Therapist

What is a stress ball

Noun

She uses meditation as a way of reducing stress.

Hormones are released into the body in response to emotional stress.

She is dealing with the stresses of working full-time and going to school.

He talked about the stresses and strains of owning a business.

Carrying a heavy backpack around all day puts a lot of stress on your shoulders and back.

To reduce the amount of stress on your back, bend your knees when you lift something heavy.

The ship’s mast snapped under the stress of high winds.

measuring the effects of stresses on the material

Verb

The union stressed the need for stricter safety standards.

The risks involved in the procedure should be stressed.

Some people stress the second syllable of “harassment,” while others stress the first.

When she said, “We need lots of money,” she stressed the word “lots.”

It’s not an important decision and it isn’t worth stressing over.

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A stress ball in the shape of a globe

A stress ball or hand exercise ball is a malleable toy, usually not more than 7 cm in diameter, which is squeezed in the hand and manipulated by the fingers, ostensibly to relieve stress and muscle tension or to exercise the muscles of the hand. Patrick Hummel is widely understood to have created the stress ball in central Indiana in the mid-1980s.

Despite the name, many stress balls are not spherical. Some are molded in amusing shapes, and pad- or transfer-printed with corporate logos. They may be presented to employees and clients of companies as promotional gifts. Because of the many non-spherical shapes now available, stress balls are generically known as stress relievers.

Types

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A selection of foam-rubber stress relievers

There are several different types of stress balls that originate from many different countries. The most common type of stress ball in America is the “bean bag” type, commonly known as a “Hacky Sack”. In Australia, most common are the foam type, which prevents stress through resistance from squeezing the ball. Chinese-form balls are known as the Baoding ball; unlike others, these are not squeezable as they are solid and come in pairs, allowing users to roll them together to make a soothing sound and a smooth sensation feeling in one’s hands.[1] They come in many cute shapes and sizes too.

This file represents a type of stress toy in the shape of a football

Some stress relievers are made from closed-cell polyurethane foam rubber. These are made by injecting the liquid components of the foam into a mold. The resulting chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide bubbles as a byproduct, which in turn creates the foam.[2]

Stress balls, especially those used in physical therapy, can also contain gel of different densities inside a rubber or cloth skin. Another type uses a thin rubber membrane surrounding a fine powder. The latter type can be made at home by filling a balloon with baking soda. Some balls similar to a footbag are marketed and used as stress balls.

See also

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References

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stress balls

Stress balls were originally intended to be used for remedying stress and tension but with their increasing popularity as a stress relief tool, it seems that squeezing it may have other health benefits. Studies show that when you squeeze a stress ball, your nerves and muscles stimulate and contract which makes them stronger. The strength improves the overall nervous system, which reduces essential hormones and can control your stress levels.

Some of the benefits: 

  • Relieve arthritis pains
  • Enhance emotional stability 
  • Reduce anxiety and stress
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve concentration and creativity
  • Strengthen muscles
  • Increased positive energy 
  • Improve sleep

stress balls

Stress Balls May Improve Blood Circulation 

Many doctors recommend using stress balls for improving blood circulation. Studies show that squeezing a ball can raise your heart rate and increase the oxygen levels in your brain. As a result, your heart will pump harder and thus provide better blood circulation. The better your circulation, the lower the risk for stroke, heart attack and high blood pressure. Stress balls also help prevent the development of hypertension and possible heart disease. 

stress balls

More Benefits 

Stress balls are small enough to fit in your pocket, and they are also fairly inexpensive. If you use your stress ball on a regular basis, you may even begin to notice a decrease in your tension. When you have an anxiety attack, your brain starts to get hyperventilating. This causes your body to release adrenaline, which causes your heart rate to increase. By using and squeezing a stress ball, you can relax your mind and take a moment to think about happy thoughts.

stress balls

Ways to Use Stress Balls

By simply squeezing stress balls regularly you can tone your muscles. Regular exercise will help to strengthen the muscles of your hands and wrists. Many individuals keep one of these balls at their work. Regardless of your profession, if you feel tired, bored or irritated you can use one of these balls to keep your hands occupied and your mind at rest.

  1. One of the main ways to use a stress ball is to place it on a surface and roll the ball by curling your fingers towards your palm, hold for a few seconds and release your fingers.
  2. Another popular way is to place a ball between your hands while keeping your arms in a vertical position. Then press for 5 seconds and relax.
  3. The full grip method is our favourite. If you feel extra stressed out, hold and squeeze a ball as hard as you can for up to 5 seconds, then relax. 

reduce stress

Final Thoughts

While stress balls can help with anxiety, stress, blood circulations and more, it is important to remember the results are temporary. In order to find the right balance and improve your overall health, there are many other things that you have to consider. Owning and using a stress ball can not prevent illnesses, diseases or depression, but it can improve those conditions. It is one of the most powerful mindfulness products that can help individuals deal with their condition.

Stress ball

Stress balls are a great way to relieve stress.

Image Credit:

vkbhat/iStock/GettyImages

Stress balls are small balls or objects filled with a malleable gel or clay that are held in the palm of your hand. The act of repeatedly squeezing the ball may help to release tension and relieve stress.

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The balls can also be used as a physical therapy tool to help strengthen the muscles of the hand and wrist. Consult with a medical professional before treating stress or injuries on your own.

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Tip

Stress balls help to relieve stress. Exercises with stress balls may also help to strengthen muscles in the hand and forearm.

Using Stress Balls for Relaxation

Decreasing stress and tension can help to improve the quality of your life by promoting better sleep, warding off illness and enhancing a general feeling of well-being.

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Squeezing the ball activates the muscles of your hand and wrist; releasing the grip allows the muscles to relax. The repeated pattern of grip and release helps to alleviate tension and stress, and it is an activity you can do at your desk without anyone working or studying around you.

You can continue the relaxation beyond your hand and forearm. Move through your entire body, one muscle at a time. Squeeze and tighten the muscle, then allow it to relax.

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You can also give yourself a hand or foot massage to help relieve stress. The University of Colorado recommends rolling your feet over a golf ball to relieve tension, but you can also try this technique with your stress ball depending on the firmness of the ball.

If squeezing the stress ball isn’t enough, try some other stress-relieving activities when you have time for a break such as a short meditation, deep breathing or yoga poses. Taking a walk or getting some sun may also help to relieve anxiety.

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Strengthening and Rehabilitation Exercises

The muscles in your hands and wrist can become weak from numerous conditions, such as overuse, arthritis or a fracture or sprain. It may be caused by an injury higher up on your arm, such as your elbow. Certain medical conditions and treatments may also cause weakness, including fistula and chemotherapy-related numbness.

Squeezing a stress ball can help to rehabilitate your hand and improve grip strength, advises Performance Orthopedics. Hold the ball in the palm of your hand and squeeze it as tight as possible and release. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions.

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Your doctor or physical therapist may instruct you to do this exercise on both arms or just the affected arm. You can also place the ball on the table and press your fingers into the ball.

The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center notes that you can also use the ball for your feet and toes. Place the ball on the floor and curl your toes into it and push on the stress ball with the balls of your feet.

Warning

Avoid stress balls that have an added scent or are made of polyurethane foam. The Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark found that children’s toys made of the same substance emitted high levels of harmful and carcinogenic compounds, including dimethylaminoethanol and methylene chloride.

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