You may have heard about rage rooms, also known as smash or anger rooms, where you pay a small fee to literally destroy a room. That's right — your dreams of being on HGTV and demoing a room can finally come true.
But does it actually release all the emotions and anger you've been feeling? Psychologist Joseph Tan, PhD, shares his thoughts on this new and popular trend.
Why Anger Makes Us Lash Out
You've had a rough day or week, but why do you want to hit or throw something? Tan explains anger is a natural response when we feel wronged or unable to achieve a goal, motivating us to take action. Sometimes this feeling makes us want to take physical action, as anger can motivate us to defend ourselves from harm.
So it may be satisfying to hit or throw something because you’re acting on an emotion you're feeling in the moment. This is similar to the feeling of relief when a meeting you’re anxious about gets postponed. But these feelings are short-lived and don’t help in the long run.
New Trend: Rage Rooms
Tan feels the real benefit from these rage rooms is really just having fun! It’s a new, entertaining experience, whether you’re alone or with friends.
However, this approach isn't a great way to cope with anger or stress. Venting your anger doesn't help you solve why you're upset in the first place. You should address the source of your anger or set stricter boundaries.
It's true — never expressing your emotions can be dangerous. You won't literally explode, but you have only one strategy, avoidance, to responding to very strong emotions. And it never works out well for you or others involved. You have to find a way to cope and try to find a solution to the issue.
Instead of yelling or throwing things, try:
- Sharing how you feel with a friend or close family member
- Writing your thoughts down
A great example is that most would be frustrated if their boss assigns them difficult tasks and quick turnarounds and doesn’t share their expectations. After a day like this, you’re likely going to vent about your emotions to co-workers, partner, or friends. Instead, try communicating directly with your boss or talking to a mentor about handling the situation best.
Chronic stress can put “wear-and-tear” on your body, causing a variety of health issues. According to the American Psychological Association, it can affect both your physical and mental wellbeing with such problems as:
- Muscle pain
- High blood pressure
- Weakened immune system
- Contribute to major illnesses like heart disease or stroke
Why Kickboxing is Different
So you may be thinking, "Well, what's the difference between kickboxing or karate from rage rooms?" You're still hitting things, and it feels good to release in class.
Exercise alone has a lot of different benefits. Tan encourages people to think about the activity more broadly, not as a solution to cope with anger or a really bad day. Exercise classes also offer connections and social interaction. So you’re benefiting both your physical and mental health by being active.
If your child has some anger issues, talk with them about what you both enjoy from activities. This will be a better mindset for your child than, “I’m taking a class to deal with my problems.”
Anger Management: Healthy Ways To Control Your Rage
Start by working on relaxation skills and bringing a sense of calm to your body. Breathing exercises and muscle relaxation can help. You want to build that mind-body connection, so you'll notice when your feelings of anger or stress start to build up.
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Also, practicing how we respond in an angry situation can help us avoid additional problems. Sometimes, you just have to walk away or be assertive. If you're struggling to resolve an issue, seek support from others to find the best strategy to handle it.
Sometimes our anger can get the best of us and cloud our judgment. Reframing your thinking can help de-escalate our response to problems.
So back to the boss example, and you may be feeling like your boss is out to get you or want you to fail. A reframed mindset would be, “This boss is a little careless and doesn't realize that what they’re doing is affecting me.” It’s best to get more information to frame the appropriate thought, as it can be more than one possibility.
Quick Tips To Stay Calm
- Practice working on body-calming exercises, such as breathing techniques, muscle relaxation, meditation, and staying present.
- Buy yourself some time. Count to 10 before responding and take some calm breaths. Or walk away and come back to the situation when you feel calmer.
- Ask yourself, "What is bothering me the most about this situation?" This can lead you to the appropriate response or best way to get across your point. Need a little more help outside of in-the-moment tips? If you have a smartphone, use self-guided relaxation apps and work them into your daily routine. Professionals like a psychotherapist can help you build the tools you need to manage anger and respond to situations that make you angry.