4 posts from February, 2019

Easy listening: Podcasts for relaxation

Posted 9 months ago by

Podcasts are super popular, so let’s chat about what helps you chill out…with your earbuds in. Whose voices and which topics or types of podcasts do you find most de-stressing? Take a look at what folks around the web and here in the PatientsLikeMe forums have to say about podcasts and ideas for “easy listening.”

Ideas from our community and around the internet

“I’ve found quite a few podcasts that give guidance for meditation,” one member says in the forum. “My favorite is ‘Zencast’ — it is a series, that has [nearly] 500 episodes. There are quite a few others. You can find them from most any podcast player library. Use meditation, or mindfulness, as search words. You may find them helpful!”

Other members have also chimed in with their favorite relaxing podcasts (join PatientsLikeMe or log in to see what they say!).

Whether you’re into meditation, music, history or mysteries, there’s seemingly a podcast for everyone. While we haven’t had a chance to listen to all these (so we can’t vouch for all the content or possible advertising), we’ve rounded up some relaxing podcasts that have gotten media attention and noted some trends we spotted.

(Please don’t listen to sleep-inducing podcasts while driving! Also, beware of possible topics or content that may be triggering to you, of course.)

“Storytime” podcasts

LeVar Burton Reads – “Stressed adults yearning for a bit of relaxation in this hectic world now have a peaceful refuge: LeVar Burton’s new storytelling podcast,” SFGate reports. “The soothing voice of PBS’s beloved ‘Reading Rainbow’ recently launched a podcast” where he reads short stories for adults.

The Classic Tales Podcast – This one “features some of the best mostly unknown stories from around the globe, throughout history, all told by the award-winning narrator B.J. Harrison,” Medium says.

Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast – “Nobody is too old to be lulled off to sleep by a bedtime story, and grownups deserve them, too,” one Bustle writer says. “Miette has one of the most soothing [expletive] voices I have ever heard. Is it Scottish? Is it Welsh? Does it matter? I really don’t know but it is absolutely lovely and so relaxing.”

Culture and history podcasts

Soul Music – “Soul Music is a lovely podcast from BBC Radio 4,” the Evening Standard reports. “Each episode explores one song and what it means to different people around the world.”

Longform – The Evening Standard also recommends this podcast, “if you’re interested in writing, and even if you’re not. Each episode is a different interview with a writer, whether that’s a journalist, an author or a podcast host. The episodes focus on the stories they make, how they found them, how they are inspired to write…”

Travel with Rick Steves – “Yes, THAT Rick Steves [PBS star],” writes one Taunton Daily Gazette reporter/podcast fan. “Each week you’ll take a trip around the world and hear about unique local customs from expert guides, authors and travelers.”

Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – “This one is great for long trips, because each one is at least four hours long, if not longer,” the same Gazette reporter says. “If you are a history buff, you are sure to enjoy Carlin’s enthusiasm and attention to detail. He also has a real knack for empathetic retellings of how the people living through these events must have felt.” Some folks on Reddit mention Carlin in this thread about podcasts with relaxing voices.

Old-timey and mystery podcasts

The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio – “This little peach focuses on detective stories from back in the day with host Adam Graham,” Bustle says. “Utilizing the lovely legal loophole that all radio shows pre-February 15, 1972 are fair game in terms of copyright, this podcast will lull you into a deep and rewarding slumber while musing on whodunnit instead of whatever anxiety-inducing thoughts keep you awake.” Classic radio podcasts are rising in popularity and you can find a bunch more online — some complete with that great crackly sound.

Mysteries Abound – “Let me tell you, this man’s voice is more soothing than anything I’ve heard,” the same Bustle writer says. “The podcast looks at weird stuff from the internet, mysteries, lists of interesting facts… the music is very dreamy and chill as well.”

Meditation and sleep podcasts

The Mindful Podcast – “If you’ve never tried mindfulness, it’s a simple form of meditation,” the Evening Standard explains. “It helps you become present in what’s going on so [you] become of where you are and what’s going on without feeling overwhelmed. The Mindful Podcast helps you achieve this state of mindfulness,” and the episodes are short (usually 5-10 minutes). Hundreds of PatientsLikeMe members have reported trying meditation and mindfulness as part of their treatment — click the links to see what they say.

Sleep With Me: The Podcast That Puts You to Sleep – Medium calls this “one of the most renowned and best reviewed sleep podcasts out there. In each episode, the narrator “Dearest Scooter” delivers meandering, stream-of-consciousness monologues in monotone to ramble you to sleep with his boring stories.”

Sleep and Relax ASMR – “Have you ever tried ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response?” the Medium writer asks. “If you have, then you know how good the tingles that start in your scalp and snake down your back feel. You would also know how well that feeling relaxes you and puts you to sleep. If you have not experienced ASMR, and some people can’t, still give this podcast a try as the soft background music and slow whispers can still help you relax and put you to bed.”

