Coronavirus has created a surreal world. It is safe to say that the impact of a relentless, stress-inducing news cycle is something that we are all dealing with.
If you are feeling anxious, overworked or experiencing symptoms of burnout, podcasts are a surprisingly helpful resource from which to learn self-care coping strategies.
These shows revolve around honest conversations about mental health. Others aim to help listeners create a sustainable work-life balance and teach the value of mindfulness and meditation.
Dr Tom MacLaren, Consultant Psychiatrist believes ‘Meeting a therapist might be a daunting experience, especially if you haven’t done this before. You might be concerned about what to expect, things the therapist might say, and what it’s like to open up details of your life to someone you don’t know.
The first thing to say is that therapy is more available now than ever. Thanks to “Improving Access to Psychological Therapies” (IAPT), which is an NHS-funded scheme, most people now have access to therapists in their local area.
For some people, the idea of meeting a therapist is too much. They might not be ready to take that step yet. If this sounds familiar to you, don’t despair as there is still a huge range of supports for your mental health and wellbeing; many of which are free!
One of these options, that people are increasingly turning to, are therapeutic podcasts.
A brief search of the Internet will show up a huge range of options, with a lot of useful educational content. Podcasts cover pretty much the whole range of mental health, from common problems like depression and anxiety, to more complex topics like chronic illnesses and trauma.
Listening to a podcast can be a much quicker, easier and less nerve-wracking experience for many people who might otherwise worry about meeting a stranger and having to explain things to them. You have the option to hit pause at any time and go at your own pace. Interesting topics might help you learn more about your own mental health, give you wellbeing tips and could even provide some insights about further support, if you need it.
Therapeutic podcasts are often produced as regular bite-sized episodes. This makes them easy listening and often less stressful than throwing yourself in the deep in with a 50-minute session in a consulting room.
Many are produced by people with lived experience of the illnesses they describe, such as ADHD reWired, hosted by Eric Tivers, who is a psychotherapist specialising in ADHD and has ADHD himself (check out 11 Therapy Podcasts That Offer Professional-Level Self-Care From The Comfort Of Your Own Home (bustle.com)). These podcasts can give you food for thought, new perspectives on your symptoms and the motivation to do something differently.
These aren’t a replacement for therapy, as you don’t have professional advice to tailor care to your needs. However, they could be a very useful stepping stone in this path.’
Phil Askew and Jamie Robins are certified personal life coaches. They co-host Safe Harbour podcast. Phil explains ‘When the pandemic first hit and we went into the first lock-down, Jamie (my co-host) and I noticed how this unprecedented time was starting to have an intrusive and overwhelming impact on our thoughts and feelings.
We decided at that time to set up a structure of ‘checking-in’ via WhatsApp each morning. We’d record and send a voice memo to each other, sharing precisely what we were feeling and noticing in that moment, no filter, no fluff.
We are both professional practising life coaches and were noticing very obviously how our clients were also bringing fear, confusion and overwhelm to their sessions too; in fact, it was all that they were showing up with.
That was when we decided to take our personal check-ins and open conversation style public.
We created our podcast Safe Harbour, hoping that anyone who listens in would recognise that it was perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed, lost and confused with what was going on – not just now in this pandemic time actually, but at any stage of life.
The format of our show is one of unscripted conversations between myself and Jamie. We choose a pertinent subject – for example, ‘Why don’t men talk?’ and we dive in, not knowing the direction or where we’ll end up. We bring our own life experiences and reflect on what our clients might have brought to their sessions (anonymously) in the past. We ask curious questions and discover insights along the way, and it’s very organic.
We want our listeners to feel welcomed in, supported, held. We want them to sense that it’s ok to talk about feelings, particularly the make listeners. We want to model how we are when we feel sad, emotional or challenged and to know that it’s not weakness or lack of resolve. It’s incredibly human.
Along with our 1-1 conversations around a theme, some of our shows are instructional, too; we bring our skills as certified life coaches and empower the listeners with tools and techniques. For example, we’ve spoken about how to ask powerful questions, listen well, what to do when you feel overwhelmed, and set up supportive psychological check-in structures with a friend.
People have told us they love the accessible, authentic and fun energy we bring to Safe Harbour; it was described by one listener as ‘Listening to you guys feels like I am there with you, coffee in hand sitting around the campfire, not judged, seen, included.’
Phil Askew, Certified Personal Life Coach:
Jamie Robins, Certified Personal Life Coach:
Safe Harbour Podcast:
For consultations with Dr MacLaren (in Clinic or by video conference), please visit: