What’s inside this article: A look at current research to answer the question “Do stress balls work?”. Here is what we know about using stress balls to lower stress and anxiety.
A stress ball is a small, malleable ball that you squeeze and manipulate with your hand and fingers with the intention of relieving stress. Believe it or not, they’ve been used for thousands of years.
They’re usually filled with a dense foam rubber called polyurethane. But, sometimes, people make their own stress balls using fillings like rice, sand, baking soda, slime, or water beads.
But you might be wondering – do stress balls actually work? As in, does squeezing a stress ball help relieve stress levels? Let’s look at the science behind it.
Do Stress Balls Work?
So squeezing a stress ball won’t magically take all of your stress away, although it would be awesome if it did.
There is, however, scientific evidence that using a stress ball helps alleviate stress.
What Happens When We’re Stressed?
When we’re feeling stress, there is a physiological reaction that takes place.
Our brains release several hormones as a response to stress. These are cortisol (often called the stress hormone), adrenaline, and noradrenaline. If we’re stressed enough, it may even trigger our fight or flight response.
You’ll notice physical signs of stress like increased heart rate and breathing, tense muscles, racing thoughts, and heightened senses.
These hormones create built-up tension and energy that has nowhere to go. Have you ever been worked up and felt like throwing something or hitting something? That’s your body looking for a way to release that energy and tension.
This is where stress balls come into play.
Stress balls work by providing a safe way to release that energy.
Some people release their energy through running, yoga, kickboxing, etc. but that’s not exactly an option when you’re in the office trying to meet an urgent deadline, or at home caring for young children who are making you feel bonkers.
These are the times a stress ball comes in handy.
What Does The Research Say?
There has been a number of studies into the benefits of using a stress ball. Here are some of the benefits these studies discovered:
- Researchers found squeezing a stress ball can reduce anxiety by up to 18% before surgery. (Source)
- Stress balls increase creativity; when squeezed in the left hand, they trigger more neural activity on the right side of the brain (which is your brain’s creative side). The study found that participants had higher scores on a creative thinking test than the participants who did not have a stress ball or squeezed the stress ball in their right hand.
- A number of studies support the idea that stress balls and other fidgets improve focus and productivity. They can also help students with ADHD be more successful in school. In one study, researchers found stress balls improved attention, writing abilities, and peer interaction in 6th-grade students.
Need to Reduce Stress?
So, the stress ball may not eliminate all your stress; it can help you release some of that built-up negative energy.
A lot of us deal with chronic high stress. If you’re looking for other ways to reduce stress, read this.