Here are alternatives to rage rooms to help you work through your emotions
People visit rage rooms so they can go wild. That’s because rage rooms give us full permission to buck the rules of a polite, orderly society. I’ve even done something similar in the past, and it’s a lot of fun.
But businesses selling these activities as a way to improve our lives, deal with anger and become less raged out is a problem because that’s not going to be the outcome.
But first, if you’ve never been to a rage room, here’s how they work. To start, you make an appointment just like any other service. Slot times vary, but they’re usually around 15 to 20 minutes.
Next, you sign a safety waiver and put on protective gear, like a hard hat, goggles and gloves. Then, you’re set loose in a private room with reinforced walls and given pieces of junk, like broken or outdated household items, and your smash tool of choice. Then, it’s go time. You start your 15-minute frenzy of demolishing toasters with bats, hurling dinner plates against the wall, crushing TVs with hammers – you get the idea.
And yeah, that might sound like the ultimate stress relief. But really, the long-term effects of dealing with anger this way can actually create a new, automatic response of losing control.
Simply put: Dealing with anger by smashing things at a rage room will lead to you being angrier and more aggressive more often.
Are rage rooms good for you?
No. The evidence around anger, rage and aggression is clear: Dealing with your rage through aggression simply reinforces the rage. Channeling anger and frustration in quick, violent bursts can make this expression your default reaction. That’s because what you choose to do after feeling any intense or uncomfortable emotion becomes your default coping mechanism.
If you choose to be angry when someone cuts you off in traffic, or rage out at the Little League umpire’s call, your body wants to make these responses automatic in the future.
That means the next time you get cranky or frustrated, your body will respond with the same physical, aggressive response. And if you have children, they’ll see your responses and learn that adults handle anger by smashing things or screaming at people. Then they’ll start to act the same way.
Healthy ways to handle rage
Anger is simply our body’s way of getting our attention and pointing us toward something we care about. For example, I care deeply about my children’s safety. When some distracted dude roars down our residential street at twice the speed limit, I get angry because that driver is putting my kids in danger.
Now, what’s a healthy response when we get frustrated? Feel it. Own it. Instead of trying to “get it out,” sit in it. Say out loud, “I’m really frustrated.” Or, “I’m angry.” Or, “I’m raging inside.” Acknowledge out loud what you feel and why you feel that way, and let your body be in the moment. Be curious about why you’re angry, and be specific about why your body is trying to get your attention.
Then, if you still need to discharge that energy, choose something better for yourself than a cheap, violent thrill. Here are some quick, effective options that can help you let off steam and handle rage in a healthy way:
• Take a walk, lift weights, or find other ways to move your body. I’m convinced that any relief people feel after visiting a rage room is because of the exercise involved, not the aggressive behavior.
• Write it down. Writing or journaling is clarifying and expressive. When you write down what you’re angry about, your body and mind process and feel your feelings. When you write down your feelings, be specific. Be curious. And demand evidence from them. Are they true? Or have you created stories and blame around your feelings to justify your anger? It’s easier to see the truth for what it is when you see your thoughts on the page.
• Call someone you care about and have a real conversation. We need connection. We can’t do life alone. And when you do call someone, tell them, “I don’t need solutions. I just need to let you know what’s going on.”
• Meditate or pray. You might just find that the things you’re getting worked up over aren’t as big of a deal as you thought. Even a simple three-minute break can help clear your head.
• Practice deep breathing. This is one of the fastest ways you can center yourself in your body and begin to regulate your stress response.
• Find a good counselor or therapist. When you’re dealing with rage or anxiety, having a professional walk alongside you can make all the difference in your healing. Getting to the root of anger can help you get control of how you feel and express anger in the future.
We’re constantly training our bodies for how we want them to respond to challenges. So, instead of training your body to respond to anger and aggression with more anger and aggression, train your body to reach for healthy stress relief options. Reach toward peace, patience and kindness, even when the wheels are falling off. How you respond is a choice.
And you have more power than you think.