Smash away your stress in rage room

Dear friends, have you ever been so stressed or mad about life that you want to do something drastic — like smashing not only a bottle but many bottles to pieces? In Beijing, China, there is a place where you can do just that.

You just have to pay 158 yuan (US$23) to spend half an hour in an anger room (also called rage room or smash room). Wearing protective gear, you will use hammers and bats to vent your anger on household objects while the staff there will play music of your choice in the background.

Twenty-five-year-old Jin Meng co-founded Smash, the company that provides the anger rooms, not to promote violence but to help people deal with the pressures in living in big cities like Beijing. Since she founded the company, Smash’s customers have smashed around 15,000 bottles every month. Around 600 people visit Smash every month, too.

Although Jin’s target customers are between 20 and 35 years old, high school students have also visited the anger rooms to vent their anger about school. Similar smash rooms also exist in many countries around the world including the United States, Canada, Netherlands, Australia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The smash room in Dubai, UAE was co-founded by Hiba Balfqih and her best friend, Ibrahim Abudyak. When her grandmother passed away, Balfqih experienced a lot of anger and resentment until she found solace in smashing. She founded the smash room as a platform for the public to deal with stress by smashing things instead of resorting to selfharming behaviours.

Just like the smash room in Beijing, customers at the smash room in Dubai are given protective gear, gloves and faceguards so that they can smash things around in a safe and  controlled environment. In 2016, there was also a Smash House in Kuchai Lama, Kuala Lumpur. It was founded by 10 youngsters below 30 years old who wanted to start Malaysia’s first stress-relieving outlet.

They pumped in a total of RM100,000 to start a place for the public to smash things to pieces. One of the co-founders was a hypnotherapist and after reducing their stress and venting negative emotions by smashing things, customers could share their emotions in a consultation room with him. Another co-founder said that many people were facing a great deal of stress but did not have a place to let it all out.

“They can’t just break kitchen utensils at home or damage facilities in the office or in public places,” he added. The Smash House in Kuchai Lama then catered for all genders but customers had to be 18 years old and above. Among the items for smashing were office computer equipment, tableware such as plates and cups and wine bottles.

But it looks like this particular Smash House is now permanently closed. One such company, the Break Room, near Atlanta was much sought after by infuriated Falcons fans after Super Bowl LI.

There, with prices ranging from US$20 to US$90, customers are armed with the instrument of their choice — a baseball bat, a crowbar or a sledgehammer. They may also pick items or bring their own instruments. Dr Amit Sood, a medical professor at the Mayo Clinic, is sceptical of how much help a 20minute session at the Break Room can help in reducing stress. “Well, it’s better to break a TV than a nose, that’s for sure,” he told CNN.

Sood, however, admitted that the need for anger rooms could be a sign of the times. He suggested alternatives to reducing stress and anger such as controlled deep breathing, lowering expectations and the mindful practice of keeping things in perspective.

Innovative Singapore recently came out with an interesting alternative to the smash rooms or break rooms — the Splat Paint House. Instead of venting their anger by breaking objects, Splat Paint House customers dressed in overalls squirt paint onto walls and canvases using water pistols and syringes.

At the new pop-art studio, the public get messy to relieve their stress. For S$39 (RM118), they get a package including canvas, paint, gloves and overalls. With no rules and no time limit, customers can keep on going until they run out of paint or until their canvas is full. Splat Paint House founder Abdrea Lim wants her clients to go home with beautiful creations they can proudly display in their homes. There are so far no smash rooms, break rooms or Splat Paint Houses in Kuching City.

Could it be because there is no demand for them? If that is so, we should take comfort that for the time being, the stress level in the city in general is still controllable. Stress is a normal part of life. It is the body’s natural defence against predators and danger. Your environment, your body and your thoughts can give you stress. Learn to manage your stress for a happier, healthier life.

There are many good tips for reducing stress online. Go and look for them if  you are stressed. I’d like to conclude this week’s column by sharing three tips with you — be positive, accept that there are events you cannot control and make time for hobbies and interests.