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Feeling a little nervous or anxious lately? Or maybe you get stressed out almost every day because of school or work?
If your answer to these questions is yes, then we have a simple solution for you—stress balls!
Oftentimes, people hold and conceal their emotional pain for one of two reasons:
If either sounds like you, then you don’t need to hold back anymore. You can use stress balls to release all of your negative energy and tension.
In this post, we’ve compiled the five best stress balls for anxiety and nervousness. We’ve categorized them based on their mental and health benefits, in accordance with consumer ratings and reviews.
But before we get to our top picks, let’s first discuss the benefits of using stress balls and how they actually work.
Let’s get to it!
(Side note: Want a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety? Then try writing these 35 mindfulness journaling prompts to live more in the present moment).
What You Will Learn
- Don't have time to read the entire review?
- Why Stress Balls? Top Stress Ball Benefits
- How Do Stress Balls Work?
- 5 Stress Balls for Anxiety and Nervousness
Don't have time to read the entire review?
If you're a busy person who doesn't have time to read this entire review, we've simplified everything. Here is a table to show you a quick rating of the best stress balls for anxiety and nervousness.
Best Choice For…
Best Stress Ball for Hand Exercises
Best Stress Ball for Motivation
Best Stress Ball for Grip Strengthening
Best Stress Ball with Handy String
Why Stress Balls? Top Stress Ball Benefits
1. Releases muscle tension.
Stress balls help your muscles relax and release stress, tension, anxiety, and negative energy. By relieving stress and tension from your muscles, you can improve your quality of life by getting better sleep, fighting potential illnesses, and enhancing your overall sense of well-being.
Stress balls are a great tool because they actually help you reduce the physical tension that is created in your body as a result of life's stressors. While stress is a psychological response to a situation, it manifests physically in your body, so combating those physical symptoms is a key part of relieving tension.
Squeezing squishy stress balls activates your hand and wrist muscles. Then, once you release your grip, your muscles relax. This repeated action of gripping and releasing reduces muscle tension and can easily be done at your desk without bothering or distracting anyone working around you.
When you feel your stress increasing during the day, or if you are going through a particularly rough time, it is best to have some stress toys around to alleviate these negative feelings. Further, stress balls can be used to help prevent muscle tension if you feel like that is going to be an issue for you in the near future.
2. Diverts your attention.
When you turn your focus to the stress ball, you stop thinking about the things that are bringing you stress and anxiety. It is not only your body that is being relaxed, but also your mind. When you pay attention to something stressful, you may notice that your heart starts beating faster, your mind starts racing, and your muscles tense up. While there are a lot of ways to divert your attention from stress, such as exercising or talking to a friend, these options aren’t always feasible in the moment.
This is why stress balls are often associated with work. Offices are a primary source of stress for a lot of people, but you can’t just start playing a movie on your computer or call your best friend to focus on something else.
Rather, you can take out your stress ball and squeeze it tightly to help you focus on your breath and your muscles in order to help relax your body. Experts have stated that the repetitive action of gripping and releasing the ball mimics the calming effect one gets from practicing meditation and yoga.
3. Stimulates your nerves.
The pressure you exert when squeezing a stress ball activates the stimulation of the nerves in your hands that pass along signals to the limbic region of your brain, which is responsible for your feelings and emotions. The nerve stimulation offers an acupressure effect, which is a phenomenon where the stimulation of one part of your body impacts other parts of your body.
One nerve in particular, your vagus nerve, is connected to every organ in your body. Stimulating this nerve helps relieve tension, fatigue, anxiety, and more. The word “vagus” means “wandering,” which refers to this nerve's ability to reach from your brain to your intestines and many other vital organs. It creates a feedback loop between the brain and the rest of your body, sending and receiving information about your health and well-being.
Professionals believe that a connection lies between anxiety and depression and the malfunction of the vagus nerve. This means that stimulating this nerve is one way you can possibly teach your body to relax. Researchers have found that meditation can change the activity of the vagus nerve, and because the repetitive action of squeezing and releasing a stress ball imitates the calming effect you gain from meditation, this suggests that using a stress ball can stimulate the vagus nerve as well.
The nerves in your hand are also connected to some parts of your brain that control your emotions. The stimulation we discussed above triggers the release of endorphins—the hormones you need to feel stress-free. Squeezing a stress ball encourages the release of endorphins, which are hormones that act as a sedative and a painkiller. This results in a calming effect and helps improves your mood.
The less stress you have in your life overall, the better your mood will typically be. This means that if you are able to combat your stress on a regular basis by simply using therapeutic balls for hands, this one small action in your life can have a large, sweeping impact.
