Try Screaming

I drove down to the ELI office today, looking at the red sun and the smoke in the air, and I couldn’t help but think…really? Again? And again?

If 2020 were a movie, I think this is the point where we would expect our hero to give a heartfelt pep talk, and together we would all rally our remaining strength and cross that finish line to victory.

If only this were a movie…

Instead of attempting a pep talk, (sorry, no hero here today) – I read two things recently that I’d like to share.

The first was about how important it is to acknowledge all the crummy stuff we’ve all been living with, to admit that things are stressful, and to allow that it is really hard to not know when (or if) our lives might go back to “normal.” I think this resonated with me particularly because we, the ELI team of helpers, tend to want to reframe things in the most positive way we can. (This is true for most parents as well.) We keep going and keep looking for the good in everything. But eventually, even the most well-resourced and supported individuals feel the fatigue of all of this. It is important to admit it – or our bodies and mind will “admit it” for us. Aches, pains, “silly” accidents, forgetfulness, sudden outbursts, weepiness…all of these can be signs and symptoms that you are holding too much. Chronic stress retracts the neurons in our brain that allow us to think clearly. And we may not even notice until we have a large meltdown.

So…when’s the last time you had a good scream? I’m not talking about when you stub your toe on a corner table. I’m talking about going somewhere private and letting out a big loud scream at the top of your lungs. Screaming can have a cathartic effect. For some, it’s downright therapeutic. When you have a ton of pent up stress brewing in you, letting it out verbally can give you a sense of relief. (I’m not talking about yelling AT someone. Don’t do that.) When you’re feeling stressed, releasing it can make you feel a little freer and take some weight off.

How loud should you scream? How long should you scream for? Do you have to scream out words or just yell? The answer to all of these questions is the same. It doesn’t matter, there are no rules! You’re just trying to let out some stress. Scream as loud as you want, for as long as you want and however, you want. As long as you feel some relief afterward, that’s all that matters. I know the idea of screaming seems silly, but give it a shot. It’s free and could be the perfect solution to relieve your stress!

What if Screaming Doesn’t Relieve Your Stress? Like all stress management techniques, screaming isn’t going to work for everyone. If you just feel weird and awkward after letting out a good scream, but still feel really stressed out, maybe it’s not your thing. Try something else. Running. Dancing. Drumming. Laughing really hard. The point here is to physically release some of your stress out into the atmosphere.

The other thing I read was in the North Bay Leadership Council newsletter. Essentially it reminded me that there is no back to normal. We can’t unknow what we know and we can’t ignore the experiences we’ve all shared especially this past year. So the truth is: “The next normal is currently being born - what that is, depends on our actions.” This was from an article written by Dr. Susan Clayton, who is a professor of psychology and environmental studies at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Dr. Clayton studies the psychological effects of climate change. According to her research, these effects include a heightened sense of helplessness, hopelessness, or fatalism as people reckon with profound changes to their environment or what they see as their lack of control over what's happening. As Clayton explains, some level of anxiety can be a motivating force, spurring action and change - but too much can be debilitating, paralyzing us. "For all of us, we need to find this way of thinking – There is something I can do,” Clayton said. “Maybe you can't save the world, but you can exert some small sense of control over your corner of it, even with something as simple as readying your own evacuation plans.”

So – my bag is currently packed and my evacuation list is typed up and pinned to the front door. And I have AC/DC on my playlist – which is my version of screaming. I do believe there is something I can do, even if I’m not always sure what it is exactly. One of those things is staying connected to all of you – because together maybe we can save the world.

Let us know how you are doing, if you care to share.

Michele Rogers, PhD, Executive Director
Early Learning Institute

(Michele Rogers is an IDA member and active on the IDA Policy Committee)

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