Gel stress balls provide a therapeutic option for releasing stress or pent-up emotions, such as anxiety or anger. Along with helping to calm the mind, these squeezable balls help strengthen the muscles in the hand and arm, increasing the dexterity of hands and offering rehabilitative benefits for conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. Available in a variety of sizes and designs at affordable prices, gel stress balls are beneficial to people of many ages, including older children, teens, and adults.
Inside and Out
The inside of the ball is filled with a silicone-based gel, sometimes infused with glitter or micro beads for an enhanced tactile feel. Some gel feels squishier and softer, while other gels have a semi-solid feel and offer more resistance. A durable latex rubber casing allows you to squeeze, twist, pound, pull, and manipulate the ball, which will return to its original shape. Some balls are covered in smooth Lycra fabric while others feature an outer mesh covering causing a cool bubble-like effect when you squeeze the gel through multiple small openings. The size of the balls varies from two to three inches that can comfortably be held in one hand to large, oversized balls big enough to give both hands a simultaneous work out. They come in a range of styles and designs and are a great tool for easy stress management.
A Note of Caution
Although gel stress balls don't rupture easily, it is possible to break one under heavy pressure or repeated use over time. While many manufacturers claim their balls are non-toxic, the contents can stain clothing and may be harmful if ingested. Broken pieces of the ball also pose a choking hazard for children three years of age and under. If you notice areas of wear, or any gel leaking from the ball, dispose of it immediately and get a new stress ball.
Squeezing a gel ball can help relieve stress in several ways. First, the action of squeezing and releasing the ball can ease muscle tension in your fingers, palms, wrists, and forearms, and it can be a physical way for you to focus your stressful emotions such as anger, frustration, or anxiety. The ball can serve as a focal point for simple meditation exercises and depending on its design, it can be a whimsical and fun activity as well, letting you relieve stress with humor.
In addition to their stress relief benefits, gel balls can also help you build strength in your hands and wrists, a useful exercise for anyone who uses a computer frequently. Gel balls have also been used to treat arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome and by using a gel ball frequently, you can improve the blood circulation in your hands, wrists, and forearms.
While basic gel stress balls are just round, colored balls, there is a range of more unique and themed designs to choose from, including:
- Colors: Solid colors are popular, as are color changing gel balls that change shades when squeezed. Tie-dye and rainbow balls are also available.
- Shapes: Themed shapes are popular for stress balls, many of which are made with gel. Sports balls, globes, stars, hearts, happy faces, animals, and many other shapes are available.
- Texture: Smooth balls are the easiest to find, but texture balls with ridges, dots, or spikes are also available and can provide a mini hand massage when squeezed.
- Internal Decorations: Elaborate gel balls have unique fillings to make them more interesting. Common options include swirling colors, glitter, lights, and even small, whimsical objects like fish or a fortune telling cube.
- Aromatherapy: Some gel balls are treated with aromatherapy infusions to add an additional relaxing element to the ball. Peppermint, lavender, and cucumber melon are popular scents.
- Sounds: A whimsical option for a gel ball is one that makes noise when squeezed, such as a popping or smacking sound. This can help you focus your squeezes and is a fun way to relax.
When you choose a stress ball, opt for a design you like that is comfortable to hold. If you have a more whimsical ball, you will be more likely to use it and enjoy its effects more frequently.
Where to Find Gel Stress Balls
Gel-filled stress balls can be found in many office supply stores because they provide quick and convenient relief from work stress or can be used for entertainment during downtime. Other retailers specialize in the niche market of "fidget toys" and offer stress balls as therapeutic aids for kids and teens with special needs.
Don't confuse gel stress balls with foam stress balls, which are made with closed-cell polyurethane foam rubber. Gel balls have more of a liquid, squishy feel when squeezed and are less likely to cause fatigue in the fingers with repeated use.
- Neon Mesh Squishy Ball - Covered in nubby little spikes, different colored bubbles pop out through the mesh openings when you squeeze this ball.
- Bead Gel Stress Ball - Filled with individual gel beads, the material glides through your fingers and crunches when you squish it, creating a different and interesting tactile experience.
- Cyber Gel Stress Ball - This compact ball is filled with semi-solid gel for a firmer squeeze and is covered with smooth Lycra material.
This company specializes in stress balls and has a few products you won't find anywhere else:
- Atomic Relief Stress Ball - This oversized stress ball weighs two pounds and is filled with hundreds of individual gel beads squishing in all directions when you squeeze it with both hands.
- Squishy Gel Octopus - This character will look cute sitting on your desk. When you feel stressed, squeeze his gel and bead-filled head.
Recommended for Kids and Teens
According to National Autism Resources (NAR), gel stress balls can help students with autism and ADHD focus in the classroom. By quietly keeping their hands busy, they are able to better manage feelings of anxiety or anger and absorb more of the information teachers present to them.
The following gel stress balls were hand-picked by NAR for their durability, sensory attributes, and teacher feedback:
- IsoFlex Ball - This sturdy little ball is filled with micro beads, making it irresistible to squeeze and good for elementary aged kids, teens, and adults. A durable, double lined latex casing stands up well to constant squeezing while swirling earth tone colors make it aesthetically pleasing.
- Stress-less Gel Ball - Containing a semi-solid gel, this ball offers a slightly firmer resistance good for older students and those needing a ball with extra durability. A tough inner membrane prevents it from popping, and the outer cover is made from silky smooth nylon.
- Happy Face Gel Ball - These bright yellow, cheerful little balls smile back at you no matter how hard you squeeze, squash, or stretch them. Filled with a thick sugar gel, they have a different feel than other gel balls and provide a unique tactile experience for young and old alike.
Just like any stress management technique, for the greatest benefits you should use a gel ball regularly. To make the most of your gel ball, consider the following:
- Keep it in a location where you often feel stressed, such as in your office or at work. You can also keep spare balls in a purse, car, or briefcase so you are never without one when you feel the need to squeeze.
- When squeezing the ball, focus on your hand motion, the pressure you exert, and the changes in the ball's shape. This will help you center your emotions and relieve your stress more quickly.
- To help yourself focus on the exercise, count each squeeze until you reach a certain number, or hold each squeeze as you count the seconds. Deep breathing can also help you focus as you squeeze.
Gel stress balls can be an effective tool for helping you manage your stress. With simple squeezing exercises, you can squeeze away your frustrations and bring more relaxation into your day.