Last night, I screamed.
Frustrations surged through my body and exploded from my mouth in some banshee wail. I stood in my living room, fists clenched, body shaking, and screamed until my eyes watered and throat hurt.
Wow, did it feel good.
Have you had a good scream lately? If not, you might want to give it a shout.
I’d forgotten how cathartic it can be to let out some primal yells and how relaxed I feel afterwards. I’m a big fan of meditation, but deep breaths don’t provide the same type of internal release, nor can they always eliminate the need for one.
Sometimes we just need to scream.
Not necessarily at anyone in particular*, but at the world, or circumstances, or life in general. This messed-up planet can provoke some serious rage. At some point, the frustration and anger inside heats up from a simmer to a boil, then demands expression. Most of us repress our anger, or try to, and end up feeling that much more anxious, scared or overwhelmed. Or we channel it in unhealthy ways—addiction, aggression, depression—that ultimately hurt ourselves or those we care about.
We can’t keep repressing our anger.
Why not yell it out every once in a while?
When I lived in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, I would make the quick drive to the ocean, stand on its shore and scream and yell and stomp and flail and do whatever I needed to do to let the frustration out. Yes, I looked crazy. I was crazy—anger has that effect—until I screamed it out of me. The ocean never minded. It lapped it up and dispersed it within its non-judgmental waters.
When I lived in LA, the ocean was near, but there was a monster called traffic in between me and the Pacific. Talk about the need to scream. Try getting from Hollywood to the west side at any time of day. So I ducked into the closet every so often and bellowed into my jeans. They muffled my shouts enough to keep the neighbors from calling the cops.
Now I live in Panama City, in a half-empty high-rise, with no neighbors above, below or on either side of me. A screamer’s paradise. I get to make as much noise as I want. Last night, for the first time in months, I did. And it helped. A good scream shakes up stagnant energy in our bodies. It can provide an emotional reset.
The lure of a good scream is nothing new. There are therapies out there that utilize screaming as a method of helping to heal past pains. I saw a short documentary about a group of elderly Chinese friends—yelling enthusiasts—who spend time screaming each morning as a way to improve their moods and have fun. More and more people are taking to underwater screaming, where the release is still there, but the sounds are completely muted.
The point is to yell it out, when you need to, wherever you can.
We don’t all have the luxury of the ocean to scream into, or no neighbors to hear us. But we all have pillows, which make fantastic mufflers. Or basements, which help disguise our cries. And cars, where we can turn the music up to cover our wails.
When you need to scream, you need to scream.
Few things will satisfy that need, so figure out a way to make it happen. Find some place to go, and then let go. Yell, cry, laugh, be hysterical, go nuts. A scratchy throat is a small price to pay for this kind of release, but try to let it out from your gut to save those vocal chords.
You will likely feel different immediately—lighter, more grounded, less out of control. Like someone who doesn’t need to scream anymore.
* If your simmering scream is related to someone in particular, I recommend first letting it out on your own, to the ocean or pillow or car or whatever, and then say what you need to say to him/her, always with love as your guiding force. In general, people don’t respond quite as well to being screamed at as they do to being loved.
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Editorial Apprentice: Jamie Khoo/Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Thomas Yonash/Pixoto