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It’s good to talk… but it’s even better to listen

Bridget Francis discusses the impact of podcasts.

When is the last time someone read you a story? I’m guessing it was quite a while ago. Many of us will remember that time with fondness, a time carved out just for you (or sometimes an annoying sibling) and where you could relax, switch off and enter a world of imagination and learning. Then we grew up – took on careers, homes, children, hobbies and ‘life admin’ and we have become increasingly time poor. Today’s 24/7 culture means that we are tempted to try and squeeze as much productivity out of every available hour with the result that we rarely take any time just for us.

There is a solution though and one which, if planned well, can even be combined with some of life’s more mundane tasks to make them seem less, well, mundane.

I am of course talking about podcasts. These are not an entirely new kid on the block, with the first podcasts being available to those tech savvy enough 20+ years ago to have had iTunes. Audiences then were small given the restrictions of sharing files across the airwaves to a large number of people. Technology has moved on apace since then though and podcasts are easily available to anyone in the world with internet access, iTunes, Spotify and Google being the most obvious of homes. By 2017 there were 8.9m regular podcast listeners in the UK with this figure set to rise in 2023 to nearly 20 million.

Further stats show us that we are indeed taking the multitasking benefit seriously with 38 per cent listening whilst commuting or travelling, 25 per cent whilst working or studying, 21 per cent doing household chores and 11 per cent listening whilst exercising (solo sports recommended, not advised on the football pitch).

If you’re labouring under the assumption (as I was until recently) that podcasts are just for news, politics and sport, you couldn’t be more wrong. There is quite literally something for everyone: Crochet? BHooked; Jam making? Homemade Jam is my Jam; interested in roads? (there might be a couple of you) National Highways.

Education, hobbies, meditation, comedy, drama, literature – I challenge you not to find something which interests you just a little or even something you didn’t know you would enjoy listening to – true crime podcasts anyone? If you’ve recently particularly enjoyed a TV series, have a look for a podcast – BBC’s Happy Valley has several ‘spin off’ podcasts which were entertaining, informative or in one case just downright annoying…

If you’re still not convinced, there are some real benefits to our wellbeing in carving out some listening time in your day.

• Multi-tasking – transform some of your life admin into more pleasurable or productive activities. Since becoming a podcast listener my long commute to and from the office is transformed as I no longer have to listen to the far too perky breakfast drivetime DJ’s. I barely notice the journey now (whilst of course concentrating on the road!)

• Learn from the experts for free! Whether it’s gardening, cookery, business, authors or artists, chances are you can tap into hundreds of hours of expertise

• If diversion is more your thing then you’ll find plenty of comedy, drama, travel and more to take you off somewhere else Not only is all of this available on demand whenever you need, and, in the main, free of charge, there are some benefits for your brain too:

• When you watch television, your brain can become passive, allowing you to watch and worry about today’s problems at the same time. When you are actively listening to a podcast, the brain tends to concentrate more, giving you that break and headspace which may be really welcome

• When we consume information, the reward pathway in our brains is activated, releasing dopamine – the perfect natural high

• Meditative podcasts are soothing and help the brain release oxytocin, the hormone often associated with empathy and trust – it can also reduce anxiety and stress

• We all know that laughing is good for you – indulge in some podcast comedy to help reduce cortisol levels and thus feel a little less stressed If you haven’t yet dipped your toes in the world of podcasts, I can highly recommend you to do so. To give you an insight into a couple of my favourites, have a look into true crime, The Diary of a CEO and the The Missing Cryptoqueen.

It’s good to talk, but it’s even better to listen

Article written by

Bridget Francis

Client Services Director, VSM Marketing

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