Why Podcasts Are the New Self-Help Books for Stressed Americans

From The Wall Street Journal:

Everyone hits that snag when a routine just stops working. After five years of waking early, going to the gym and returning home to meditate, I encountered a disturbance in the force in 2017. Suddenly, just sitting still, breathing—taking a break before I began the day—left me itching. My meditation time went from 20 minutes every morning to 10, then five, then only when I “felt like it.”

My failure to rigorously achieve “wellness” might sound like some negligible, modern-day complaint, but, to me, my lack of focus suggested a larger problem. Stress? Unhappiness? I needed something or somebody to tell me that what I was going through was OK.

I searched for answers, read fiercely chipper blog posts and leafed through self-help books—a category that generates billions of dollars in sales even if the feel-good platitudes that pack these guides are often better fit for the posters on my dentist’s ceiling. I could feel myself fighting an uphill battle each day, carrying a backpack filled with the weight of anxious thoughts.

So I was surprised to find relief on the device I’d promised myself to use less: my iPhone. I had sworn off Facebook andTwitter , and imposed a strict limit on the time I spent checking emails. But one day while scrolling through Spotify, I landed on “10% Happier,” a weekly self-help podcast hosted by author and ABC News anchor Dan Harris.

In the crowded podcast landscape—mostly funny talk shows and true crime to see us through commutes—shows like “10% Happier” offer much-needed encouragement, often for free. I valued the intimacy of having a person speak directly into my ears, walking and talking me through ways to improve my life.

. . . .

For me, listening to that first episode two years ago helped elevate and evolve my practice as I joined what Buddhists call a sangah, which essentially means community. I became a dedicated listener, each week taking away a crucial message: that nothing is perfect, including meditation. I find a regular podcast helps to reaffirm that in a more vital, unignorable way than a book could.

Having increased my happiness by at least a few percentage points thanks to one show, I decided to see if I could truly improve my life, my physical and mental health and my daily outlook by embracing other podcasts geared toward people interested in self-help and wellness.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Sorry if you encounter a paywall)