Whether it’s from stubbing your baby toe on a piece of furniture or pure frustration from your laptop freezing for the umpteenth time, we’ve all felt it—that deep burning desire to open your mouth and let out a long, bellowing scream. Unfortunately, societal norms ask us to swallow our verbal frustrations and maintain composure. You might get some funny looks from strangers if you yell every time something doesn’t go your way. However, there’s something seriously satisfying about shouting at the top of your lungs. Not only is it satisfying, but science has shown that screaming is good for you and your well-being.
1. Shouting Can Relieve Stress
If you’ve ever shouted at someone, you’ll know that vocalizing your internal tension can be a powerful, therapeutic verbal release. That burning desire you have to scream when you’re angry is natural – and stifling that impulse isn’t very healthy. While it might feel great to you, keep in mind that your scream could have negative effects on the people who hear it. Research has shown that the rough sounds of human screams activate fear responses deep in the minds of people who listen to them. If you’ve ever heard screaming coming from the distance for an unknown reason, you’ll know how scary it is.
2. Shouting Can Increase Your Strength
If you hate the sound of bodybuilders grunting loudly at the gym, there may be more to their noise than attracting hot girls’ attention. According to research, a quick yell or grunt before an exercise can increase your strength. Forcefully expelling air in the form of a quick yell or grunt may help stabilize your core and have the same effect on force production and strength. It may be unconventional, but you might want to try grunting like a beast if you’re trying to beat your personal best at the gym.
3. Shouting Is Just Plain Fun
Have you ever screamed as loud as you can underwater? Or shouted from the top of a mountain, banging your chest King Kong style? If you have, you’ll know how bloody fantastic it feels. Besides having a cathartic effect, shouting feels really good. When we shout, our body releases “feel good” chemicals that we all crave. “Yelling might trigger some endorphins, a natural high. They might feel calm, and it might even be a little addictive. It’s really similar to a runner’s high. They’re getting the same effect in a different way.”
Why Sighing Also Soothes
By definition, sighing is twice the volume of a regular breath. Put simply, it’s a long, deep breath. We naturally sigh every few minutes, which is critical for our lungs—and our lives. Sighing ensures that the alveoli, about 500 million tiny air sacs in the lungs, don’t collapse. Alveoli are responsible for oxygenating the blood and exchanging oxygen and carbon dioxide.
How to Add Screaming and Sighing To Your Stress Relief Routine
There are many ways you can sigh and scream your way to less stress. Here’s a range of strategies to try, depending on what resonates with you.
Scream in safe spaces, you might yell:
- In the car
- While music is blaring
- Into a pillow
- In the wilderness
Sigh throughout the day. Since sighing is a lot less disconcerting than screaming to the people around you, you can use it anywhere you like—your office, on the train, in line at the grocery store.
Shake it out. While screaming may help you unearth some serious emotions, you can also have fun with it.
Add other tools. Again, think of screaming as the first step in your stress-reducing routine. What other steps can you take to delve deeper and find more lasting relief? You might journal, talk to a friend, or work with a therapist to identify why you’re so frustrated and what helpful actions you can take, says Howes.
Screaming and sighing won’t cure your stress. But they can help you release pent-up emotions, realize the gravity of what’s going on, and receive some physiological relief. Use screaming and sighing as short-term strategies to reduce stress—and as catalysts to discover and implement more long-term solutions.
So next time you feel the urge to let out a scream, head to the mountains or grab your pillow, and let it out. It’ll do you more good to vocalize that built-up tension than to keep it stifled up inside.