A man stands in front of the Skogafoss waterfall in Skogar, Iceland, March 8, 2020.

Need to release stress? Scream into Iceland’s abyss. 

A new stress-relieving campaign, rooted in primal therapy, asks people across the globe to record their screams and submit them online to be played in wide-open spaces in Iceland.

The World

Life under lockdown is stressful. A recent poll shows that nearly half of US adults say their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus.

People around the world are having to find new ways to cope with pent-up pandemic stress, and some mental health experts are turning to primal therapy.

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“Primal therapy was a type of therapy that was used a lot in the 1970s,” said Zoë Aston, a therapist and mental health consultant based in London.

“Rather than sitting and talking, they took people out into wide-open spaces, and they encouraged people to kind of let go of some of those really pent-up emotions,” said Aston.

Similarly, Aston says life amid the coronavirus has left many people with a backlog of feelings that need to get out. So, she recently partnered with Promote Iceland on a new campaign called “It Looks Like You Need to Let It Out.” The campaign, rooted in the aforementioned primal therapy, asks people across the globe to scream into their computers and submit the recordings via an easy-to-use website (trigger warning: the site screams when you click on the link).

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People's recorded screams are then pumped out into one of seven, wide-open Icelandic landscapes via small, yellow speakers. 

“We have basic words to describe some of the feelings that we have,” she said. “But we have a lot more complicated emotional experiences than we have articulation for.”

Nearly 20,000 people have so far sent in their stressed-out shrieks, which can be heard on the website. But no two screams are alike. Some screams are friendly. Ieva, from London, shouted, “Hello, people!” and sent it to the site. Others, like one person from Brooklyn, New York, have used the opportunity to share the specific things they miss amid lockdown.

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“I miss hugging my friends!” one person shouted into the Icelandic void.

Aston says these efforts aren’t going to waste.

“This is an opportunity to release emotional blockages,” she said. “At the end of the day, feelings and emotions [are] just energies in our body.”

Releasing these tensions doesn’t have to mean letting out a scream. You can go for a run, complain, sing, dance — anything, Aston says, to physically express what’s going on inside. But if you do choose the Icelandic route, Aston has tips on how to get the most out of your scream.

“Put your hand on your belly if that helps. Because that’s where your scream will come from — it doesn’t come from your throat or your chest,” she said. “It helps if you sort of bend your knees a little bit. Give yourself a really sturdy grounding.”

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Aston also suggests wearing headphones if you feel self-conscious about screaming into the void.

“People can be a little bit apprehensive,” she said. “But then they do it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, this is quite fun.’ And they immediately feel relieved.”

Let out your own scream at https://lookslikeyouneediceland.com.

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