How Stress Balls Can Help You To Juggle Your Life
What are the stress factors in your life? Maybe your upstairs neighbours are keeping fit during lockdown with Zumba videos on YouTube. Maybe you’ve had a lifetime’s worth of Zoom calls with kids and pets bouncing round in the background. Or maybe it’s just the common garden variety of stress from balancing family, work and home.
Whatever makes you feel tense, stress balls can help. If you haven’t got one to hand, why not try this? Clench your fist, really tight. Feel your fingernails on your skin. Notice what your tendons look like and how the skin stretches over your knuckles. Are your thumbs inside or outside of your fist? Hold for five, four three, two, one… and release.
You might not have realised it, but that was a tiny lesson in mindfulness. By redirecting our focus to the present moment, we can tune in to how we’re really feeling physically and mentally. It allows us to break thought spirals and regain small moments of refreshing calm.
At MindPanda, we believe that our Stress Balls can be so much more than than a simple stress reliever . And we hope you’ll think so too. Ready to deep-dive into the world of squishy little stress-relievers that empower you to be better? Here we go.
How were stress balls invented?
Ever heard of Baoding balls? They were invented in the Ming dynasty in China as meditation aids and for stress relief. They were made from metal and rolled in the hand, rather than squeezed.
Baoding balls work in pairs. You hold both of them in one hand and try to move them around. This promotes focus and helps you to move your thoughts away from usual preoccupations. With practice, you can learn to rotate the Baoding balls without letting them touch.
Chinese doctors sometimes recommend these stress balls to patients suffering from tiredness. They believe that they activate different pressure points in the palm and promote good energy flow.
Nowadays, you can find many beautiful versions of Baoding balls. Hollow versions that chime when struck. Jade, agate and marble sets that are wonderfully smooth to handle. And beautiful, engraved ones.
Fast-forward to the 1980s and there’s a whole different inventor’s story. Alex Carswell was a 29-year-old TV writer who received an angry phone call from his boss. He got so worked up, that he threw a magic marker across the room and damaged a photo of his mother. Wishing to limit future property damage, he instead invented the squishy stress balls we know and love today.
Since the 80s, there have been many more incarnations, including the mindfulness stress balls from MindPanda.
What are the benefits of stress balls?
Stress balls are a marvellous invention. Squidgy, flexible and always there when you need them. But how exactly do they help us with stress?
The action of tensing and releasing our muscles dissolves tension. Don’t take our word for it – try it out. And it isn’t only Chinese doctors who recommend stress balls. They’re also used by physiotherapists in the UK as an aid for rehabilitation and injury prevention. That’s because they’re great for improving grip strength, dexterity, muscular tone and motor skills.
Do your thoughts ever go round and round in circles? It happens to everyone, so we’re guessing the answer is ‘yes’. By focusing on something outside of your mind, you can interrupt thought spirals and refocus on the present. After all, mindfulness is all about staying in the present and rebalancing our minds.
Stress balls can help to build a mindfulness routine and keep stress under control. That’s why we invented the MindPanda stress balls. You’ll find some fun exercises you can try in a section below.
Psychology research has found that people need a particular level of stimulation in order to concentrate. For example, some people like total quiet. Others prefer bustle and background noise.
The right level of stimulation even changes during the day and depending on the task at hand. We all make changes like putting on headphones, walking around or putting the kettle on to regulate our environment to our liking. When we can’t do that, a fidget item like a stress ball can help us to stay focused.
What’s different about MindPanda stress balls?
Our MindPanda stress balls are perfect for relaxing. They come with smooth Lycra covering and a variable level of hardness, for that perfect level of squish. And they smell great.
Did you know that your nose is connected to the part of your brain that deals with emotion? That’s why fragrances can produce such powerful memories. Try it out: can you think of an orange without remembering the smell? And some smells can even reduce anxiety and stress.
Each of the MindPanda stress balls has its own delicious fragrance:
Jasmine, for alertness and better mood.
Research has shown that it can lead to an uplifted mood and help with depressed thoughts. The laboratory study with human volunteers showed that the smell of jasmine oil produced both physical and mental benefits, compared with a placebo. It’s a tiny flower that really packs a punch.
Peppermint, for motivation and stamina.
Smelling peppermint invigorates the brain. And it’s been linked to cognitive stamina and motivation. It’s just the thing when you need a natural pick-me-up.
Lemon, for more energy and alertness.
If you’re looking for a boost, ditch the coffee and have a sniff of lemon instead. It’s a true super fruit that can calm anxiety and anger.
MindPanda stress balls also provide verbal cues to encourage positive thinking. They offer a combination of mindfulness, physical stress relief, aromatherapy scents and positive messages. All to set you on the path to a more positive way of living.
