Screaming has been known to have a cathartic effect on people. A loud, shrill, intense scream gives one a sense of release and leaves the screamer feeling at peace. Screaming is no doubt, a cheap outlet for pent up anger, energy and tension.

A few years ago, as students my friend and I discovered a simple way to manage life’s problems. Rather than bottle up stress or down tablets, booze or whatever options fellow students chose to drown their sorrows, we developed the habit of taking long walks at night, to a place where we could scream. Yes, we would just scream!

Once in a while, after a build up of stress, we would take our crazy, screaming walks, let out the steam and live happily until it was time to scream again. We would find an isolated spot in Harare’s concrete jungle at a time when traffic had subsided to avoid unwanted attention from people who might think we were screaming for help. Then we would scream it all out. Of course the cover of darkness also protected our identities during those mad moments.

For a good hour, we would open our mouths wide and pierce the air with the sound of our screams. We would forget our troubles as we focused all our energy into releasing long, loud screams that would be punctuated by bursts of laughter as we watched each other and realised how silly we looked. Sometimes we would almost stumble and fall as we emptied out every ounce of breath and followed the sound of our screams. We would scream in turns, unison and sometimes in competition as we tried to out scream each other. Whatever the case, the screams left us with a feeling of exhilaration and boy, oh boy, it felt so good to scream into the night.

Of course then, it was perfectly acceptable to go on a screaming spree. Not only did we have the excuse of being reckless youth, but we were also journalism students and all manner of behaviour was perfectly acceptable.

I can still hear the sound of those screams in my mind. Although I cannot quite describe each distinct sound, I remember the feeling of euphoria wrought by the screams. We always returned to campus feeling elated and life in our happy mood continued until the next screaming bout, which usually averaged a month. Somehow, we always knew when it was time to scream again.

Now as adults, we cannot disappear into the night to scream. We no longer have the excuse of being wild young journalism students and reverting to that behaviour would lead many to question our sanity. The space to scream has shrunk and been replaced by expensive but ineffective options that “professional adults” are expected to resort to. We have learnt to “contain” our feelings and to seek “sophisticated” methods of managing stress.

I have seen adults resort to all manner of stress relief solutions such as counselling, smoking, drinking, dance classes, stress management courses and all sorts of possible solutions, yet they do not seem to get any relief. In frustration, some have become bitter and abusive, while others have turned into sad, hopeless and reclusive beings. Some have even developed stress-related illnesses and have become dependent on medication for life.

I am convinced that the solutions to life’s problems are simple. Although I am not a psychologist, I cannot help but wonder what would happen if we went back to basics and just screamed it all out. I am sure there are people would benefit immensely from screaming every once in a while. Personally, a screaming bout would do me good.

Perhaps someone ought to start a chain of clubs with sound proof walls where those of us who have experienced the therapeutic effect of screaming can all go to just scream.

I don’t imagine this will work for everybody, but certainly, for me, it would. And I bet there are people out there who could live happier, healthier lives if they just took time to inhale and scream.

So there you have it, next time you’re stressed why not just scream it all out?!

Written by Matilda Moyo 1 October 2010