Last Night A Podcast Saved My Life

I am totally addicted to podcasts. Specifically, podcasts on self-help.

I know the term ‘self-help’ can sound a bit wanky, but at the heart of it, it’s just people being honest. About their dreams,  routines, personal stories, overcoming obstacles, dealing with failure, figuring out what they want, beating procrastination, and creating and sticking to good habits.

Since I started commuting to work three hours’ a day – one and half hours each way at least – I listen to podcasts pretty much everyday, with a bit of music and meditation apps thrown in.

And even though I feel relatively new to the space, as I’ve only been listening properly for six months or so, it’s still no exaggeration to say that this stuff has changed my life.

I’ve been interested in self-help and motivational techniques for years, but there’s something about podcasts that just feel like you’re getting personal tutoring or counselling from experts directly into your ears.

Sometimes, reading just wouldn’t work. f I’m walking to a bus stop or getting on and off a train when I’m listening ‒ the effect of headphones in-ear, plus a brilliant podcast, feels incredibly meditative yet also engaging.

Maybe it’s just the way that I learn best, but somehow, listening to this stuff in this way just works. It sinks in much easier that a quick blogpost or article or book chapter might. If I’m too tired, rushed or squashed on to a train to read, I can nearly always listen.

Often, interviewees and guests on one podcast will have their own podcasts or have many others they can recommend, and so listening to one show will inevitably lead to another brilliant subscription to another one in a similar vein.

Couple this with other sources of similar self-help (or honest conversations) ‒ such as books or posts by inspirational bloggers, writers, entrepreneurs, online coaches, psychologists and TED talks…

…and I can honestly say I’m feeling more productive, disciplined, free, and calm yet focused than I have in a long while.

For someone as anxious and over-thinking as me, there are always bad mental health days to go with the good, of course, but these podcasts certainly help. Here are my absolute go-to listens for when I need a boost, a break from the frustration of commuting, or a good push in the right direction.

 

Dear Sugar

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From the incredible writer Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond, this relationship agony-aunt-style show was my first podcast (well, apart from the first season of American Life’s blockbuster Serial, of course). I quickly became addicted to the soothing, understanding, straight-talking yet compassionate and often very funny insights into readers’ often-harrowing dilemmas. I listen to this one when I’m feeling a bit vulnerable or confused, and need the unending wisdom of Strayed to comfort me. It never fails to cheer me up about life and love.

What I’ve learned most: The solution to most issues in life is: stand up for yourself without being rude, be kind, put yourself in the other person’s shoes, and communicate, communicate, communicate.

 

Real Talk Radio

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Far and away one of my favourites. Nicole Antoinette – former accountability coach, full-time habit changer, and now badass podcast host – has incredibly detailed, honest but relaxed conversations about what she calls ‘the wonderful mess of being human’. Long enough for an entire commute, these sessions feel like listening to chats between wise yet wonderful, creative women, who feel like mentors but who secretly I kind of think I want to be friends with, too.

What I’ve learned most: Habits can be changed if you want to change them, and it’s as important to know when you’re letting yourself ‘off the hook’ from a commitment, as it is to give yourself a damn break when you need it, too.

 

The School of Greatness

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From Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete and now successful lifestyle and motivation coach, this podcast is super-positive without being ridiculously cheesy, and features inspiring stories, humour, and ‘you can do it’ motivational music. Sometimes a little bit ‘blokey’ – with sports stars trading bro stories and exercise buffs discussing workout routines – it is nonetheless a vulnerable, honest, and endlessly powerful listen.

What I’ve learned most: Your dreams can change, and that’s OK; and that choosing your own priorities in life (rather than following everyone else’s) is totally the best policy wherever possible.

 

Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert

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The patron saint of young women looking for their purpose in life, Elizabeth Gilbert’s (author of Eat, Pray, Love among others) podcasts are like extensions of her books. As interviews and conversations about creativity and giving yourself permission to chase it, these episodes are wise, empathetic, humorous, down-to-earth (at times!), wonderfully artistic, and incredibly encouraging.

What I’ve learned most: Art is a seriously good way to get in touch with your inner emotion, playfulness, freedom – and doing it with absolutely no real purpose or money-making is sometimes actually the best way.

 

The Couragemakers

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From Meg Kissack, who is easily one of the most genuinely frank people I know online, this podcast is more rough and ready than some of the super-polished American blockbusters, and I totally love it for that. It deals with the same questions as the others – honesty, truth, creativity, and going deep on your life’s goals – but in a really down-to-earth, reassuring way. Meg’s blog is equally comforting and inspiring, and I read it most days to remind myself that my ideas and dreams are worth having

What I’ve learned most: As Meg says, ‘everything changes when you believe you matter’.

What are your favourite podcasts? Do you love them too or are you more of a books/blogs person?

