Uplifting podcasts for the Christmas season

Podcasts to lift the spirit this Christmas, on world affairs, comedy, mindfulness, consumerism, and the power of music

This year has not been easy for any of us, and as it nears its end, we’re gearing up for a Christmas season like never before. How we relax and blow off steam will have to change. Like many others, I’ve found solace in my favourite podcasts to feel connected to the outside world when being inside is all we’ve known over the past couple of months. Be it escapism or piqued curiosity, there is the perfect show out there for you. Stick on a podcast, crack open your favourite bottle of Tesco wine, and finally tackle the pile of clothes that’s grown so tall you’d almost match with it on Tinder. Here are my top five podcast recommendations guaranteed to bring some much-needed light and uplift into your life this festive season.

Basically

The conveyor belt of coronavirus-related news lost its appeal by the end of March. I was torn between wanting to know every miniscule detail and doing my utmost to maintain normality. It is all too easy to submerge yourself in a devastating number of updates and, as a result, to end up more confused than when you began. No one needs or deserves to be overwhelmed by the latest announcement of Level 3.587 of governmental restrictions. It can be difficult to sift through the mountain of news updates to find out what is actually relevant. What we need is someone who can make sense of what is happening for us. 

Our solution comes in the form of Basically with Stefanie Priessner. According to her, Basically aims to simplify and “make sense” of the plethora of stories we are inundated with daily. First debuted during the panic of the initial outbreak, this podcast succeeds in offering a sensical breakdown of those overwhelming and unavoidable news stories. Priessner removes the ominosity and mystery so we don’t have to. As much as we are tired of hearing about this pandemic that has enveloped our lives, in truth, none of us can escape reality no matter how hard we might try. Basically has helped me to stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the world. Preissner’s informative and honest discussions are at a pace both comfortable and engaging. Feeling in control of the outside world today is even more paramount, and the first step is understanding what is happening. 

Laughs of Your Life

If you’re in the market for a good old-fashioned belly laugh, look no further than Laughs Of Your Life with Doireann Garrihy. When this podcast was initially recommended to me, it was followed by the words “wholesome” and “addictive”. It certainly did not disappoint. 

Garrihy hosts a number of charismatic guests who endeavour to discover the redeeming power of laughter and sincere conversation. Before you know it, you’re rolling on the floor laughing alongside their hilarious anecdotes. With the seemingly endless gloomy evenings December has to offer, what better way to relax and genuinely laugh out loud. Laughter really is the best medicine. Thank you to Doireann Garrihy for giving us the gift of laughter this Christmas.

Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness and self-reflection is incredibly important, but it is even more important at this time of year. We look after our bodies with exercise and eating healthily but, more often than not, neglect our mental wellbeing. Prioritising the health of our minds does wonders for our productivity. Mindfulness offers us a mechanism to reflect on our thoughts and emotions, reduces stress and increases focus. Christmas is a time for recuperation and reflection and finding the right mindfulness podcast for you will help you start 2021 in the right headspace. 

It’s hard to pick only one to take as gospel for this. Test a few out and see what works for you; the world is your oyster when it comes to mindfulness podcasts. If you’re new to mindfulness and mediation, I recommend The Mindful Minute with yogi Meryl Arnett. In this podcast, she introduces techniques that have helped alleviate her anxiety and reclaim her emotions. From there, you can delve into the mindfulness worlds of animal sounds, breathing exercises, or even throw a bit of Enya into the mix.

The Minimalists 

Joshua Fields Milburn and Ryan Nicodemus host The Minimalists, a podcast where they help us to declutter our minds by first decluttering our lives of pointless possessions. In a materialistic world, The Minimalists rediscovers the appreciation for what we have and not what we feel like we need. Life is about so much more than things. Their journeys are inspiring and leave you yearning for the next spring clean. 

In a world obsessed with materialism and showing off, The Minimalists podcast leaves us grateful for what we have. This Christmas will be different: less time with family, less time for shopping, and more time to dwell on the pitfalls that the year has thrown at us. This podcast is the perfect way to uncover the hidden happiness in our lives and find out what really does spark joy in us.

James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds

In James Acaster’s podcast, James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds, he invites us to revel in all the amazing music released in 2016 and the impact it had on the music industry and our lives. This year became known as the year Britain voted to leave the European Union and Donald Trump was elected President of the United States, but it is so much more than that. On Perfect Sounds, both Acaster and his lively guests debate whether 2016 was in fact “the best year ever for music.”

They revisit and uncover the significance of music across a variety of genres. From Beyonce’s provocative Lemonade to Irish singer-songwriter Katie Kim’s alternative solo project album Salt, this podcast leaves no stone of 2016’s music left unturned. Acaster has openly discussed how music saved his life and actively continues to do so. This podcast invites us to rediscover the healing and regenerative powers of music and the extent to which it can bring meaning to our lives. Episodes are short and so a perfect addition to any bus journey or a stroll to the supermarket. 

We are all guilty of living in the past when our present is not idyllic, but this podcast gives us permission to revel in the incredible music even a year like 2016 had to offer. Whether you’re a comedy fan already or indifferent to the genre, there is no doubt that James Acaster’s music podcast will leave you with a genuine smile on your face and an even deeper appreciation for the uplifting power of music. What more could you ask for on dark winter evenings?