What does your body need right now? Maybe it’s a hand on your heart. A cathartic scream. A deep breath. A good cry. Feel free to experiment with each. It might surprise you what ends up feeling good.

I had an interesting experience this morning. I met a friend in the park to exercise and move our bodies and as I started working out, I realized something important: I needed to scream.

The past two days, I had been telling myself that I needed to slow down and take some deep breaths. I had been doing some yoga, which I hadn’t done in years, trying to get out of my head and into my body. This has felt great.

But actually, in this moment today, my body was telling me something different.  The anxious unsettled tearing-me-up energy inside me did not want a deep breath.  It wanted a scream. The energy inside me wanted to match itself in an expression. I needed to let out a real, loud, guttural, scream.

So… I did it.  Luckily, we were in an area without any other people, and so I told my friend (I said, “One second, I realize that I need to scream right now. I am going to do it. Get ready!”) and let out a scream that was some combination of an exhale / yell / catharsis.  It felt so good. Truly, it did.

Do I feel amazing now? No. That same anxious energy is still cycling in my body.  But something does feel a bit better. I feel less stagnant and weighed-down, a bit lighter and more forward-moving.

You may not need to scream.  Or you may need to scream and then take some deep breaths. The larger point is this: ask your body what it needs. And if you’re not sure, experiment.

When I see my kids later today, I plan to talk to them about this. I think I’ll tell them: “Do you ever feel like you have all this energy in your body, like it’s a bit nervous and angry and just wiggly in there, and sometimes a deep breath actually isn’t the thing you need? Do you ever feel like you need to just let out a scream? Not a scream in reaction to something someone does… like a planned out ‘I’m going to scream now’ kind of scream? Well, I had one of those today… and it felt awesome!”

Maybe we will have a family scream after that. This is one of my favorite pandemic activities, actually: a pro-active, let’s let out some of our pent-up angsty energy … together. For more pathways to self-care and tips on managing anxiety, be sure to explore my workshops.