How Well Do Stress Balls REALLY Work?
Your squishy Inq is a lovable stress-relieving companion made from the finest polyurethane; perfect for compressing, cuddling, and tossing around with your friends! In these interesting times, you might be wondering: sure it’s adorable, but can your Inq squish really reduce stress? Studies show some surprising results; soft stress relievers are effective in many ways, and a little less so in others.
The modern stress ball was invented by frustrated TV writer, Alex Carswell, who threw a magic marker at a photo of his mom (sorry, mom!) during an argument with his boss. He felt better, but realized that a shattered glass frame and colorful office mess weren’t a great way to release the stress; and voila, the polyurethane stress ball was born. In fact, they were originally meant to be thrown, not squeezed: early stress balls had a microchip and tiny speaker, so when they hit a wall, the ball made a sound like shattering glass.
There’s no doubt that the use of a stress ball has some solid psychological benefits.
A 2006 study showed that sixth graders using stress balls were able to focus twice as well as those who were just fidgeting. And when the sixth graders took a writing test after using the stress balls, the mean writing score of the class increased from 73% to 83%; and a student with ADHD experienced their score increase by an astonishing 27%! Another study demonstrated that the use of stress balls during surgery (by the patient, obviously) significantly reduced patient anxiety and even perceived pain, which is pretty fantastic for something so easy to get your hands on, so to speak.
Researchers have also shown that stress balls are just as effective as fancy computerized handgrips for isometric training exercises that are used to reduce blood pressure. But they’re not miracle devices; a physiological study done at the University of Wisconsin showed that stress ball use had no direct affect on a number of measurable physical factors – heart rate, blood pressure, or galvanic skin response (galvanic skin response is elevated in stressful situations). So squeezing little Inq will probably help you feel better, but you may want to combine squishy therapy with deep breathing, walks in the park, and a healthy diet – whatever your favorite strategies are for making the world seem calm and peaceful.
And by the way, your Inq squish is also a miracle of chemical engineering: that polyurethane is made from polyols (an alcohol made from sugar), foaming agents, catalysts, surfactants, and fire retardants. Polyurethane can also be found in workout clothes and superhero outfits: that’s right, spandex is a form of polyurethane, too!
Complex construction and psychological benefits aside, all of this is really water – or Inq – under the bridge. Because the real purpose of your Inq Squish is fun!