One of the hardest things about this very difficult moment is that there are NO ESCAPES. And since I can’t go anywhere or see anyone beyond my immediate family, I’ve been finding myself plugging into podcasts at any and all possible moments — while cooking, exercising, or taking one of my daily walks around the neighborhood. They allow my mind to wander away from my own anxieties, which are, right now, many.
So. These podcast recommendations are divided into two categories — ones that discuss COVID in some way/shape/form and ones that have nothing to do with COVID. Look, maybe you don’t want to hear anything about the Coronavirus when you finally have a chance to block out your entire family and listen to a podcast? I get it. But! I will say that these recs are smart, often (sort of) funny, and extremely helpful. Sometimes they are even downright calming! Trust me.
This used to be a podcast about meditation — and mostly still is. But now host Dan Harris talks to some of the biggest names in Buddhism and psychology about how to use meditation (and other tools) to survive this global pandemic with our minds intact. Every episode is both useful and calming.
Slavitt, a former health expert in the Obama administration, has the knowledgeable vibes that could calm almost anyone down. He talks to senators and governors about what the government is doing, how we can help, and breaks down how we got into this mess in the first place.
This can hardly be called Covid-adjacent because really it’s just about cooking — but it was born out of the fact that we are now all stuck at home and some of us have no idea what we’re doing in the kitchen. Nosrat (of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat fame) and Hirway answer your pressing questions about…anything in the kitchen. Can you substitute sour cream for buttermilk, whole wheat flour for All-Purpose? It is pure delight.
How is the pandemic impacting grocery store workers, food supply chains, and religious rituals? Will our food supply run out? How safe is life for Trader Joe employees? How do we mourn in the absence of funerals? Journalist Alex Wagner answers these and other questions. She talks to people about all the issues that are not medically-related (phew).
Sugar — the best advice-giver on God’s green earth — is back! After years as Dear Sugar on The Rumpus, and then on an uber popular podcast called “Dear Sugar,” writer Cheryl Strayed is back with her special brand of advice that is way more than advice. Each week, Strayed talks to a writer over 60 about how to put this moment into perspective. So far guests have included George Saunders, Margaret Atwood and Pico Ayer. Pure comfort.
Try: “Everything is Always Changing” with George Saunders
Unrelated to COVID…
Want to escape into someone else’s family drama? This is the perfect podcast. Each week writer Dani Shapiro talks to a new guest who has discovered a family secret that has rocked their world and thrown their identity into question — a father who isn’t a biological one; a gay uncle no one knew about; money laundered.
Try: “Don’t Duck”
Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
It’s Brené! She’s making this podcast out of her…basement? But she is as raw, vulnerable and instructive as ever. Every other episode features a guest talking about — you guessed it: vulnerability, shame, love, suffering, hope, fear. Yes, sure, no one wants to talk about shame, especially these days, unless it’s with Brené (you know she’s a renown shame researcher?!) and we are here for it. Also: it’s a total joy to hear her huge laugh.
Has there ever a better time to learn more about Fred Rogers? He is the embodiment of all we need right now: kindness, calm, reassurance from a man who radiated love. This podcast dives deep into who the man really was, why he made such an impact, and what we can learn from him today.
Try: “Feed the Fish”
Gee Thanks, Just Bought it with Caroline Moss
Pure escapism through retail therapy! Every item a guest recommends is under $20. I got a kitchen appliance through this show that has changed my cooking and baking life — the Matfer Bench Scraper (a little plastic thing that can cut and scrape dough and fits right in your back pocket), which was recommended by cook extraordinaire, Alison Roman.
Try: “Ep 1: Alison Roman”