Do Stress Balls Actually Work?


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Stress balls are everywhere – at trade shows, at your doctor’s office, lying forgotten in the far corners of your household junk drawer. Everyone seems to love giving them away, but do stress balls actually do anything to relieve anxiety?


The short answer is YES.

Movement is a great way to release both mental and physical tension. Even if the action is as subtle as manipulating a small object in your hands, activating your muscles can help break your mind out of cyclic negative thinking and focus its attention elsewhere.

Stress balls are a convenient and cheap way to bring this relief wherever you go, including the workplace. The most common kind are squeezable and are typically made of foam or filled with some type of malleable substance, like a beanbag. There are also solid stress balls that come in pairs and are meant to be rolled in the hand rather than squeezed.


Regardless of what kind of stress ball you’re using, try treating them as you would a form of meditation.

When you notice the you’re getting stressed, take the stress ball and begin to manipulate it. Focus your attention on the object in your hand for a few minutes. Is it warm or cold? Soft or hard? What kind of texture does it have? Notice the sensations in your hand. How does the surface of the ball feel on your skin? As all the tiny muscles are working, are they creating warmth? Are your joints a little stiff?  Really zero in on any feelings of release or softening that occur in your hand or any other parts of your body.

Manipulating a stress ball this way for even a short time may be enough to release pent-up tension and let you return to whatever you were doing in a more positive mindset. Repeat this as often as necessary. You may even want to try handling the stress ball while you’re doing other tasks, such as reading or watching television. However, if the stress and accompanying tension become overwhelming or continue for a substantial amount of time, be sure to seek professional help.

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