Feeling anxious? Here are 11 of the most comforting podcasts you can listen to right now

These shows promise to soothe your soul and offer some heartening escapism

Give one of these podcasts a listen to if you're in need of some heartening escapism
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There’s more to staying at home than watching Netflix. One great way to keep yourself entertained is to tune into podcasts.

Yet, as the world faces the coronavirus crisis, many people's anxiety levels are at an all-time high. Well, these 11 series promise to take the edge off your worries with tips on how to keep calm, inspiring stories or just some good old-fashioned humour.

Love Stories with Dolly Alderton

Throughout this series of 16 episodes, hear British author and journalist Dolly Alderton interview various celebrity guests about their most defining relationships. They talk about heartbreak, passion and fondness, all themes that tie in with Alderton's debut book, Everything I know About Love. Guests include English singer Lily Allen, American actor Stanley Tucci, Irish novelist Marian Keyes and comedian and former doctor Adam Kay. What's so wonderful about it is it reminds you that no matter how successful you get, love gets to us all.

Alderton's other podcast, The High Low, is a weekly pop culture and news show she presents with friend and fellow journalist Pandora Sykes, is also worth a listen. The new series airs soon.

Happy Place

British TV presenter Fearne Cotton might be known in the UK for her appearances on shows such as Top of the Pops and Celebrity Juice, but she's also a champion of mental health issues and has even written books on the topics of finding peace and happiness. Her podcast series Happy Place is an extension of that.

It's been running since 2018 and sees her interview people from all walks of life about love, loss and everything in between, as they reveal what happiness really means to them. Her latest guest was quick-witted comedian and writer Russell Brand (whose own podcast, Under the Skin, is good, too), who talks about how he's handling the lockdown in the UK.

Staying In with Emily and Kumail

The hosts of this show, American writer Emily V Gordon and American-Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani, are no strangers to quarantining themselves. Gordon was a therapist, but is currently chronically ill (as chronicled in 2017 film The Big Sick) and Nanjiani, her husband, is her main caretaker. Now they're both writers who work from home and they have some great tips on how to stay calm and avoid cabin fever. The total net revenue from the podcast is being split between three charities, all of which support individuals and families affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Kumail Nanjiani as "Kumail" and Zoe Kazan as "Emily" in THE BIG SICK. Photo by Sarah Shatz.
Kumail Nanjiani as Kumail and Zoe Kazan as Emily in 'The Big Sick'. Photo by Sarah Shatz

Ten Percent Happier with Dan Harris

Host Dan Harris is an ABC newsman who once had a panic attack live on Good Morning America. This incident led him to explore something he had once thought ridiculous: meditation. In this weekly podcast he talks to people about whether there's anything more than just 10 per cent. In his latest episode he speaks to Joseph Goldstein, co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, about meditating during a pandemic. His most recent episodes have been tackling the topic of the outbreak head on, addressing issues such as working from home and parenting at a time of crisis. You can find meditations on the related app, too.

Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee

Dr Rangan Chatterjee is one of the most recognised GPs in the UK. He was the star of BBC1's Doctor in the House and author of the best-selling book The 4 Pillar Plan. Now he's bringing us this podcast series, which is full of healthy life hacks, expert advice and myth debunking from leading experts and well-known stars. He's on a mission to help us eat, sleep, move and relax better. His motto is: "Health has become overcomplicated. I aim to simplify it." And there's no better time than now for that kind of helpful, reliable advice.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

If we're going to take advice about happiness from anyone, it might as well be the woman who wrote the number one best-selling book The Happiness Project. Gretchen Rubin is an American author, blogger and speaker and in this podcast she offers easy, practical advice on how to instil good habits and achieve happiness.

Her younger sister, TV writer and producer Elizabeth Craft, co-hosts. The family dynamic makes for a lively and entertaining listen that’s full of wisdom. While much of her advice was aimed at an audience pre-Covid-19, she has released a bonus episode that specifically addresses the crisis.

Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Millions of people will agree: Oprah Winfrey might be one of the most inspiring and soothing personalities of our time, making this podcast one of our top picks. It’s her personal selection of interviews with thought leaders, authors, wellness experts and spiritual luminaries, all of which guide us through life’s biggest questions.

Her latest instalment is an interview with Alicia Keys, who talks about her new book and how her own family is handling the coronavirus lockdown.

If you're looking for more uplifting Winfrey content, try Oprah and Eckhart Tolle: A New Earth, as the presenter and spiritual teacher talk through Tolle's powerful book on mindfulness, something we could all stand to understand a little better in times like these.

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

Forget celebrating people’s successes (which, let’s face it, can sometimes make us feel like a letdown), English novelist and journalist Elizabeth Day is here to shine a light on the times things haven’t gone our way. She speaks to some of the world’s most accomplished people about their failures and what this taught them about how to do better.

Day has just done two special episodes addressing Covid-19, one with entrepreneur Mo Gawdat about how to cope with anxiety, and another with philosopher Alain de Botton about embracing vulnerability.

How Did This Get Made?

For a little light-hearted relief that's as far from coronavirus-related as possible, a trio of hosts discuss some of the world's worst films, and how – and why – they got made. They watch the so-bad-they're-actually-good movies with some of their funniest friends and then report back with the results. Recent watches include 2016 action films The Great Wall and Underworld: Blood Wars. Episodes typically feature guests, plenty of mockery and a deconstruction of the scenes. It's all very low-brow, but very entertaining.

Pretty Big Deal with Ashley Graham

She’s a supermodel, a style icon and body activist, but also a pretty prolific podcaster. In this weekly series, American plus-size model and TV presenter Ashley Graham sits down with some of her most inspiring friends to talk in an honest way about what makes them a “pretty big deal”. Recent episodes include candid chats with motivational speaker Jay Shetty and Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad. It's a refreshing listen.

Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People

Comedian Chris Gethard opens his phone line every week to one anonymous caller for one hour. No matter what happens, Gethard cannot hang up first. Shocking confessions, the airing of well-kept family secrets and deep philosophical conversations ensue. It’s always different, it might get serious, but it’s also uplifting in a unique sort of way. Recent episodes feature people from around the world talking about their experiences during lockdown, but there are a total of 209 instalments, so you can peruse the back catalogue if you’re looking for virus-free content.