Shelter-in-place orders. Mask-wearing edicts. Quarantine guidelines. Social-distancing rules. Flatten-the-curve requirements. Temperature-taking regulations. Public-health travel restrictions. In-person, back-to-school mandates.
In fact, no matter where you are in the world right now, Inspired by Iceland, the nation’s official tourism site, is conducting a campaign titled “Looks Like You Need to Let It Out” that encourages travel-stifled people around the world to express their frustrations. In turn, the country will send your aggravations, exasperations, hassles, headaches and botherations out into the wilds, to be released—hopefully, along with your grief.
Iceland is known for tongue-in-cheek, not-quite-sure-it’s-serious initiatives. After all, this is the nation where more than half of the people report that they believe in elves—whether they truly do or whether it’s part of a culture that wants to be as welcoming as it can to tourism has yet to be sussed out. In any case, sending your primal scream into the Land of Fire and Ice could be cathartic.
Popularized in the 1970s by California psychotherapist Dr. Arthur Janov—variously called a messiah and a mountebank, according to The New York Times—scream therapy is part of a controversial treatment called primal therapy.
Primal therapy is based on the idea that the psychological response to wanting to scream lights up the amygdala, the part of your brain that activates when you feel that you are under threat—something we probably have all experienced in the past few months. Primal scream therapy is used when we don’t necessarily have the words to express our irritations and things seem to be a bit more visceral.
Now, because we supposedly aren’t equipped to deal with all the feelings that we’re presently having and because we aren’t moving around as much, there’s a physical buildup of emotion, which can produce anxiety, blockages and depression. Therefore, Inspired by Iceland is betting that screaming into an undisturbed space will allow your amygdala to release the stress stored there so that the part of your mind that has been in survival mode for the last several months is freed up, allowing you to make good decisions for moving forward.
Today, primal therapy is mostly a discredited theory. Psychologists cite, among other issues, the unverifiability of its central claim of the existence of primal pain and the lack of independent, controlled studies demonstrating the therapy’s effectiveness.
But, hey, if you think that a good scream will help you, I say, it can’t hurt.
Those at Inspired by Iceland say that they feel lucky to have such beautiful, vast open spaces that provide the perfect places for the release of frustrations. Until July 29, 2020, you can visit their website to record your own exhortations, screams and yells. Then choose to send them to one of seven landscapes—the picturesque fjord of Djupivogur in East Iceland; the black-sand beaches by Festarfjall, a mountain on Iceland’s southwestern coast; the basalt rocks near the lighthouse at Kalfshamarsvik; the red sands of Raudasandur Beach in the Westfjords; the stupendous waterfall of Skogafoss; the pure, glacial ice of Snaefellsjokull in West Iceland; or the island of Videy, near Reykjavik—as a backdrop. Your vocalizations will be played on remote speakers dropped in the real-life locations. You can hear your sounds of joy or rage on the website’s livestreams.
To get the most out of your scream, it’s advised that you mentally step back to the time when you were an infant in order to embrace that level of wailing, and scream from your diaphragm, or gut, rather than from your throat. Before you let out that scream, also think about why you’re doing it. You may be angry and frustrated, but your scream needs to come from a more intentional place; what I like to call the soul, or the spot where you believe most of your feelings reside. That, states Inspired by Iceland, will help you let go and move out of lockdown in a healthy way, without the need for aggression.
Obviously, Inspired by Iceland realizes this isn’t the only way to find relief from the intense stress of current events. But hearing your voice echoing throughout one of the nation’s iconic sites, they hope, will help you envision postpandemic travel to Iceland, which is certainly a feel-good exercise.
Check out the “Looks Like You Need to Let It Out” campaign’s promotional video, shown below. Then, watch the short film of Iceland in 8K resolution, produced by Mattia Bicchi, with a calming, original soundtrack by Alberto Vuolato.
I have to admit that after watching the film, I didn’t feel like screaming at all. In fact, I felt an all-too-rare-these-days hopefulness about wondrous travels to come. My wish is that you do, too.
Here’s to finding your true places and natural habitats,