ASMR, which is also big on YouTube, could be a type of small (pleasurable) seizure, the neurologist behind the NeuroLogica blog explains — so do some research and check with your doctor first if you have a seizure disorder and questions about ASMR.

What are your go-to podcasts for relaxation? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to swap ideas with the community here!


“Smart” gear for cold hands due to Raynaud’s?

Posted 10 months ago by

Member Julia (mjguimaraes), a product designer in Montreal who’s living with Raynaud’s disease and multiple autoimmune conditions, is creating hand-warmers and other smart gear intended to help patients. She even involved fellow PatientsLikeMe members in shaping her first product. What’s in the works? Check it out!

TotumTech hand-warmer

Helping (cold) hands

Julia is originally from Brazil and began to notice symptoms of Raynaud’s while she lived there (especially in air-conditioned spaces), but her symptoms got much worse when she moved to chilly Canada. Doctors officially diagnosed Julia with Raynaud’s disease three years ago. She’s also living with rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and other conditions.

Raynaud’s is a vascular (blood vessel) disorder that causes ischemic attacks (lack of blood flow), usually in the hands and fingers, feet and toes, ears and nose. This makes them feel cold, numb and/or painful and turns them white or pale.

“Winter is when it becomes really hard to cope with,” Julia says, but she noted that it’s an issue year-round because of air conditioning.

“When you have an attack, it isn’t only your fingers, your entire body feels cold,” she says. “Even with a lot of layers, it’s not enough. When you’re at home, you can find a lot of blankets. When you’re working, it’s hard to find ways of coping. I see that my production slows.”

Julia’s product development work is a side job for now. Her day job is a UX (user experience) designer, so she frequently needs to use her hands. But having cold hands means it’s harder to type because her fingers don’t respond as expected. So she spends a lot of time finding ways to get warm, from standing up and moving around to getting hot coffee.

“It looks like half of my day is about looking for ways to warm myself,” she says.

She needed something smarter — beyond blankets and beverages — to warm her extremities.

smart hand-warmer prototype

From project to product

Julia was a student at Concordia University when — with Raynaud’s in mind — she came up with the idea of a “smart” hand-warmer for a project for her class called Wearables. Her program, Computation Arts, “explores the intersection of design, art and technology.”

“I had so much good feedback [in class],” she says of her hand-warmer project. “Then one day I thought, ‘Wow — why couldn’t I find a way of having these available for people?”

Sensors and smart technology are all around us, so Julia wondered, “Why not make something that helps us [our bodies] as well?”

Julia has teamed up with two partners to launch a small company called TotumTech, with the “Hands-On-Warm” hand-warmer as the first product they’re spearheading (with hopes to expand to other products and health conditions later on).

Her two partners live with and are caregivers to people with invisible illnesses, so they have their own experiences with understanding day-to-day life with health conditions.

“It’s hard because people look at you and don’t think you have a disease: ‘You look well. You look great. Why are you telling me that you’re sick?'” Julia says (echoing other PatientsLikeMe member’s experiences). “It’s hard for people who have these kinds of problems.”

“That’s why our focus is on these people,” she says. “Our value proposition is that we are looking to [help] people with invisible disabilities — to help them cope with their limitations, regain their productivity, have relief, and improve their quality of life.”

PatientsLikeMe member feedback

Julia’s first prototype of the hand-warmer was a proof-of-concept of her invention — a wireless, fingerless glove with built-in hand-warmers — and it worked well for her personally, she says.

Seeking to research other patients’ perspectives (and not promote an existing product — an important distinction per our user agreement), Julia sought permission from PatientsLikeMe to ask members in the forum for feedback on their Raynaud’s disease and her product idea.

“It was great that people were super-interested,” she says, noting that members were very open and some want to get involved in user testing.

By end of winter, Julia is aiming to finish the second (“smart”) prototype of the hand-warmer — which users should be able to control using their smartphone and set up their own comfort levels for different environments. In the spring, TotumTech is hoping to start user testing with the product. Then by summer, the business might launch a Kickstarter campaign.

Julia wearing TotumTech hand-warmer

“Comfortable and confident again”

Talking with fellow patients further fueled Julia’s interest in making in product a reality. Medications are just part of the picture in treating many conditions, so people are seeking different solutions to problems in their daily lives.

“We constrain ourselves from doing things because we are concerned about being cold,” Julia says of people with Raynaud’s. “My hope and my goal would be that this product will help people to regain this confidence and say, ‘OK, I can go to this place — I can go to a cinema and not freeze…and go to the frozen foods section and make my choice of food, without wearing full gloves.”

The current model of the “Hands-On-Warm” device fits under knit fingerless gloves or cuffs. TotumTech is working on designing different models to make them even more discreet.

“So my goal is that we can feel comfortable and confident again that our limitation is under our control, and not the other way around,” she says.

What kinds of inventions or devices could help you live better day-to-day with your condition and symptoms? Join PatientsLikeMe or log in to talk with members about this topic! Connect with Julia on PatientsLikeMe or through her company website.