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  • Writer's pictureFitPros Workplace Wellbeing

Why Listening to Podcasts is a Powerful Tool For Life

Now that summer is heating up, you can cool down after work with your favorite podcast and a well-deserved walk. If you haven’t listened to a podcast before, your iPhone or Android has a plethora of free podcast apps you can download. You can choose from a wide range of genres: news rhetoric, social and historical commentaries, and even self-help and guided meditations.

Growing up, my mom would listen to audio cassette tapes or CDs by motivational speakers like Wayne Dyer and I would become entranced with the therapeutic pull of his words and catch myself using his powerful mantras into my everyday life as well. Nowadays, podcasts are becoming my go to listen when traveling to and from the office, or doing house chores, or taking my end of the work day walks.

As podcasts are growing in popularity and stature, they are widely gaining more traction as an incredible asset for career and life growth. Podcasts are not just used and endorsed by CEOs or athletes, it is meant for every curious person. Employees should use podcasts to help them reduce stress, improve their productivity, and garner a better work/life balance. One notable podcast that you can encourage employees to listen to is "Optimal Living Daily" by Justin Malik, which narrates an anthology of the best personal growth blogs.

Moreover, it is not just what you listen to, it is that you the fact that you are listening that is impacting the way we traditionally learn and retain information. For example, you can enjoy the audio version of books and challenge your brain to extract meaning from what you hear, instead of from what you read or see.

Similar to reading a book, podcasts can be an illuminating kind of storytelling. Podcasts have the power to carry you to different worlds and different mindsets. They can challenge you to visualize the words and instrumentals of the podcast show. Your brain is designed to formulate stories out of images and symbols to make sense of the world around you and podcasts challenge your brain to do the same.

In fact, a Freakonomics podcast episode appropriately titled, "This Is Your Brain on Podcasts," demonstrates how listening to human interest stories lights up several regions of your brain. The study measured the fMRI of participants who listened to autobiographical podcast stories. Researchers recorded "changes in blood flow and blood oxygen at 50,000 or so different locations across the cerebral cortex" as participants listened for hours. The fMRI was able to measure the basic understanding of syntax and semantics. And what was discovered was that the way we comprehend semantics was not entirely represented in the primary auditory cortex, but in other regions of the brain that measure higher functions of meaning.

We see now that the way we understand what we hear goes way beyond the ear, especially the way we pay attention to real-life human stories. We pay attention to the things that should concern us the most, and these are the incredible lives of others. We should tap into this realm more often and find solace and solidarity in the incredibly varied lives of people. I believe that anything that sparks new synapses and neural pathways in the brain is fundamental to sustaining a healthy cognition.

Knowledge is indeed power and the way podcasts fashion narratives into a tidy bow of information is what keeps us listening. But how do we suss out the noise of competing information on a technological platform so rift with sensationalism? I trust podcasts that have points of view that are science-backed and socially conscious and aware of other opinions and ideas. We don't have to believe what someone has to say, but we can believe it should be important if the speaker is passionate, demonstrates sound and researched arguments, and if the idea speaks to you as a listener.

A last takeaway for your workplace is to encourage employees to record their own voice. For instance, if an employee is tasked with conducting an office meeting or to memorize key points for a project, they can record themselves and play it back. Listening to your own voice can teach you a lot about how you appear to your work colleagues. Once they get over the hump of listening to their own voices, employees can definitely improve their assertiveness. Moreover, employees can gain a better understanding of their role in the company and practice ways to seek more opportunities, like listening to themselves pitch a new idea to an employer.

It's time that the workplace encourages employees to utilize their resources to the fullest. And the more knowledge employees seek to acquire, the more diverse a company can become in its ideas and goals. Employees can maintain a healthy work/life balance by staying informed, relevant, and knowledgeable about people, the world, and their own wellness.

A few podcasts I enjoy are "Freakonomics," "Revisionist History" and "Philosophy Bites." These podcasts challenge me to question the things I already know and learn alternative ways to see and approach them.

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