Drop me a line @HannahsRhapsody 🙂

Other podcasts I listen to pretty regularly

  1. Impostercast, by Jordan Axani and Megan Rafuse – honest episodes of varying length on life and the sense all have that we might just be faking it until we get found out
  2. Modern Love, by WBUR and The New York Times – beautiful stories on life-changing experiences on love and life, with touching interviews with ordinary people
  3. Zestology: Live with Energy, Vitality, Motivation, Health, Confidence, Great Sleep, Biohacking, and more – a new one I’ve discovered since getting into NLP. Down-to-earth yet inspiring stuff from Brit Tony Wrighton
  4. The 5am Miracle with Jeff Sanders – Healthy Habits, Personal Developments, Rockin’ Productivity – Podcasts on the theme of ‘dominating the day before breakfast’, this is born of Jeff Sanders’ habit of getting out of bed at 5am and getting incredible things done before everyone else is awake. Getting up at 5am sounds far too extreme for me, but the idea that you can change your morning habits and start the day on a high, rather than a harsh, caffeine-soaked shock to the system is a compelling one.
  5. Unmistakeable Creative – Varied podcasts on all sorts of issues affecting creatives and entrepreneurs, from business strategy to personal confidence. Hoping to really get into this one soon.

Other podcasts I’ve downloaded because they look amazing/useful/popular but have yet to really get into. It’s only a matter of time! 

  1. Being Boss: Mindset, Habits, Tactics, and Lifestyle For Creative Entrepreneurs
  2. Ctrl Alt Delete
  3. Running On Om
  4. Happier with Gretchen Rubin
  5. The Fizzle Show – Heart and Hustle, Self-Employment, & Creative Business
  6. The Tim Ferris Show
  7. The Becoming Podcast
  8. Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield
  9. The RobCast
  10. The Girl Gang Conversations – Sarah Starrs
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A level results day: Why my best lessons at uni had nothing to do with my degree

Image credit: PA / Daily Mail (obvs)

Today is A-Level results day, and apart from the mandatory media photos of pretty 18-year-olds jumping up and down clutching their results (above), there will also be many looking ahead to university and wondering what the future holds.

I’ll be the first to admit that my university experience maybe didn’t look that similar to most people’s.

Like it or not, there is a stereotype that students spend most of their time at uni doing as little work as possible, and drinking more on a Wednesday (and Thursday, and Friday, and Saturday) than most people do in a month.

But not only did I not drink alcohol at university (no real reason, just was never that bothered – although all my friends drank, and I do drink now) I also went to Cambridge, which meant that the apparently-usual tactic of doing absolutely sod all until deadline day every three months wouldn’t quite have worked…

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5 reasons to listen to Greg Holden

I’m not sure if everyone has already heard of Greg Holden and I’m just super-late to the party, or if he is indeed as underrated as he appeared to me when he popped up on my Spotify playlist, but it matters not, because he is ABSOLUTELY excellent.

His Hold On Tight song – a Mumford-and-Sons-esque, folk-inspired triumph about not taking your life for granted, above – has come through my headphones every morning this week, instantly sending what feels like molten happiness through my commute-weary veins. On Monday, after an emotional weekend and a really early start, it was like auditory nectar. I love it. 

It’s ironic, also, that one of my favourite songs of his is called Go Chase The Sun, during what must be THE wettest and most dismal June in the UK on record. SIGH.

And in case that wasn’t enough, here’s five more reasons why you should definitely check Greg Holden out.

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“Self-care” – 1. Meditation on a train

Yesterday I wrote that although the term “self-care” wasn’t in my childhood or teenage vocabulary, it’s become something I’ve learned is crucial, from listening to wonderful podcasts and reading great blogs on “lifestyle design”, mental health issues, and figuring out how to live and breathe in today’s changing world.

For the next week or so, I’m going to share some of the best things I do to give myself a little space, even when I’m so busy or anxious I barely have time to pause. Today, meditation.

Meditation through the Headspace app

Sometimes it feels like everyone knows about this app – sometimes seen as THE meditation app for your phone, featuring guided meditation packages from former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. There is a free 10-day introductory version, but you can pay annually for the full-on package, with 30-day routines, quick-fire “SOS” guides, and generally everything you need to maintain a daily meditation practice. No sitting in the lotus position going “om” required.

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“Self-care”: 6 ways I chill the hell out

“Self-care” is one of those words I only see on lifestyle blogs and podcasts.

Don’t get me wrong: I live for these blogs and podcasts; I couldn’t give a flying toss whether it makes me a cliché, I bloody love them – reading and listening to awesome women who are carving out a life they love is what gets me up in the morning (well, that, and the need to catch my train).

But “self-care”? There wasn’t a lot of that sort of touchy-feely stuff in my house. Yes, I got a lot of hugs from my dad and tough, determined love from my mum, but my mother ‒ British, northern baby boomer generation woman that she is ‒ would not have the first clue what I meant if I said “self-care”. She’d be like, “What? You mean, doesn’t everyone just bloody carry on and get on with it?”

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