Iceland's tourist board wants you to submit your screams of frustration to them, but what is scream therapy?

·5-min read
Fancy easing your stress by screaming into the Icelandic countryside. (Getty Images)
Fancy easing your stress by screaming into the Icelandic countryside. (Getty Images)

So far 2020 is shaping up to be the year we’d really rather forget, thanks to a global pandemic which has seen our stress levels spike out of control.

While we can of course turn to mindfulness, meditation and more traditional methods to manage our mental wellbeing, the Icelandic tourist board has come up with an altogether more unconventional way to bust our stress – scream therapy.

To help people all over the world alleviate any stress they might be holding on to due to the coronavirus pandemic Inspired by Iceland (Iceland’s tourist board) are encouraging people to “let it out”.

Yep that’s right, anyone feeling frazzled with lockdown and fears about a second wave are being invited to relieve their stress by screaming into their phones and sending them the recordings, so they can be played on one of the seven remotely-located speakers across the country.

Sure, it may sound completely bonkers, but there’s something strangely soothing about knowing your screams will be broadcast across the Icelandic wilderness.

Read more: How coronavirus measures may be affecting children's mental health – and how parents can help

And we sure do need a little soothing right now.

Global research commissioned by Inspired by Iceland shows that lockdown has caused people a lot of frustration, leaving people across the world feeling bored (45%), more stressed than usual (40%) and reporting negative impact on their mental health (37%).

While missing friends and family has been the main frustrations, others include missing our favourite bars and restaurants (36%), travelling abroad (27%) and exploring new places (17%).

Could scream therapy relieve some of the stress of coronavirus? (Getty Images)
Could scream therapy relieve some of the stress of coronavirus? (Getty Images)

But there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that scream therapy could be just what we need to help reboot our minds right now.

According to Zoë Aston, the therapist and mental health consultant working on the project, scream therapy can actually make a real difference when it comes to reducing our stress levels.

Read more: Why you shouldn't ignore feelings of stress during the coronavirus pandemic

What is scream therapy?

“Scream therapy stems from a therapeutic approach called primal therapy developed in the 1970s as a way to release pent up emotion,” Aston tells Yahoo UK.

“In day-to-day life the feeling of wanting to scream is something we will all experience but nine times out of 10, we have to suppress that very primal reaction.

“What we don’t realise is that the psychological response to wanting to scream lights up a part of your brain called your amygdala; this is the part of the brain that holds trauma, memories and emotion.”

Aston explains that the amygdala activates when we are under threat, something we have all experienced in the past few months, whether it was your job, family, health or wealth somewhere along the line you will have experienced some psychological threat.

“If your amygdala doesn't get a signal that it is safe again, if it doesn’t ‘switch off’, you stay in trauma mode and experience the fight, flight or freeze response which can contribute to mental health declines and long-term stress.”

Part of the effect of scream therapy is to do with making a loud noise into wide open, undisturbed spaces, which we don’t have quite as much access to under current circumstances.

“So the concept of being able to do this virtually is something that might benefit many. It is effective, even virtually.”

Read more: Four simple tips to help reduce anxiety in these uncertain times

The Iceland tourist board are allowing people the opportunity to virtually scream into the Icelandic wilderness. (Getty Images)
The Iceland tourist board are allowing people the opportunity to virtually scream into the Icelandic wilderness. (Getty Images)

So how can virtually screaming into the wilderness help our mental wellbeing?

Aston says that when you scream with the desire to create change, you let go of what holds you back and give yourself the message that change is possible.

“Screaming clears some of the emotional blockages that might have built up during lockdown and lets the charge out,” she explains.

“The charge that is released is the stagnant and repressed emotion that can lead to symptoms of anxiety and depression.”

When we give ourselves permission to release and express feelings we have been avoiding, the mind gets the message that it is in fact safe again, you move out of survival mode and into thrive mode, you free up brain space to be able to make better decisions.

“This contributes to lower stress levels and improved mental wellbeing,” Aston adds.

Read more: What is lockdown brain and what can we do if we find ourselves suffering from it?

Scream therapy could be particularly beneficial to us right now considering our usual ways to release emotion have not always been available.

“The main benefit of scream therapy, in this instance, is that you are highly likely to feel a bit better and a bit more motivated post ‘scream’,” Aston explains.

“Many will be struggling with energy and motivation to get back to something that resembles normal living right now because we are hard wired for growth and recently, life has lacked the inspiration and opportunity that we need to grow over the past few months...this is the basis of the fatigue that some people are struggling with.”

One of the main benefits of scream therapy, therefore, is an activation of adrenaline that helps us all to work with our fears and other difficult emotions rather than ignoring them or letting them control us,

“Screaming, shouting, venting, letting it out are all ways of regaining a bit of power at a time when we have felt so unexpectedly powerless,” she adds.

“Now that we are coming out the other side, it is vital that we have appropriate, responsible and accessible forms of releasing our frustrations effectively.”

To submit your scream, and potentially hear it played out loud, all you need to do is visit the project’s website and click “tap to scream”.

We’re totally going to be giving it a go. Altogether now ‘SCREAM’!

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