This month we’re about to enter is the most stressful time of the whole year, so there’s a few podcasts out there that aim to help reduce all of the December stress. 

The Calm Christmas Podcast, presented by wellbeing expert Beth Kempton, is full to the brim with tips, inspiration and advice to get you through the season. There are also excerpts from books and tales to get you in the spirit, if you aren’t already (my recommendation: just play George Michael). “With each passing year I am more aware how much I enjoy the simple life and a simple Christmas,” Kempton says. “And I’ve learnt that a calm Christmas is usually a good Christmas, which leads to a happier New Year.”

Get Sleepy, a podcast that features meditation and sleep stories to help you wind down, has released a story where you mentally visit different London sights this Autumn. Meanwhile On Purpose with Jay Shetty has an episode on how to find balance, at a time when work and social times like to pull us around in many different directions. 

Finally… The Gardeners’ World Magazine released an episode on a nice carefree activity: how to make your own wreath, which you can use from things you find in your own garden. Apparently it is simple according to Kevin, the show’s presenter. I am a bit more doubtful than him. 

I mean for one thing, I don’t have a garden.

NOTABLE NAMES ON PODCASTS THIS WEEK

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Here are our podcast picks for the week ahead

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Power: Hugh HefnerPodcasts that explore a powerful, divisive or notorious figure in our culture have been very popular in recent months. Following a biographical series about Ghislaine Maxwell ahead of her upcoming trial, Somethin’ Else’s Power series have launched a new series exploring the life of Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy Magazine.

As journalist Amy Rose Spiegel explains in this new series, Hefner projected an image of sex based on his own fantasies. It also potentially covered up a darker side. “There’s a lot of evidence that Hefner was abusive and controlling to some of the women he was closest with,” says Spiegel. “And so were other famous, powerful men who used the Playboy mansion and clubs to hurt people.”

An interesting and unique focus is telling this story through the lens of the women who worked for him and knew him. There are also bonus episodes featuring extended edits and interviews. The series is meticulous and thoughtful.

Inside Forensic Science An interesting true crime podcast by the University of Dundee. By looking at a century old unsolved murder from 1912, scientists and pathologists at the the University’s Forensic Research Centre (LRCFS) work out whether more modern day forensic techniques could have made a difference to the case at the time. You get an insight into the changes this line of work has made over the past 100 years as well as the methodology they use in order to solve crimes. A decent series for those who are fascinated by this line of work, or or are interested in getting into the industry.

Spotify Podcast of the Week: The Last Days of MaradonaThe news of Diego Maradona’s sudden death in November 2020 was felt throughout the world. Immediately a legal investigation began into the circumstances surrounding his care, as there were huge concerns around the medical attention Diego received in his last days. This six part series hosted by the legendary Thierry Henry, is a deep and honest look into what really happened, with never before heard interviews and first person testimonies with those who were closest to him. In a first for Spotify, the series has also been adapted into six different languages using six different hosts (with Thierry doing the French & English versions), to cater for fans around the world. 

The Last Days of Maradona is a Spotify original podcast produced by Adonde Media. All six episodes are available now on Spotify. ​​ 

Media StormThis podcast comes from the makers of The Guilty Feminist. This new series, presented by journalists Mathilda Mallinson and Helena Wadia, attempts to change the assumptions you may have of different groups of people you always read or hear about in the news, by offering them a right to reply. As a result you get to hear their side of the story and you end up seeing these people more as individuals, rather than a group. You learn a lot too.

The first episode, which came out this week, looks at the media term ‘migrants’ (aka people) and looks at experiences of asylum within the UK. “If you were to believe everything you see, or hear or read in the media, you would get the impression that the UK is completely overwhelmed with asylum seekers,” says Wadia. In fact, the UK has less than half the asylum seekers than what France has, with Germany, Spain and Greece receiving also more than the UK.

In the episode Mallinson heads to Calais to ask the reasons why people are prepared to cross the Channel. “Maybe what we should be asking isn’t ‘why does everyone want to come here’,” says Mallinson. “What we should be asking, and what papers aren’t really asking, is what is preventing them seeking asylum somewhere easier?”

Built to Thrive Daily by Dr. Rangan Chatterjee – Who knows how Dr Rangan Chatterjee has managed to make a new daily podcast on top of his already very popular twice weekly health and wellbeing podcast series Feel Better, Live More? But he has. This series, which is available exclusively on Amazon Music (which you can access on your laptop or through an app on your phone), features bitesize nuggets of health advice divided into different weekly topics, from how to deal with stress better, to improving immunity.

There’s also a series on strength training and why it is important to all of us, not just those who want to get some gains at the gym. “The problem is we often muscle only with power or something that makes us look good on the beach, but muscle also performs other critical functions for our bodies,” Chatterjee says. “More muscle means that you burn more calories, even when you are resting. And our lean muscle mass is a really strong predictor of a long and healthy life. Strength training can also increase our bone density and reduce the chance of osteoporosis.” The podcast contains simple exercises that you can do, even at home, to keep you in shape. 

Finally, we’re going to be doing a special couple of newsletters over the Christmas period featuring festive podcasts or one-off specials, so if you are a podcast (or you know of one doing such a thing) please let us know by filling in this form and it might make the list.

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