If you’ve ever fantasized about smashing stuff when you’re angry, now you can actually do it—without damaging your own possessions. Rage rooms are, well, all the rage these days, popping up in cities all across the country.
Why are they so popular? Proponents say they offer major stress relief and give you a much-needed opportunity to release bottled-up anger. But is that really the case? We talked to an expert to find out.
Here’s how rage rooms work
When you go to a rage room, you’ll be provided with protective gear, including a hard hat and face shield, and allowed to choose a weapon, such as a sledge hammer. Then it’s time to enter a room filled with lots of stuff to break. Think: TVs, computer monitors, printers, glasses, mugs–whatever the studio you’re visiting has on hand that day. You’ll also have to sign a waiver stating you understand the risks, which include slipping and falling as well as emotional injury.
You can go alone or bring a friend along for the ride and blast the music of your choice to really get you in the mood. Some rage rooms even allow you to bring a box of your own stuff to break. Sessions typically last 15 or 30 minutes and can get pretty expensive. At Break Bar in New York City, for example, a 30-minute session for two people costs $50-100, depending on how many items you want to break.
What the expert says about rage rooms and stress relief
Before you rush out and book an appointment at your local rage room, though, know that experts say not everyone will benefit from taking a sledge hammer to a stack of plates.
“It can be incredibly helpful for some people and incredibly damaging for others,” says Rachel Wright, licensed marriage and family therapist and co-founder of Wright Wellness Center. “For people in the middle, it’s ineffective.”
More specifically, Wright, who has been to a rage room herself, says that for women who have trouble channeling their anger, putting them in this kind of space can be empowering and freeing.
“But if someone defaults to physical aggression, it’s not great,” she says. That’s because it could promote aggressive behavior in the future, which isn’t healthy.
Wright explains that anger is a secondary emotion and that it’s important to understand what’s really causing your feelings before you hightail it to a rage room and start smashing old TVs.
“It’s like an iceberg,” she says. “Anger is what you’re seeing on top of the water, and underneath are feelings like fear, sadness, and anxiety.”
What to try instead of a rage room
Ask yourself: Why are you feeling so angry? If it’s a one-time situation—say, you had a death in the family—then breaking stuff might be an effective way to deal with your grief, says Wright.
But if you experience anger, and other negative feelings, all the time and can’t figure out why, it’s best to talk to a therapist first. You can ask them whether going to a rage room could be good for you, and if they say yes, do so under their guidance and supervision, says Wright.
There are, of course, other activities that will help you get rid of all that pent-up anger or stress. Kickboxing, HIIT workouts, or hip hop dance classes may give you that same feeling of release, says Wright, with the added health benefits that come along with working out.