Podcasts – those intimate, accessible and free audio files – have revolutionised our listening habits. Podcast subscriptions on iTunes exceeded one billion in 2013, and an ABC survey in 2016 suggested that committed podcast audiences listen to an average of 5½ per week, with nearly one in five enthusiasts tuning in to 11 or more weekly.
Podcasts are appealing because they can be tailored to our individual interests with minimal effort and cost, says psychologist and social commentator Sabina Read, who until recently co-hosted the weekly Good Thinking radio program with Dr Michael Carr-Gregg. (They no longer make Good Thinking but, fittingly, all their shows are available as podcasts.)
“Podcasts are really a personal learning tool for the masses, whether your interests include sport, relationships, technology, news, health, family or comedy,” she says. “They have the benefit of providing easy-to-digest sound bites that allow us to learn and grow while still carrying on with other daily activities like driving to work or walking the dog. There’s also something very appealing about listening to people’s nuanced voices and emotional tones that can create a sense of human connection.”
With hundreds of thousands of podcasts available, it can be tricky to know where to begin. Here’s a round-up of some of the best for mind, body and spirit.
Good Life Project
In his weekly podcast, author and entrepreneur Jonathan Fields unpicks big topics like meaning, happiness, purpose, creativity, confidence and success. Fields’ curiosity means he gives his guests (who range from Brené Brown and Seth Godin to everyday people) the space and time to dive deep.
The Slow Home Podcast
So many of us are too busy, too stressed and too tired. Brooke McAlary’s podcast is the perfect antidote. She explores what can help us live a slower and simpler life, such as developing rituals for gratitude and single-tasking, meditation, screen-free bedrooms and frugal hedonism (yes, it’s a thing).
Straight and Curly
It might sound a bit Oprah-esque, but if you’re looking to improve yourself and live your best life, then Carly Jacobs and Kelly Exeter’s podcast is for you. Jacobs and Exeter are self-improvement junkies who discuss the side effects of living a hectic life and offer tips, advice and strategies to get your calm on. They present a personable, funny podcast with heaps of life hacks – a fresh one each week – from learning to say no to being more decisive.
Optimal Living Daily
While it has a plain title, Justin Malik’s daily podcast is anything but ordinary. A digest of what he calls the internet’s best content, Malik narrates blog posts (with permission from their authors) which mainly examine personal development, minimalism and productivity. It could be a recipe for dullness, but Malik is skilled at curating compelling and challenging episodes. With each coming in at around 10 minutes, OLD is a bite-sized summary of what’s currently great on the web.
If you’re someone who likes your wellbeing and health advice backed up by scientific evidence, it’s hard to go past this podcast by ABC Radio National. The host, Dr Norman Swan, cuts through medical jargon to make complex topics digestible for listeners who want to know more about subjects such as allergies, the impact of sugar, brain training and brown fat. It’s the perfect dose for those who wish their GP was up to date with the latest research and had half an hour to spend with them each week.
How to find great podcasts
• Ask your friends what they’re listening to.
• Search by topic to find the podcast that suits your interests.
• You can subscribe to podcasts via platforms such as iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and PodBean.