It is that time of the year once again. Students have their noses deep in their books, trying to cram every inch of information in before their exams. People tend to get stressed around this time and need a little get away.
Could podcasts serve as that small separation from reality? Podcasts have recently skyrocketed in popularity due to the accessibility and the capability to find podcasts dedicated to the interest of niche listeners. Podcast genres range anywhere from pop culture, business oriented and true crime. There is something out there for everybody.
According to Podcast Insights, “51 percent of the US population has listened to a podcast, 49 percent of podcast listening is done at home, and podcast listeners are loyal, affluent and educated.” The fact that 80 percent of podcasts listeners tend to listen to all or most episodes attests to the claim that listeners are loyal, but what about college students? Are they interested in podcasts, and if not, where do they go to for relaxation?
Alexis Charles, junior IMC major, said she listens to three podcasts. “I listen to Joe Rogan’s podcasts. Dr. Phil actually has a podcast I listen to, weirdly enough. And there’s also a podcast called, “What Great Bosses Know,” that actually gives you good tips about just going to business for yourself. Those are pretty much the three I listen to,” said Charles.
Charles added that out of the three, Joe Rogan’s podcasts does help her relax because his guests are people she finds herself identifying with, and she knows of them. “He’s more so the relaxation piece of my podcasts, the rest are more informational,” Charles said.
Reshma Rampersad, Psy.D., from the RU counseling center said that there is limited research that would connect mental health benefits to listening to podcasts. Podcasts have had a relatively recent growth and is now more accessible to students, but there is no significant research to prove that podcasts are necessarily relaxing or helpful.
“I think the type of podcast is important in determining its benefits. For example, a political based podcast may increase stress while one that is geared towards learning about relaxation may not,” said Rampersad.
Rampersad added that relaxation involves not only listening but a conscious effort to manage distress through other techniques. And that every podcast is subjective from person to person. “Some individuals may find a podcast relaxing to listen while another may find the same podcast stressful,” said Rampersad.
“Listening to podcasts can allow an individual to focus on something else and not the stressor, which may allow for relaxation via distraction. However, distraction typically does not allow for lasting stress relief,” said Rampersad. She recommended instead listening guided relaxations or meditation or something comparable in podcast form.
There are podcasts solely dedicated to relaxation and the promotion of mental health, such as the Happier Podcast, the Hilarious World of Depression, Meditation Minis Podcast and The Anxiety Slayer.
Stephanie Gordon-Rivera, a Loyola student and neuroscience major, said she likes to listen to the podcast Hidden Brain. “It helps me relax because my mind is focused on topics that I enjoy, and it distracts me from school. It is like a break for my mind,” said Gordon-Rivera.
Emily Rabinovich, senior English major, admitted she also turns to one specific podcast on a weekly basis. “I only listen to one podcasts. It’s called Welcome to Night Vale and it’s kind of a satirical, dark fiction web story,” said Rabinovich. She added that the podcast is funny and cryptic, and that it does helps her relax because it’s a distraction from moments of anxiety.
Both Gordon-Rivera and Rabinovich stated they tune in to their specific podcasts once a week, which would back up the claims of Podcast Insight. And, all three students came to the same conclusion that podcasts can help alleviate some stress.