Podcasts to your brain are like indoor plants in your domain — they’re not a necessity (neither is our rhyme), but they’re beneficial as eff.
Like the latest plant-crazy trend, the popularity of podcasts has risen in the past year. According to data from Edison Research, 41% of Americans say they’re listening to more pods now than a year ago.
But what exactly do we humans get out of listening to podcasts? Is it just for entertainment or are there benefits beyond that?
Here’s what research tells us about how listening to podcasts can benefit your brain.
5 Positive Effects of Listening to Podcasts
Interestingly enough, studies show listening to pods is can stimulate your brain. And in turn, it’s beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
Here are five positive effects of how listening to podcasts can change your brain — and your body — for the better.
#1: Helps reduce stress and anxiety
It turns out soothing sounds can activate your brain to release oxytocin. Also known as the ‘love hormone,’ oxytocin is a chemical in your brain that has a positive effect on your emotions, including relaxation and trust.
According to a recent study by the University of Valencia in Spain, even with brief guided mindfulness meditation, your oxytocin levels can increase, reducing your stress and anxiety. So the next time you come home from a long day and need to power down your mind, turn on a meditation podcast or one with binaural beats, and just relax.
#2: Improves focus and attention span
There’s something exhilarating about a scary situation. The element of fear may be unpleasant for some. But for others, the adrenaline rush of a good scare can be intoxicating. That’s perhaps why so many of us brave haunted houses during Halloween, binge on thrillers on Netflix, or tune into true crime podcasts on Spotify.
Adrenaline is a stress-inducing chemical that’s triggered as a response to a ‘fight or flight’ situation — in this case, the suspense of the story. When your body is flooded with adrenaline, your brain becomes engaged and more alert.
#3: Boosts your mood
Laughter is the best medicine and tuning into a comedic podcast can be just what you need when you’re feeling a little low.
When you hear something funny, the frontal lobe of your brain assesses the joke and determines whether it’s funny or not. If the lobe deems the joke funny, it sends an electrical wave to the cerebral cortex and our body responds accordingly — anything from a giggle to a belly laugh.
And laughter can be super contagious. Think of a comedy show or those 90’s TV shows where they have audience laughter in the background. A 2017 study by the Journal of Neuroscience shows that when you’re laughing with others, your brain releases endorphins. This ‘feel good’ chemical induces your brain like opioids (but without the harmful effects of narcotics), giving you the feeling of euphoria. It also lowers your cortisol levels, which makes it ideal when you’re having ‘one of those days.’
#4: Encourages imagination
When it comes to podcasts, there are no visuals to depend on. Listeners have to get creative. Narrative stories, like pods and audiobooks, allow listeners to use their imagination to create mental pictures of the characters and the storyline.
Research has shown that imagination can be a powerful tool. A study by the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior suggests that when you listen to a story, it enhances your brain’s visual processes. Your brain is more likely to create more imagery than when you read in a traditional format.
#5: Improves your comprehension and vocabulary
With so many screen options nowadays, it’s no wonder that we’re visually overstimulated. According to a 2020 Nielsen report, American consumers were spending around 4.5 hours watching live or time-shifted TV and an average of 3 hours 46 minutes using smartphone apps. Yikes!
Try turning away from the screen and exercise your sense of hearing. Listening to interviews and stories on podcasts can introduce you to new words with their meaning and intonations. It can help improve comprehension and expand vocabulary.
Listen and Grow With Mindvalley Podcasts
Are podcasts good for your brain? Like a beautiful Monstera plant to your wellbeing, there’s evidence that shows pods definitely have a positive influence on your mind, body, and soul.
Mindvalley is a great platform for you to build and live your best life. So, find your next great listen to The Mindvalley Podcast with Vishen Lakhiani, Mindvalley’s CEO and founder, and Superhumans At Work with Jason Marc Campbell.