Stressed-out Seattle residents can try rage rooms and float therapy, but do they work?

Stressed-out Seattle residents can try rage rooms and float therapy, but do they work?

The Mental Health Project is a Seattle Times initiative focused on coverage of mental and behavioral health issues. It is funded by Ballmer Group, a national organization focused on the economic mobility of children and families. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over the work produced by this team.

Tamarah Taylor’s friend tricked her into letting loose in late August as they strolled through a block party at White Center, so she walked into a small tent in the corner while ‘I’m So Sick’ from Flyleaf was playing in the background. Feeling a little silly, she timidly picked up a mace and smashed a red vase into crumbs. And then she lifted him again and again.

Taylor has been frantically looking for an apartment for the past few months. Faced with high rents, she also decided to look for a better paying job. On top of that, her relationship with her roommates was deteriorating. The stress was weighing on his mental health.

So she walked into a rage room and, well, raged. The red vase wasn’t the only thing she had destroyed.

Rage rooms, also known as break rooms, are just one example of an alternative form of stress relief, alongside a diverse catalog that includes equine art and therapy, mindfulness practices like yoga, acupuncture and floating therapy sessions where people find calm in a meditation-like setting.

Although not all of these forms of stress relief are evidence-based, many people still end up finding what they are looking for – respite from the stress of a tumultuous world.

Rage rooms are relatively new, first reported in Japan around 2008. The idea is simple: people pay to enter an enclosed space wearing safety goggles, coveralls and work gloves, and release their frustrations by destroying dishes, coffee cups and even old televisions or computers. destined for the trash.

Possible tools of destruction include a baseball bat, golf club, or sledgehammer.

“I was in there for about three minutes and that was the best three minutes I’ve ever had,” Taylor said. “It was so cathartic.”

Little research has been done on the therapeutic benefits of rage rooms. For those with anger management issues, mental health professionals suggest another outlet.

“Anger is a secondary emotion,” says Paolo Laraño, a clinical psychologist who works in the Seattle area.

“It’s like cutting [a] stem weed. Because your anger releases a bit, but the root is still there, the depression, the sadness,” he said.

Laraño also pointed out that anger is largely gendered in our society, with boys and men often learning that being aggressive or physically powerful is the best or only way to open up, while women largely minimize or hold back their anger. .

Anecdotally, he’s heard great comments from clients who have found the break rooms liberating – a place where they have explicit permission to be violent.

Adam Wannamaker is the owner of Smash (It) Seattle, a pop-up rage room — the same one Taylor entered in August. Wannamaker’s business has only been running for a few months, but he’s found that Taylor’s reaction is quite common.

“Even the people who hesitated,” he explained. “If you can get them into the tent, they’ll come out like, ‘Oh my god, that was so much fun!'”

As Taylor said, “I didn’t even know I needed this release until I broke this glass.”

Breaking things – even for a few minutes – is quite active, working your arm and back muscles. People often sweat and feel tired afterwards as the adrenaline wears off. It’s not your traditional elliptical trainer, but it is a form of exercise, which releases endorphins – hormones that help relieve pain and manage stress.

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If rabies isn’t your thing, perhaps a quieter option can offer some stress relief. Some swear by floating therapy, a unique experience where 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt transforms the density of water, suspending you effortlessly in a warm bath.

Also known as Sensory Deprivation Modules, Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy, or simply REST, the experience is a cocoon-like respite. The water is maintained at a temperature similar to that of the human body, with minimal sound and visual cues, resulting in an incredibly quiet and calm space.

For those worried about feeling trapped or claustrophobic, Andrew Loppnow, owner of Float Seattle, said that in his experience, most people don’t feel that way once they’re inside the tank. .

“Instead of feeling like you’re locked in a box or a capsule, the feeling actually turns around,” he said. “You start to feel like you’re floating in space.”

Loppnow also views the experience less as sensory deprivation and more as sensory enhancement.

“It’s called your interoception, your sense of your body,” he said. “You’re going to be very in tune with your breathing and your heart rate.”

Originating in the mid-1950s, alternative therapy is the brainchild of neuroscientist John C. Lilly. It has been suggested as a treatment for chronic pain, anxiety, depression, addiction, insomnia, and a host of other mental health issues.

However, over the years research has yielded mixed results with small sample sizes or studies limited to qualitative work.

A 2021 randomized clinical trial published in JAMA Network Open found no long-term benefit in 99 patients with chronic pain after five treatment sessions. A separate meta-analysis of 27 studies published in the journal Psychology & Health found positive physiological effects like lower blood pressure and cortisol levels. The researchers concluded that “despite some limitations of the original studies, REST flotation may be a useful stress management tool.”

Other researchers are investigating the potential benefits of float therapy in treating anorexia, tobacco addiction, burnout, and recovery in athletes.

Flotation therapy is not recommended for people with new tattoos, open wounds, or recently dyed hair. People with kidney disease are also not recommended.

For Loppnow, the proof is in how he feels after a floater. He started therapy in 2014 during a particularly stressful time in his life. Now he tries floating at least once a week and views it as a preventative tool that brings intentional calm into his life, similar to yoga or any mindfulness-based practice.

Laraño, the clinical psychologist, has also seen some of his clients gravitate toward float therapy.

“I could see the benefits of that feeling of weightlessness… If they’re able to take that and make it a part of their life where [people] can center or simply reconnect and ground in their five senses. I can see it’s an incredibly powerful thing.

Floating therapy and rage rooms are not a substitute for the medical care or personalized treatment a therapist can provide. However, Laraño said he believes in therapeutic exercises that go beyond traditional therapy, including those involving a hammer or a float.

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