A stress toy is a soft object that can easily fit into the palm of one’s hands and be squeezed to reduce stress, muscular and emotional tension as well. Stress toys are usually colorful and mostly come in the shape of a ball usually not more than 7 cm in diameter and are known as stress balls. However, sometimes, they are also available in the shape of cute animals, fruits and vehicles. They are made out of soft materials like high-density foam, polyurethane (This type of stress ball is 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) or soft rubber.
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 foot bag are marketed and used as stress balls.
Despite the name, many stress balls are not spherical. Many stress toys are molded in amusing shapes and screen or transfer printed with corporate logos. They are presented to employees and clients as promotional gifts.
Here’s how stress toys work:
Muscle tension occurs due to stress and it adds to the mental tension faced by a person. When one squeezes a stress toy, the muscles in the hand contract and relax.
Also, when one breathes deeply while squeezing and releasing the stress toy using their palms, stress gets released little by little. And this form of relieving stress is termed as progressive relaxation.
When one plays with stress toys, it helps to divert one’s attention from the source of the stress and this in turn provides stability and peace to the mind.
Stress toys help in improving blood circulation which in turn helps in curbing down toxins in the body and providing oxygen to the body.
Stress toys provide stimulation of the nerves in the hands. This is a similar technique to the Chinese system of acupressure.
Using stress toys also helps stimulate endorphins in the brain. Endorphins are also known as the happy hormones.
Stress toys are a staple of cubicles where repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome are common. Because of the many shapes now available, stress balls are generically known as stress relievers.