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Rage Rooms and Primitive Screams: How Stressed Workers Vent | Health & Wellness

On Zoom, no one can hear you scream. But since our return to the office, those quiet corners and private meeting rooms might be in high demand.

Whether for personal or professional reasons, or the inextricable intersection of the two, almost everyone who spends time in an office will have had a meltdown there at least once.

A 2019 survey by job search website showed that out of more than 3,000 respondents, nearly 85% said they had cried at work. A more recent survey by a temporary employment agency of a similar sample size showed that 52% had lost their temper.

And that was before the pandemic. Now it seems that workers are increasingly pursuing their own strategies for relieving tension, some surprisingly primal.

In the new season of financial drama Industry, which premieres on BBC One on Tuesday night, exhausted city workers flee to toilets to self-medicate with caffeine, nicotine and harder stuff in a desperate effort to stay healthy. float.

For those of us who don’t have a spending budget, leaving the office may be our only option.

A new survey of 1,000 office workers conducted for Leadenhall Market found that taking a breather was the most common way for office workers to blow off steam, followed by a walk around the block.

Now those stressed out in the City can look for something stronger (and no, the pint at The Lamb Tavern doesn’t do it).

Next week, Leadenhall Market will host a free ‘Screamatorium’ – a private, enclosed space where you can scream at the top of your lungs.

Catherine Jordan Jones, a spokeswoman for Leadenhall Market, believes it is the only facility of its kind in the UK. “Now it’s back to work, back to school, people can feel a little sad, it’s just a fun way to let go.”

For those who are competitively minded, a staff member will be on hand to measure the decibels of each scream and maintain a leaderboard. (90-130dB is the average).

Participants can then squeeze out every last bit of aggressiveness in a game of whack the mole, before kicking back in a neighboring meditation room, with some breathing exercises and sugary carbs, in the form of free cake.

“I think it’s a good combination: scream, punch, cake,” says Jordan Jones. “Who wouldn’t be happy after that?”

“Primal scream” therapy was a self-help touchstone of the 1970s, but it lacks a scientific basis, says Harold Gouzoules, a professor in Emory University’s department of psychology and an expert on screams, both human and non-human. humans.

“We’re all familiar with the release that comes from a good yell or a good squeal, but for some people, a good cry, a good laugh, or hitting a punching bag all serve the same purpose,” he says.

“Certainly there’s tension and tension release, but I don’t think yelling has any kind of primacy, in terms of how you do it.”

In fact, if the idea of ​​screaming into space has a dangerous appeal, the reason could be simple: we enjoy it.

Gouzoules points to the popularity of haunted house attractions and theme parks; one study found that people who were told not to scream on a roller coaster reported having less fun.

“There’s that fun aspect,” Gouzoules says, though, he adds, he doesn’t share it himself. “I am not a screamer. I try to be a laugh.”

But with the mental health crisis worsening since the pandemic and therapy becoming more unaffordable, it may come as no surprise that there seems to be a growing demand for appropriate places to unwind.

Gemma Whiddett, manager of Norwich Rage Rooms, says the business has never been busier. The facility rents out fortified rooms filled with pottery to break for half an hour, and has emblazoned on its front door: “Anger is a gift.”

“I don’t think people really got it at first,” says Whiddett.

But, over the last year, there has not only been an increase in interest; people come up with specific reasons for release.

In addition to standard bachelor parties, Whiddett says, “We have people who come the day before a funeral, people who are recovering from drug and drink addictions… It’s not just fun anymore: people have a real reason to come.” .”

She recalls a recent client: “She spent five minutes trashing, 40 minutes sitting on the floor crying, and she actually walked away smiling.”

Another man booked after being turned down for a promotion. “People are realizing that the rage room has a use,” says Whiddett. “We have a lot of people who work in the hospitality industry and primary school teachers.”

Andy Reynolds opened Smash Space, Newcastle’s first and only rage room a year ago, and has since had over 3,000 people through the doors.

He had anticipated that the target market would be students; in fact, it has been overwhelmingly shown that they are 30-50 year olds who work full time.

Reynolds has even heard of psychiatrists referring patients for a cathartic crush session. “There’s been a lot of uptake in the mental health aspect,” she says. “We live in a stressful world, and people have tough jobs, and it’s good for them to have that outlet, even just to have fun with your friends.”

Reynolds himself works as a legal adviser at the Ministry of Justice five days a week, which means that almost a year has passed since his last session. “That may be my mistake,” he jokes.

Sometimes real life gets in the way of liberation. In 2021, a large clay “screaming pot” on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and envisioned as a safe space for visitors to vent their frustrations in public, had to be cordoned off due to the risk of the spread of Covid-19. (The Screamatorium, first scheduled for the period of mourning for the Queen, which was also “postponed as a mark of respect”).

Instead, the screaming pot feature, by Iranian-Canadian artist Babak Golkar, from his 2014 Time to Let Go series, was demonstrated on video. “It wasn’t what he intended,” says Vancouver’s Golkar. “You have to be able to put your face against that object and try it out.”

Golkar began making his screaming pots in 2011, seeking to expand his practice with clay and an outlet for his own pent-up emotions. “It’s really hard to pin down what the sources of those frustrations were,” he says, “but suffice it to say they must have been building up for a while.”

Since then, Golkar has made several terracotta screaming pots, the largest the size of a person, up to 2 meters long, with a cushioning effect.

“Screaming is such a basic thing: if a child screams in public, no one turns their heads, but if I scream in public, the authorities will be called,” he says. “I was really interested in engaging the public, giving them a platform or an excuse.”

For six months in 2014, some of Golkar’s largest screaming pots were installed outside the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver, commissioned by the Vancouver Art Gallery, perched on a pile of sandbags and pointed directly at what then it was the nearby Trump International Hotel.

It was one of the most popular pieces of public art on the site, says Golkar. “I wish I had more projects like this, which becomes more and more relevant.”

He has even received requests to mass-produce screaming canisters for personal use. One reviewer suggested that everyone should have one, says Golkar. “I think the world would be a happier place.”

The Screamatorium is open in London’s Leadenhall Market from Tuesday 27 to friday 30 September, from 11:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. every day with free admission and without prior reservation.


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