Other Lessons in This Course
- Do Stress Balls Work?
- Types of Plastic
- Guide to Materials: Polypropylene, Polyester, and Nylon
- Differences Between Pill and No-Pill Fleece
- 50/50 vs. 100% Cotton T-Shirts
- What is Neoprene?
- Different Types of Lead
- BPA Promotional Products
- What is Proposition 65?
- Ounces in Garments
- What Materials Are Used for Koozies?
- Do Stress Balls Work?
- Different Types of Inks and Their Uses
- Different Types of Pens and Their Uses
- Different Types of Tote Bag Materials
- What Are the Different Types of Mugs?
- What Are the Different Types of Adhesives?
Between rush hour traffic, pesky bills, and keeping the kids in check, there’s enough going on during the day to make anyone go crazy. That’s why it’s awesome to have a stress ball in arm’s reach. These squishy lifesavers are not only helpful, but they can also come in fun shapes that fit our vibes, whether it’s a baseball stress reliever for a slugger or a brain stress reliever for a neurology office.
Stress balls can help with:
- Blood Pressure
Do stress balls actually relieve stress? How can they help with serious medical conditions? Squeeze in a little time, take a break from all those bills, and let’s explore how stress balls work.
The Science of Stress Balls
Stress is caused by taking information from two channels – both through primary senses like sight and touch as well as through our intellectual channel: the brain. When the wires get crossed, we get overwhelmed and feel ready to tear our hair out. Squeezing a stress ball makes us feel like we’ve got our primary channel under control, leaving our brain free to focus on the task at hand.
Aside from increasing focus, stress balls also give our bodies the chance to release physical tension. We clench up when dealing with frustrations and squeezing a stress ball activates our arm muscles to contract and release. This improves blood circulation and gives us much-needed relief.
Stress Balls and Concentration
The workplace is often the cause of most people’s stress. However, that isn’t to say others don’t feel tension every day as well. For example, students, whether they are in grade school or college, feel overwhelmed by tests, homework, pending projects, and annoying bullies.
That’s why stress balls make such a great addition to the classroom. The sixth graders at Thomas County Central Middle School in Georgia sure seemed to agree, using theirs to increase their focus during language arts.
Their teacher, Sheryl Stalvey, observed these students for seven weeks and recorded the number of distractions that occurred for the students with stress balls vs. the kids who didn’t have one.
It was found that kinesthetic learners (those who need to fidget) had an increased attention span compared to other learners when squeezing the stress balls. These students had improved paragraph structure and better interactions with their peers. All it took was a little foam toy to keep them on track and enhance their creativity.
Figure 1. Number of distraction incidents during 5-minute intervals of direct instruction and independent practice with (SB) and without stress ball (NSB) use. Error bars indicate standard deviations.
Sheryl Stalvey, Heather Brasell, Journal of At-Risk Issues
Bring in the Stress Balls, Stat!
Stress balls not only help with concentration, but they also have many health benefits. Doctors and nurses turn to squishy toys to improve the blood pressure, arthritis symptoms, and anxiety levels of their patients.
Stress Balls and Blood Pressure
Alarmingly, 1 out of every 3 American adults has high blood pressure according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are simple steps you can take to get on better track with your health and that includes picking up a stress ball.
Dr. Robert Brook, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan, suggests squeezing a stress ball to help lower blood pressure. This is referred to as “isometric handgrip exercises,” which are short bursts of working your hand muscles.
According to University Hospitals, a medical center that provides training and education, your blood pressure will significantly improve at the end of the six weeks. You still shouldn’t pile salt onto your French fries, but the stress ball is a great start when it comes to positive changes in your blood pressure.
Stress Balls and Arthritis
Blood pressure is a common ailment in the United States, but many others suffer from arthritis, which is inflammation in the joints that causes pain and stiffness. In fact, an estimated 50 million Americans are dealing with these symptoms.
A study by the University of Oxford found that stress balls are a good way to relieve arthritis in the hands. Patients who squeezed stress balls in tandem with their normal treatments had significant improvement in hand flexibility, dexterity, and muscle strength.
The best part about this exercise is it’s easy and can be done anywhere, from sitting in the waiting room to standing in line at the grocery store. A stress ball isn’t the cure to arthritis, but it will help reduce pain in the joints and strengthen hand muscles.
Stress Balls and Anxiety
While stress balls are great for improving blood pressure and arthritis, they can also improve our mental health. Dr. Jane Ogden, a psychology professor at the University of Surrey, reports that stress balls significantly reduce anxiety, particularly for those who are in high-stress situations like surgery.
Ogden and other researchers at the University of Surrey evaluated 398 patients who were undergoing varicose vein surgery. The team used a system of measurement called the S-STAI (state-trait anxiety inventory) to track the anxiety levels of each patient as they awaited the procedure. Some of the patients had a distraction, like a stress ball to squeeze, DVD to watch, or nurse to chat with, while others awaited the surgery without anything else to direct their focus.
The study found that stress balls and other distractions not only made the patients feel less anxious, but also helped reduce their pain. Who knew a little foam toy could be that impactful?
What Are the Other Benefits of Stress Balls?
You can use stress balls to improve the quality of your everyday life. There are many benefits in using stress balls at work, home, and everywhere in between!
The work/life balance can be difficult to manage, but tiny stress balls make it a little easier. Find one that fits your personality and keep it right in your purse or pocket for those moments when you need a quick mood, health, or energy boost.
The Bottom Line
Stress balls work for many different reasons, from traffic jams to medical conditions. If that isn’t enough, they’re also a lot more fun than business cards when it comes to advertising. Next time you’re feeling at wit’s end, or just want something cool for your desk, make stress balls your main squeeze!
Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. She has a BA in English & Communications and has written for Counselor Magazine and The Bolingbrook Sun. If you need her, you’ll find her buried in research, in the middle of a phone interview, or singing way off-tune in her office.