4. Enhances focus and concentration.
A research study indicates that using stress balls can improve focus, attention, and concentration among a group of sixth-grade students. Students attributed their increased attention and concentration to a number of impacts that the stress balls had on them. For example, some reported that they stopped engaging in distracting, fidgeting habits, such as biting their nails, when they were able to use stress balls.
Others noted that some of their habits (such as tapping their feet or clicking their pens) would stop when they had stress balls, which was beneficial to those around them because their previous habits were distracting.
For students and adults who like to move around, using a stress ball offers them a way to move that is comforting, without having to engage in distracting behavior. So, not only does a stress ball increase the focus of the person using it, but it can also improve the ability of those around them to concentrate on the task at hand.
People who have used stress balls—including the students in this study—have often found them to be so effective in enhancing their focus that they want to continue to use them on a regular basis after simply trying them out.
5. Treats certain hand injuries.
Stress balls are not just stress relievers. They also help you exercise your hands and fingers to avoid certain conditions like arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome. The muscles in your hands and wrists can also weaken over time due to overuse, leading to these conditions. Alternatively, injuries that occur higher up on your arm (like an elbow injury) could cause you to limit the use of the muscles in that hand, leading to muscle atrophy. Finally, certain medical conditions or treatments can also cause muscle weakness, such as fistulas or numbness due to chemotherapy treatment.
Squeezing a stress ball can aid in rehabilitation in your hand muscles and improve your grip. It is best if you squeeze the ball in your palm as tight as possible and then slowly release your grip. Do three sets of 10 reps twice a day to regain some strength.
If you are seeing a doctor or physical therapist for your hand injury, they may suggest that you use your stress ball with both of your arms or just the one that has been injured. Another way people use stress balls to heal from injuries is to put the ball on a table and press your fingers as hard as you can into the ball, holding the position for 10 seconds before releasing it.
Some doctors even suggest that patients use stress balls for their toes and feet. This can be done by putting the ball on the floor and curling your toes into it, then pushing on the stress ball with the balls of your feet.
Now that you know the benefits of stress balls, let's look at how these stress toys actually work.
How Do Stress Balls Work?
Our brains are composed of two channels: a sensory channel and an intellectual channel. Sensory is what we see, hear, feel, taste and smell, while intellectual is what we use to make sense out of our sensory experiences.
A stress ball activates the sensory channel in your brain (because you feel your muscles contract and relax as you squeeze it), which takes away any excess negative energy that is being used by your intellectual channel.
Stress balls primarily work by allowing your intellectual brain to channel your thoughts into something more physical (sensory). When your mind focuses on the physical action of using the stress ball, you forget about the things that make you feel stressed, anxious, and nervous. For example, let's say you just got out of a stressful meeting in which you learned that you have to take on an additional project, even though you already feel overloaded at work.
Going back to your desk and using your stress ball after the meeting allows you to take some time to not think about the additional work that has just been put on your plate, and instead take a moment to just breathe.
Stress is typically accompanied by muscle tension, which adds to the detrimental mental impact that stress already has on you. If you breathe deeply as your hand muscles contract and relax while you're using a stress ball, you will begin to experience progressive relaxation. This means that each time you squeeze your stress ball, you release a little more tension from the muscles throughout your body. This occurs gradually until your body is in a greater state of relaxation.
Doing hand exercises is also an easy way to practice psychological flexibility. Pushing your boundaries of mental and physical discomfort, even if it is ever so slightly, is a key step in improving at both physical and mental obstacles, and for overcoming life's stressors. It can remind you of your abilities while helping you push your limits.
Stress can be a significant barrier to many things in life. As people spend time and energy thinking, worrying about, or over-analyzing situations, it is easy to lose sight of the ability to take action and combat the source of stress. However, when using physical force to squeeze a stress ball, the opposite is true.
Stress occurs, and then physical action is taken. This serves as a reminder that people can have a different type of relationship with discomfort and sacrifice—one that shows the power of making mindful, deliberate decisions in the moment that can have a meaningful impact on your psychological health.
This is also the reason why recreational activities are good stress relievers. They distract your mind from thinking about the things that give you emotional suffering, and challenge your body with positive stress in a limited environment. The important thing to point out here is that one of the most effective ways to reduce psychological stress is to actually increase it in a physically controlled and purposeful manner.
People can be more effective during stressful times by learning how to relax and focus while under pressure. Using a stress ball introduces you to this manageable amount of stress—both to your mind and your body—in a controlled fashion.
Let's look at some of the best unique stress ball options that are on the market today.
