I love a good podcast.
I spend a lot of my time on trains and podcasts are an excellent way to pass the time, turn a bog-standard journey into something more entertaining, and maybe learn something.
But they’re also good when I’m feeling down, or having a bad day. Sure, my worries and mental health conditions aren’t going to vanish just because I found something good to listen to. But podcasts are a free, easily accessible mood-booster, and sometimes you just need a reminder that there’s life outside of whatever you’re stressing about.
There are a lot of amazing podcasts out there, but the following are my four go-tos when I’m feeling overwhelmed.
My Dad Wrote a Porno
Jamie Morton’s dad wrote a series of supposedly pornographic novels. And now Jamie is reading them to the world, chapter by chapter, supported by his bewildered-yet-hilarious friends Alice Levine and James Cooper. The Belinda Blinked stories are silly, filthy, and not a bit sexy. I can’t listen to the podcast in public because I snort and cry with laughter at least once an episode.
And yet, My Dad Wrote a Porno is oddly heartwarming, because Rocky Flintstone is clearly enjoying writing these books. It feels like a real community has arisen because we’re all so invested, especially in light of Season 3 and 4’s shocking cliffhangers. Never did I think I’d care about a pots and pans saleswoman—yes, really—who’s shagging her way to the top and is embroiled in a spy mystery at the same time (I told you it was bonkers), but here we are. The world of quality, affordable cookware is intense, pals. And I’m here for it.
Best for: Days when you need distractions and just want to laugh at something ridiculous.
Hands up who’s addicted to RuPaul’s Drag Race?
Willam (Season 4, Drag U) and Alaska (Season 5, All Stars 2) are feeding that need for all things Drag Race with their recap podcast, Race Chaser. They’ve done Seasons 1-3 so far and are currently recapping Drag Race UK.
Nothing gets overlooked, whether it’s a fabulous make-up job or a wonky wig, and their history on the show means they have plenty of behind-the-scenes knowledge of how reality TV really works. They also have some excellent guests from seasons past, including Tatianna, Raja, and Shangela (Halleloo!)
I thought I couldn’t love these two any more after Alaska’s hilarious perfume advert and Willam’s glacial poise (“Your tone seems very pointed right now” is iconic and I won’t hear otherwise), but Race Chaser has proved me wrong.
Best for: When you’ve had enough of bingeing on Netflix, but still need something to entertain or distract you. I recently cleaned out my kitchen cupboard while listening to their Hot Goss episode with Shangela, and it made a boring job fly by.
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
By now, you’re probably aware of the troubling choice J.K. Rowling made to support of Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts. I was incredibly disappointed with that decision, because she was someone I’d admired since I was a child. But I refuse to let her actions take away how important the Harry Potter books were to me when I was growing up, and still are now.
Luckily, Vanessa Zoltan and Casper Ter Kuile offer a gentler way to think about the magical world. In Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, they look at each chapter of Harry Potter through a theme, such as betrayal, supremacy, sanctuary, and—at the end of every book—love. I reread the series every other year and get something different out of it each time, but this podcast takes a deep dive that Potterheads will find fascinating. It’s helping me see the stories and the characters in a whole new light.
Best for: When you need to hear a thoughtful, considered way of looking at life, but still want to listen to something with a sense of humour.
I thought Fearne Cotton was the coolest when she was a presenter on Diggit. So fashionable! So grown-up! Fast-forward to 2019 and I still think she’s cool, but for different reasons: she’s doing her bit to make talking about mental health a normal thing.
In Happy Place, she has a conversation with a guest (usually a celebrity, but not always) about life and happiness. Talk often turns to mental health—past experiences, coping mechanisms etc—but there’s plenty of joy, too. Ultimately, it’s a reminder of how strong we can be even in the most difficult of circumstances, and how deep down everyone is struggling with similar kinds of issues. I loved the episodes with Dawn French and Lena Headey.
Best for: When you need reassurance that you’re not alone.
What podcasts would you recommend? Let me know in the comments.
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Beth, 26, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travelling, and gin.
I write about ethical & eco-friendly living, minimalism, and mental health, as I muddle through one step at a time. Enjoy!