You asked, we listened. New for 2020, we have stress ball sets with a choice of mindful, motivational and empowering messages:
‘The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.’ We love this quote by Alice Walker. Empowerment, self-love and gratitude are three concepts that you can build your life on. And our empowering stress balls are the perfect little reminder for every day. They come with the captions ‘purpose fuels passion’, ‘be unique – be yourself’ and ‘count your blessings’.
‘The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little’. Jon Kabat-Zinn was onto something there, we think. Mindfulness is a wonderful antidote to the stress of everyday life. And our classic blue mindfulness stress balls are there to anchor you to the present. They come with the captions ‘as you think you become’, ‘be. here. now.’ and ‘count your blessings’. And they make the case for mindfulness, positivity and gratitude.
Fuel your motivation
Our motivational stress balls remind you that confidence, motivation and positivity are key to keep on moving forward. Because sometimes all it takes is a change in your thought patterns to change your day. They have the captions ‘anything is possible’, ‘dream bigger – do bigger’ and ‘what you focus on grows’. What will you make possible today?
Want to know more? Just head over to our product page for details on all three sets.
How can I use my stress balls?
There are lots of ways that stress balls can help you relax. Here are a few of our favourites:
The raisin technique
The raisin exercise is a mindfulness classic. Why not give it a go with your MindPanda stress balls?
- Hold a stress ball between your fingers. Imagine you’ve never seen it before. Give it your full attention. What colour is and what shape?
- Start moving it around and feel how squishy it is. You could even close your eyes to focus better.
- Hold it close to your ear. Does the fabric or gel make a sound when you squeeze it?
- Give it a good sniff. What does it smell like? Do you start to feel differently if you go on smelling it?
Pay attention to your breath during this exercise. Breathe deeply and slowly, from the diaphragm. How do you feel now?
Learn to juggle
It’s a great metaphor for life and good fun, too. If you have kids around, it’s a great lockdown boredom-buster. So how do you learn to juggle?
Start with one ball and pass it from hand to hand. Step up to two balls. Toss one straight up and when it reaches the top of its arc, toss the other one. Keep going until you feel comfortable.
Adding the third ball is the tricky bit. Start with two balls in one hand and the third one in the other. Toss the first one up and pass the second one from your right to your left hand (or the other way around if you’re left-handed).
When the first is at its peak, throw the second one and pass the third one to your left hand. Catch the first one and throw ball three once ball two is at its peak. Then rinse and repeat.
If that sounds confusing, try practising with lighter objects that don’t bounce or roll away. Good luck! (And if juggling gets too hard, a good game of ‘hot potato’ is just as much fun.)
Sometimes, we just need a break. There’s that moment everyone can recognise when things get overwhelming. Having a mindfulness SOS ready and waiting can help you take a few precious moments for yourself.
Keep your stress balls with you, on your desk or in your bag. When you need a minute, take them out and get started.
Hold or squeeze your stress balls, while you take deep, relaxing breaths. Breathe in slowly, hold, breathe out slowly, pause. Focus on the sensations of your breath and your touch. With time, you’ll start to associate your stress balls with relaxation.
How will you use your stress balls? We’d love to know. Please drop us a line in the comments or leave us a review. They also make a great gift, Secret Santa surprise or stocking filler. Stay well and stay safe.
Stress balls were invented to relieve stress. But ours can do even more. They can help you to break negative thought patterns and literally smell the flowers. Don’t take our word for it – try it out.
Stress balls are also good for boosting blood circulation and can help with the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis. They’re even used by physiotherapists as a treatment aid.
Yes, absolutely. They work particularly well as part of regular mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is staying aware of the present. Your senses are engaged by squeezing feeling, hearing the stress ball, which is why this is helpful.
Most stress balls are made of foam – However, MindPanda stress balls are filled with a relaxing gel core. They’re non-toxic and BPA-free. In fact, each ball has its own level or firmness – soft, medium and hard.
Mindfulness means to focus on the present moment. To be fully present and aware of what’s happening in our bodies and minds right now. The benefits of mindfulness include reduced anxiety and stress.
Stress balls can act as a reminder and a prompt to stop what you’re doing and take a moment for mindfulness. And they’re small enough to pop in your bag or put on your desk, so that they’re never far away.
Focusing on physical sensations, like your breath or the squish of a stress ball, is also a great route to mindfulness. That means they help us to break unwelcome thought patterns and negativity.
Everyone is different, so choosing the right stress ball for you will depend on what you are looking for.
MindPanda have designed a stress ball that suits everyone and helps too tackle stress at its core – the mind. Each back has three levels of firmness – soft – medium – hard. Each ball has its own unique fragrance to help clear the mind and is surrounded by inspiring themes to help you build healthy mental habits.
We hope you enjoyed this article and would love to hear your thoughts and experiences with using stress balls. Have they worked for you? Do you prefer an alternative method?
Check out our free Resources page for lots of other great ideas on how to become more mindful, including some guided meditations, mindful colouring PDFS and much more.