5 Stress Balls for Anxiety and Nervousness
1. Best Overall Stress Balls for Anxiety and Stress Relief
This is the best overall option. It is perfect for both children and adults, as well as those who want to try occupational therapy. The Friendly Swede Egg-Shaped Hand Exercise Balls are great for stretching your fingers after typing on a keyboard for a while, helping prevent arthritis pain, or simply relieving stress.
The egg shape of these stress balls also offers a great tool to train the muscles in your forearms, fingers, and hands by doing some easy exercises. They come in various sizes for anyone in the family and come with a guide to help you pick the exercise that best matches your needs.
For example, the medium-sized eggs are ideal for grip and forearm strengthening exercises, which can be great for you if you are a beginner weightlifter but suffering from a weak grip. The smaller size is ideal for adults trying to train the smaller muscles in their fingers.
Keeping the eggs in your desk at work allows you to take a quick break whenever you need it to refresh your mind. These exercise balls are made from thermoplastic rubber, so they can keep their original shape after being used repeatedly.
They are highly tear-resistant and toxic-free, meaning they are durable and safe for both adults and children. These stress balls can help you feel calm, reduce anxiety, and improve focus and attention. With their lifetime warranty, you don't have to worry about overuse damaging your product.
- Great for the whole family.
- It comes in different colors and sizes.
- It comes with an exercise guide.
- Sticky, so these balls tend to get dirty.
- Some find these to be too stiff.
- Users feel their hands are coated after use.
2. Best Stress Ball for Hand Exercises
This is the best stress ball for hand exercises. It will help you strengthen your grip, joints, and muscles. The Dura-Grip gel stress ball is made out of durable and premium quality materials, while still being both affordable and effective. Users love this stress tool for both physical and color therapy.
If you are trying to reduce fidgeting, these balls are a great tool as well. They create a calming action for your hands to engage in that won't distract other people, but will let you focus on the task at hand. These balls are small, durable, and have the perfect amount of resistance.
- Very durable.
- Perfect for muscle strengthening.
- Can be washed with soap and water.
- Too small for big hands.
- Some find the material to be too hard to squeeze.
- Some say these balls make their hands smell like ashes after using them.
This is the best option for a stress ball if you are looking for something to increase your motivation. It has motivational statements and quotes written on it to help you get through those tough times that require you to use a stress ball in the first place. This option also makes a great, unique gift idea for friends and co-workers.
These durable and soft stress balls are offered in six different colors to suit anyone's style. They are strong enough for users to squeeze, but not so tough that they may lead to injury. Each order includes a set of three balls that are each 2.5 inches in diameter.
- Offers inspiring, motivational quotes.
- Great for gifting.
- Strong and durable.
- The words in the quotes wear off after extended use.
- Some find these balls are too big.
- Made out of foam, which is of a lesser quality than gel balls.
4. Best Stress Balls for Grip Strengthening
This is the best option for grip strengthening. The product comes with three therapy balls—one each of soft, medium, and firm—so you can use the ball that correlates to your current strength. The variety of resistance levels also makes this a great stress tool for anyone in your household to use for progressive training.
These balls work by strengthening your hand and finger grip. This effective training method helps to strengthen your hands, forearms, and grip with easy exercises, which will also help reduce the pressures of your everyday life.
- Great for grip strengthening.
- Come in three progressive resistance levels.
- Will keep their shape after repeated use.
- May leave your hands sticky after use.
- Some find the softest option to still be too firm.
- Dirt and hair easily sticks to them.
5. StringyBall Stress Ball on a String
This is the best stress ball that comes with a handy string. This allows users to ensure they don't drop the ball when they are using it. It is a great tool for both adults and kids who are experiencing stress, carpal tunnel syndrome, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, arthritis, or autism. It is also a helpful tool to use in rehabilitation, recovery from a stroke, and grip strength.
This is a great tool for people who have high anxiety levels, as it can help settle those anxious thoughts. It comes with video exercise demos so you can pick which exercises work best for your unique condition and use the balls properly.
- Comes with a string to wrap around your wrist.
- Comes with video demonstrations.
- Non-toxic and odor-free.
- Some find the string to be useless.
- Too firm for people who have a lot of pain.
- Too small for people with larger hands.
These stress balls are our top picks when it comes to style, quality, and design. With the list we have provided above, we hope that we were able to help you choose which one best fits your needs.
Our winner for the best stress and anxiety stress balls, however, is the Friendly Swede Hand Grip Strength Trainer for its overall ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and nervousness.
Finally, if you want a simple way to reduce your stress and anxiety, then try writing these 35 mindfulness journaling prompts to live more in the present moment.