How Podcasts Have Helped My Hair Pulling

“How do you keep your hair pulling under control?” 


My therapist asked me this question during our first session a couple weeks back. I was in therapy for trichotillomania for the majority of my childhood, but didn’t feel the need to continue when I left New York for college. After the recent loss of some loved ones and a noticeable increase in my hair pulling, I decided I was ready to give therapy another go.


Growing up, my trich was closely linked to my anxiety levels. My therapist worked with me on finding techniques for refocusing my thoughts and energy in moments of worry, so I wouldn’t have opportunities to pull out hair. I would play games and do crafts that would occupy my mind, and most importantly my hands. My methods for trich and anxiety prevention have changed over the years, but I continue to put them first when thinking about self care. 


I have found listening to podcasts to be especially helpful these past few years. 


My anxiety creeps up on me in moments of quiet or when I’m by myself. I first began listening to podcasts when driving or doing housework. They are the noise that keep me out of my head.


Because I listen to a wide variety of podcasts, they serve as prevention for my trich and anxiety in different ways. I have podcasts that I listen to for a calming voice, regardless of the content matter. Others I listen to for the content to refocus my brain away from anxiety triggers. Some are uplifting, and many times comical, to get me away from any negativity. 


It might seem a bit counterintuitive that something involving my ears and not my hands has helped me control my hair pulling. However I’ve found that adjusting your mindset can be one of the most powerful things I can do for my mental health. 


Regardless of whether or not you struggle with trichotillomania or anxiety, your well-being should always be a priority in your daily life. If you haven’t already tried podcasts, give one a listen - you might just make it a part of your self-care routine too. 


My Top Ten Podcasts


The Read

My first podcast (thank you Jessie for introducing me to it!). Friends Kid Fury and Crissle discuss this week’ pop culture stories, celebrate individuals in the black community, answer listener letters, and “read” a person or topic. They’re the two friends you never realized you needed, but now can’t live without. A lot of their listeners write in saying that this podcast has gotten them through hard times and changed their lives, and I couldn’t agree more.

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Revisionist History

I recommend this podcast to EVERYONE! Each episode is like a mini Malcolm Gladwell book; he thoughtfully reexamines events, people, and ideas from the past. I’ve probably listened to every podcast episode at least three times over. There are only two seasons of this podcast out now, so catch up before he releases the third!

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TED Radio Hour

For when I want to “taste test” TED talks. If you like TED talks, but don’t want to listen to an entire talk before deciding if you’re interested in the topic, this podcast is for you!

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Super Soul Conversations

This is the newest addition to my rotation of podcasts. Oprah sits down with today’s leaders and influencers to discuss life’s biggest questions and the deeper meaning of the world around us. Not every episode will speak to you, but the one’s that do open you up to new ways of living and thinking.

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More Perfect

I’ve been a fan of Radiolab for a while, so I was excited when they announced this spinoff about the Supreme Court. The podcast tells the stories behind some of the Supreme Court’s biggest rulings in a way that’s infinitely more interesting than how I remember them explained in high school history class.

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Bodega Boys

For when I miss New York. Desus and Mero now have a late night show on Viceland that came from years of doing this podcast (and they still release a new podcast weekly!). This podcast isn’t for everyone, but for those who understand why two guys from the Bronx would call themselves the “Bodega Boys” - give it a try!

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Flagrant 2:

No Easy Buckets

If I ever sound like a know anything about sports, it’s because of this podcast. Three comedians give their hot takes on sports - and occasionally not sports - for the week. It’s a new podcast, but a good one if you like sports (note: not for baseball fans).

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Planet Money

NPR’s Planet Money explains the economy with stories (think interviews with Kansas citizens after their governor majorly cut taxes). I never thought of myself as someone interested in economics, nor have I ever taken an econ class, but this podcast is really, really good. I haven’t listened to Planet Money in a couple of months, but when I do, it’s all I listen to for weeks.

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60 Minutes

It’s really just the audio version of the TV show 60 Minutes. I didn’t have a TV for a couple years, so this was my weekly news. I know I’m probably the only 24-year-old that would listen/watch 60 Minutes, but I like the investigative journalism.

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The Brilliant Idiots

Media personality Charlamagne Tha God and comedian Andrew Schulz discuss topics of the week in this hilarious and often not-so-PC podcast. Sometimes they have me crying laughing and sometimes I don’t finish an episode because they take it too far. Again, not for everyone, but as they say their style is “often idiotic, sometimes brilliant and always hysterical.”