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Everything You Need to Know About Stress Balls

Updated on June 9, 2009
Gel Filled Stress Balls
Gel Filled Stress Balls

What is a Stress Ball

Stress balls are small therapeutic toys that you play with in your hands. They come in many shapes, sizes, and materials from beanbags, to small promotional toys you get at fairs, to fancy stress balls that are rated for different resistance levels to aid in physical therapy and strength building.  

Chinese Stress Balls
Chinese Stress Balls

How Do Stress Balls Work

Stress balls work in a couple of different ways. For people who are very kinesthetic – have a strong sense of touch and how things feel – good stress balls will help focus tremendously when involved in activities that require sitting still or having a lot of mental focus.

For stress, the action of tensing and releasing muscles in the hand provides stress relief. By tensing and relaxing, you flush out the muscle tension which aids in releasing stress from the body. You can do this repeated tensing and relaxing without the aid of stress balls, but many people find they are able to do it longer while playing with something.

From a therapeutic standpoint, stress balls help to build strength in the hands and related muscles. They are especially helpful for repeated use injuries such as carpal tunnel. Many physical and occupational therapists use and recommend a variety of stress balls in their practice.

In addition, specialized forms such as Chinese stress balls have been used for centuries to increase agility in the hands and to aid in meditation and spiritual practices. Chinese stress balls differ from what most people think of in that they are generally hard, come in pairs, and are meant to be rotated around the hands together. They are an excellent form of hand massage! Chinese Stress balls are available with chimes and without.

Fun Kid's Stress Balls
Fun Kid's Stress Balls

Make Your Own Stress Balls

These are a few methods to make your own stress balls

Corn Starch – Corn Starch provides an excellent filler for a stress ball. It has a good consistency and won't scrape the inside of the balloon like some sands can. You will want to use balloons for the outer skin – choose ones that are fairly thick as this will increase the longevity. The best shape is round with a fairly small size.

  1. Prepare the balloon by blowing it up some first and insert a small funnel
  2. Add corn starch to the balloon until it reaches your desired size – usually about 3 inches in diameter is good, but peoples hands come in different sizes!
  3. Once you have the size you like, let out air that is still in the balloon and tie it as close to the cornstarch as you can.
  4. If you want to decorate the balloon – especially if its for a child – make sure to use things that won't rub off or irritate the hands.

Use homemade play dough to fill balloons for stress balls -

There are lots of different recipes for homemade play dough, you can find several here.

I find that the recipes that include oil and need heating generally work better. Same rules for choosing balloons applies, only you may want to see if you can find wide neck varieties.

Because play dough can make a pretty big mess if the balloon pops, its best to triple or quadruple layer your balloons for this method.

  1. You will want someone to help as stuffing that second balloon is tricky and takes more than two hands!
  2. Prepare the homemade play dough – if you are heating it, allow it to cool for an hour before adding it to the balloons.
  3. Take 3 or 4 balloons and cut the ends off of all but one of them. The one with the end still on will be the last balloon you stuff.
  4. Add dough to the first balloon – the more you use, the more stiff your finished stress balls will be.
  5. Take that dough balloon and insert it open end first into the second balloon. You want to make sure the open end is completely covered by the second balloon.
  6. Repeat for the third balloon
  7. The last balloon is the tricky one, which is why having an extra set of hands will help! Wider neck balloons also help. Once you get the ball into the balloon that still has its tie off, tie it while getting as much extra air out as possible. Tie the last balloon as close as you can.

Always keep homemade stress balls away from pets and small children. Pets find them fun, but leave a huge mess for you to clean up!

Small children will choke on pieces of balloons if they break, and sadly many small children have been killed choking on balloons.

Koosh Stress Ball
Koosh Stress Ball

The Perfect Stress Relief Toy

Whether you use your own materials, or not, stress balls are an excellent addition to any office space. Modern cubicles aren't really designed for much movement, and a stress ball can help tremendously to reduce your stress at work!   

Try out several different types and shapes, you may be surprised to find the perfect stress ball for you wasn't what you expected!

What Are Some of Your Favorite Stress Balls?

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    • Temperance M profile image

      Temperance M 8 years ago from Oregon

      glad to be of service =) In general I think office meetings would be more productive if folks could play with more toys in them lol!

    • shareitt profile image

      shareitt 8 years ago

      What a fun hub and you'll be happy to know we're gonna make stress balls as part of an office motivation meeting :)

    • Temperance M profile image

      Temperance M 8 years ago from Oregon

      @scheng1 truer words have never been spoken!

    • profile image

      scheng1 8 years ago

      I think many people dearly love to customize stressball to look like their bosses.

    • profile image

      lzydzy 8 years ago

      My son has ADHD and fidgets constantly. We make the cornstarch ones and keep them everywhere. They help him keep his attention span at check and they are quiet to boot! One thing to keep in mind is not to use water balloons because they are too small and thin and break easily... make a big mess!

    • prasannasutrave profile image

      prasannasutrave 8 years ago from mumbai( india )

      Very nice and valuable hub.Keep it up.

    • HuckR profile image

      HuckR 8 years ago from Fredericksburg, VA.

      I've always loved the chinese stress balls, and they make cool noises to boot!

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 8 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I used to always fidget. My dad would get so mad at me and tell me to just sit down and keep still. If I didn't have anything in my hand like some squishy thing then I would be tapping my foot or drumming my fingers or something that would eventually get me swatted. Those things were a life saver! Now I have degenerative arthritis in my wrists that hurt my hands and I can't move my fingers like that anymore. I'm surprised that typing doesn't hurt more. I had chime balls too but that drove my former wife crazy so I had to revert to the squishy ball again.

    • Reed Talonario profile image

      Reed Talonario 8 years ago

      I used to throw a squishy one at people who annoyed me. I always felt better afterward.

    • bennygill profile image

      bennygill 8 years ago from United States

      I need some stress balls! good idea.

    • jazzuboo profile image

      jazzuboo 8 years ago from Queensland, Australia

      Those corn starch stress balls look great! I don't know if my kids need them so much, but I know they contribute to my wife getting stressed, so maybe they can make one for her to make up for it. Great hub!