Stress balls can be a helpful tool for managing temporary stress and tension by providing a tactile distraction and promoting relaxation.

Stress balls are soft, pliable, and easy-to-squeeze objects designed to provide a physical outlet for stress, tension, and nervous energy.

The tactile experience and repetitive squeezing of stress balls can offer a soothing sensory distraction that effectively redirects your attention away from anxiety. For many people, they’re a practical and simple-to-use tool for managing brief episodes of stress.

The effectiveness of stress balls varies among individuals and depends on the specific situation and the underlying causes of stress or anxiety. While some may find them useful for mild stress relief, research on their effectiveness is mixed.

One study investigated the impact of using a stress ball as a distraction method on stress, vital signs, and comfort levels in hemodialysis patients. The research involved 45 people, with one group using a stress ball during dialysis sessions.

While there were no significant changes in vital signs or comfort levels, the stress ball helped reduce stress in the group that used it.

Another study found that stress balls used during lithotripsy procedures for kidney or ureter stones were found to have a positive impact on reducing pain levels in patients.

However, they did not significantly affect anxiety levels during the procedure. Further research is needed to better understand the effectiveness of stress balls in managing pain and anxiety in this context.

Can stress balls help with anxiety?

Stress balls may be helpful for anxiety in some cases. They give you something tactile to focus on and can help you relax by squeezing and releasing. But keep in mind that they work differently for everyone and are usually better for mild anxiety.

Stress balls may provide temporary relief from situational (state) anxiety by offering a sensory distraction. For long-term general (trait) anxiety, they can be part of a broader relaxation strategy but may not be the sole solution.

Squeezing a stress ball can offer several potential benefits, including:

  • Stress reduction: Stress balls may help reduce stress and tension by providing a physical outlet for nervous energy.
  • Relaxation: The repetitive squeezing and releasing motion may promote relaxation and a sense of calm.
  • Improved focus: Using a stress ball may help improve concentration and focus, particularly during stressful or anxious moments.
  • Tactile distraction: It provides a tactile and sensory distraction that can divert attention away from anxiety-inducing thoughts or situations.
  • Hand strength: Regular use of stress balls can help strengthen hand and forearm muscles, which may be beneficial for arthritis or as part of physical therapy.
  • Mindfulness: Squeezing a stress ball can serve as a form of mindfulness practice, helping you stay grounded in the present moment.
  • Portable stress relief: Stress balls are small and portable, making them a convenient on-the-go tool for stress relief.

To use a stress ball, hold it in one hand and squeeze it firmly, then release. Repeat this squeezing and releasing motion to help reduce stress and tension. You can use it while sitting, standing, or during moments of stress or anxiety for relaxation.

How long should you squeeze a stress ball?

Squeeze the stress ball for as long as it effectively reduces stress and tension. Some people may find it helpful to squeeze and release the stress ball for a few seconds, while others might use it for several minutes. There’s no strict time limit, so use it as a tool for relaxation and stress relief that works best for you.

While stress balls can be helpful for stress relief and relaxation, they have their limits and may not address all aspects of stress or anxiety. Here are some limitations and things stress balls typically don’t do:

  • Complex stressors: Stress balls may not effectively address complex or multifaceted sources of stress, such as work-related stress or relationship problems.
  • Severe anxiety disorders: If you have anxiety disorders like generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder, stress balls alone are unlikely to provide sufficient relief.
  • Long-term stress management: While they can provide momentary relief, stress balls aren’t a comprehensive solution for long-term stress management. Effective stress management often requires a combination of strategies, including attending therapy, exercise, and lifestyle measures.

Stress balls are pliable objects designed for squeezing and manipulation. They can provide a simple, convenient way to relieve momentary stress and tension through tactile distraction.

Stress balls can be a useful tool but are most effective when combined with other techniques, especially for addressing complex or long-term stressors.