka the holy grail of clinical disorders for mental health professionals, defines anxiety as “excessive worry and apprehensive expectations, occurring more days than not for at least six months, about a number of events or activities, such as work or school performance.” Anxiousness can be related to a number of things in your life, including worry about the future, job security, or even personal relationships. It’s also possible to experience anxiety in varying levels, from occasional anxiousness to overly panicked, or to have anxiety over specific scenarios, like having a fear of social situations. You might also find it difficult to control your fear of the future, which can indicate an anxiety disorder if the anxiety and worry form three or more of the following symptoms:
Feelings of restlessness or feeling on edge
Being easily fatigued
Having difficulty concentrating or having a blank mind
Experiencing muscle tension
I didn’t fully realize how bad my anxiety had gotten until I started deeply relating to songs like Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood” and Taylor Swift’s “this is me trying.” Even after recognizing specific symptoms when they occurred, I would let myself spiral during anxious episodes because I didn’t know how to properly cope. If you also don’t know where to begin when worry arises, join me on my recent discovery of anxiety podcasts, a plethora of channels that I’ve found relaxing and comforting during moments when I’m overly stressed, incredibly nervous, or my anxiety is at an all-time high.
For simple, expert-backed tips on how to manage anxiety, start with these nine all-too-relatable podcasts:
Have you ever gone to a party and felt overwhelmingly uncomfortable at the mere prospect of talking to someone? Or maybe you’ve excessively worried about being judged by others to the point where you avoided meeting new people altogether. If this sounds like you, Your Social Anxiety Bestie hosted by Sadie Hall might be the podcast to help coax you “out of your shell.” On this podcast, Hall discusses her own struggles with social anxiety and occasionally speaks with experts about the various ways social anxiety manifests (like at grocery store checkouts). In the latest season, Hall even refers to her personal struggles with social anxiety to discuss what life can look like once the daily struggle to converse subsides (because yes, with persistence, it’s totally possible).
Hall created this podcast to not only discuss social anxiety but to help build a community for those who suffer from it on a daily basis. Through her active Instagram community and Patreon club, she hosts monthly Zoom hangouts and a quarterly book club where you can connect with other listeners and benefit from private bonus episodes of Your Social Anxiety Bestie that focus on answering questions from fans.
Keep calm and listen on with The Transforming Anxiety Podcast, hosted by Kelly Hanlin McCormick. McCormick uses her experience as a certified life coach, yoga instructor, and mindfulness meditation teacher to create a calming podcast that helps quiet the mind and ease the soul. Episodes focus on practicing mindful meditation and meaningful and long-lasting self-care practices to create a sense of calm amidst the chaos. Unlike other self-care practitioners, McCormick focuses her coaching on ways to care for yourself that far exceed bubble baths and massages. Her teachings center on practical tools and steps to managing anxiety, like learning to say no and setting boundaries, practicing self-compassion instead of self-deprecation, and goal setting to support daily routines and habits. By each episode’s end, you’ll feel more empowered to combat your daily triggers.
The key to handling your anxiety starts by quieting the toughest critic in your life: you. The Calmer You podcast hosted by Chloe Brotheridge focuses on replacing negative self-talk with positive words of affirmation to boost overall calmness and confidence and break free of your inner critic. Even in times of uncertainty, Brotheridge asks that listeners focus on their highest needs to ensure they’re presenting the best versions of themselves — not just for the world, but for them. You’re important too, boo.
It doesn’t matter what level your anxiety is — whether you’re anxious, deeply panicked, or somewhere in between — Not Another Anxiety Show, hosted by registered nurse and certified health and wellness coach Kelli Walker, is relatable. Walker’s main goals in this informative podcast are to help you understand what anxiety really is and how to best prepare for when it wreaks havoc. This semi-monthly podcast offers expert commentary as well as simple yet effective coping strategies (like breathing exercises for those who struggle with breathwork) to add to your daily routine. Some tips might seem unconventional (like Walker’s alternative to deep breathing), but we promise they’re science-backed and incredibly successful.
In Owning It: The Anxiety Podcast, inspired by Caroline Foran’s non-fiction book, Owning It: Your Bullsh*t-Free Guide to Living With Anxiety, Foran shares her first-hand experience with anxious episodes, chats with celebrities like actress Jameela Jamil and former Disney Channel child star Alyson Stoner about their personal experiences with anxiety, and interviews experts on coping strategies for listeners to implement in their daily lives. Every few months, Foran even provides short and simple how-to guides as bonus content, like her “Step-by-step guide to regaining control in an anxious wave,” which teaches listeners how to coach themselves or loved ones out of panic attacks. Listeners leave with the understanding of what panic attacks are, why they even happen in the first place, and how to persevere through them.
The Anxiety Coaches podcast hosted by Gina Ryan shares everyday lifestyle changes that dissipate anxiety and encourage relaxation. Published twice a week, each episode can help you learn new ways to free yourself from anxiety hell through mindfulness strategies, like shifting negative self-talk and letting go of unrealistic standards you might hold for yourself. By each episode’s end, you’ll feel inspired to practice relaxation techniques during even the darkest of times.
If you’ve ever answered, “Fine” to someone’s, “How are you?” when all you really wanted was to clue them in on the fact that everything actually is not “fine,” then this podcast is for you. Nora McInerny created Terrible, Thanks for Asking for all the finers out there who yearn to discuss how they’re really doing in a safe environment. This weekly podcast encourages listeners to honestly and openly reach out with their most complicated feelings, no matter how messy or sad, so that life can be approached as is, sans rose-colored glasses.
Self-care is the best care — at least, according to Selfie, it is. Hosted by Kristen Howerton and Matthias Roberts, Selfie offers listeners an engaging mix of humor and seriousness by answering silly questions about self-care (like explaining the often strange-sounding ingredients in face masks) and serious-ish questions (like how personalities play roles in maintaining adequate self-care practices). With a centralized focus on the connection between self-care and mental health, this weekly podcast often discusses anxiety and a range of other interesting topics, including the daily distractions and defenses that often prevent people from practicing self-care in the first place. In fact, this podcast would probably say that your 8 a.m. work deadline combined with your 8:30 a.m. daily spin class, followed by your 10 a.m. staff meeting is getting in the way of your self-care routine. Even relaying that can be anxiety-provoking…
In The Mental Illness Happy Hour, comedian Paul Gilmartin uses lighthearted banter to discuss anxiety and other mental health topics with several notable celebrity guests, including comedian Tiffany Haddish and YouTuber Connor Franta. Smiling and laughing your way out of anxious thoughts is the idea behind this humorous weekly podcast, with Gilmartin’s overall intent to remind listeners that finding a reason to smile through their darkest days is one of the best remedies for remaining hopeful and maintaining a positive outlook on life.