12 of the best feel-good podcasts to lift your mood this winter
If you're finding the doom news cycle too overwhelming and the darker nights too much, here are some happy shows to get you back on track.
The nights are drawing in, temperatures are dropping, and we're all starting to huddle under blankets to save money on fuel bills. It's a weird time when we both get stressed by too much Christmas socialising, then feel lonely post-Yuletide, as everyone stays home and nurses their hangovers and depleted bank accounts.
But if you're feeling low at any time throughout December, January and February, help is at hand from some of the world's best podcasts. Yes, you might have to pay a lot of money to watch the best streaming TV these days, but by and large, you can get world-class audio productions for free. So why not fill your boots?
Quality podcasts are a great way to fill an empty room if you're home alone, especially when doing housework and other mundane tasks. And because they don't need to edit everything down to strict broadcast schedules, they can give their interviews and other content full room to breathe for the best insights and the most entertaining chat.
In the article below, we've personally selected 12 podcasts on the theme of happiness that will help put a spring back in your step. If you're feeling low this winter, they're the perfect antidote.
1. Ten Percent Happier Podcast with Dan Harris
Dan Harris is an American news journalist best known for co-anchoring ABC's Nightline and Good Morning America. After having a panic attack on live TV, he tried something he wouldn't have otherwise considered: meditation. Then in 2014, he published a bestselling book on the subject, entitled 10% Happier, and in the wake of its success, Dan launched the Ten Percent Happier podcast.
On this show, Dan talks with meditation teachers, scientists, and the occasional celebrity: everyone from the Dalai Lama to Karamo from Queer Eye. Subjects range from psychedelics to science-based techniques, and Dan's overriding philosophy is that happiness is a skill you can train, just like working your bicep in the gym. It's currently on episode 514, and new episodes come out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
2. Feel Better, Live More with Dr Rangan Chatterjee
Resident doctor on BBC Breakfast, presenter of the hit series Doctor In The House, and author of four best-selling books, including The 4 Pillar Plan, Dr Rangan Chatterjee is one of the most influential GPs in the UK today. His podcast Feel Better, Live More aims to inspire, empower and transform the way we feel, with the ethos that: "When we are healthier, we are happier, because when we feel better, we live more."
Dr Rangan believes that good health has become overcomplicated, and through this podcast, currently on its 306th episode, he aims to simplify it. You'll hear stories from leading health experts and well-known personalities who offer easy health life hacks, share expert advice and debunk common health myths. All this will help you change how you eat, sleep, move and relax for the better.
3. Oprah's Super Soul by Oprah Winfrey
Everyone loves Oprah, and for a good reason. While rival talk show hosts like Jerry Springer were stirring up conflict and controversy, her world-conquering Oprah Winfrey Show, which ran from 1986 to 2011, took the higher path, focusing on literature, self-improvement, mindfulness, and spirituality.
Since 2011, it's been superseded by a self-help talk show called Super Soul Sunday, which broadcasts on Oprah's own TV network, and is designed to guide you through life's big questions. The accompanying weekly podcast, currently on episode 412, brings together its best interviews with thought-leaders, authors, spiritual luminaries, and health and wellness experts in one easy download.
4. Anna Faris Is Unqualified
Actress Anna Faris is best known for playing ditzy characters in comedy films like The House Bunny and The Hot Chick. So you wouldn't necessarily think of her as the host of a show on relationship advice. Rather than fight this stereotype, though, she fully embraces it in her self-deprecatingly titled podcast with its pithy tagline: 'Relationship advice from completely unqualified Hollywood types.'
Currently, on episode 372, the weekly show features interviews with various celebrities, followed by personal phone calls to listeners asking for guidance in relationships and other matters. As a host, Anna is very relatable and down-to-earth, her guests are always interesting, and overall, this is a fun, convivial podcast with a lot of heart.
5. Get Happier with Gretchen Rubin
When it comes to finding happiness, Gretchen Rubin is one of the planet's leading voices. Her books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before have sold in their millions, and her Get Happier podcast has received more than 220 million downloads, so she must be doing something right.
On this top-ranking, award-winning podcast, currently on episode 158, Gretchen discusses happiness and good habits with her sister, Hollywood show-runner Elizabeth Craft. Their relationship is open, honest and easily relatable, and each episode is packed with keen insights into human nature and life advice on finding happiness.
6. Affirmation Pod with Josie Ong
Positive affirmations can be a great way to lift your mood and raise your self-esteem. But if they seem like empty words to you, they're probably not going to help much. In which case, Affirmation Pod could help.
This weekly podcast, currently on episode 447, doesn't just give you self-love affirmations for growth, healing and confidence but also explains the context or story behind them, making it much easier to internalise their message. Presenter Josie Ong has a lovely soothing voice, and each episode is short and concise, averaging around eight to 12 minutes.
7. The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos
Will more money, a better job, or an amazing holiday make you happy? Yale professor Dr Laurie Santos is here to explain why that probably won't happen. Dr Laurie has studied the science of happiness and found that many of us are pursuing goals that will, in fact, lead us in the opposite direction.
Currently, on episode 117, her podcast is based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale, the most popular class in the university's 300-year history. Each instalment takes you through the latest scientific research on happiness and shares some surprising and inspiring stories along the way.
8. The Positivity & Prosperity Podcast by Victoria Maskell
Hosted by Victoria Maskell, a psychotherapist, hypnotherapist and mindset coach, the Positivity & Prosperity Podcast is all about mastering your mindset and achieving your dream goals. It's currently on its 176th episode, and topics covered range from navigating grief to changing your core beliefs around your body, exercise and food. Victoria believes that happiness and success are possible for everyone, but her advice remains grounded and is always centred on what's realistic and achievable.
9. Happy Place with Fearne Cotton
Fearne Cotton was once best known as a Radio 1 DJ and the presenter of Love Island. But all that changed in 2017 when she released her first bestselling book, Happy, which talked about her experiences with mental health. This became the launchpad for a podcast, Happy Place, in which she chats to personalities, thought-leaders and change-makers – ranging from Gary Barlow to Hillary Clinton – about life, love, loss, and everything in between.
Currently on episode 195, the show might feature big stars but feels more like a cosy chat around a kitchen table than a 'proper' interview. Fearne really listens to her guests and never makes it about her. Instead, she allows enough time and space for their full stories to emerge, often with some surprising insights along the way.
10. The Calmer You Podcast with Chloe Brotherbridge
Chloe Brotheridge is an expert hypnotherapist, coach and author of The Anxiety Solution and The Confidence Solution. Her Calmer You Podcast is about helping you to heal anxiety, quiet the inner critic and live a more expansive life of calm and confidence.
Currently on episode 200, topics covered include ways to boost low mood, myths and truths about hypnotherapy, and how to sleep better when you're stressed. As you might expect, Chloe has a calming voice, a lot of empathy for her guests, and is always thorough, never flippant, in her advice.
11. By the Book with Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer
Self-help is a booming industry, but not all self-help books are that great. So here's a brilliant concept for a podcast. Comedian Jolenta Greenberg and culture critic Kristen Meinzer live by the rules of a different self-help book for each episode to figure out which ones might actually be life-changing. Currently on episode 226, it's an inventive mixture of a self-help podcast, reality show and wild social experiment. It's also very funny, and never, ever boring.
12. The Minimalists Podcast with Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
For many people, the secret to happiness is decluttering your life, whether that means unfollowing toxic social media accounts, stopping yourself from saying 'Yes' to everything, or letting go of souvenirs. In their popular podcast, which has now reached 540 episodes, Netflix stars and bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus discuss all these things and more to help people live meaningful lives with less.