Many people who regularly struggle with stress will get a stress ball in order to help them exorcise their demons whenever their stress surfaces. The basic principle behind this is simple: when you get stressed, you often feel like hitting something which is unfortunately illegal and/or antisocial; so instead why not squeeze a ball and imagine it’s someone’s head about to explode?
This might seem like an effective and maybe even a fun way to combat stress but does it really work? Read on and we’ll look at whether or not you should get a stress ball.
The Problem With Stress Balls
The main issue with stress balls is that they are not founded in good science. While it might sometimes feel like you want to punch something when you’re very angry, in fact this is often the worst thing you can do (1). Studies show that the more you attempt to ‘vent’ anger, the angrier you are actually likely to become. The only thing worse than venting anger is to ruminate on problems that you have.
Squeezing a stress ball will only cause you to tense muscles, to increase your exertion and thus to actually ‘work yourself up’ further. Not drastically of course and it certainly is better than punching someone – but you’d be much better off practicing meditation or finding another way to distract yourself from stress.
There are other issues too. For instance, it’s hardly very convenient to be carrying a stress ball around with you 24/7 (people would think you were a psychopath) and it would look odd to pull a stress ball out of your bag every time you get at all frustrated… In shot then, they aren’t really practical either.
The Benefits of Stress Balls
But all this is not to say that stress balls are necessarily ‘useless’ or that they have no function. A stress ball can actually be a useful tool for strengthening the grip and training the forearm and they can also make for amusing gifts. Kept on an office desk they can be a lot of fun and certainly can make you feel better in the short term, even if they don’t actually combat stress.
If you’re serious about actually improving your stress though? Try something else…