Best Stress Balls

Updated July 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

29 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
318 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best stress balls

Last Updated July 2020

Life has its ups and downs, and no matter which way you are moving, it can be stressful. The body builds up tension and, if not released, you may start losing sleep and focus, and your health may suffer. Sometimes, all it takes to get you back on track is a little meditative fist clenching.

Whether it's a work crisis, a homework meltdown, or a personal struggle, a stress ball is designed to help ease you through difficult situations. The best ones are durable, come in a color or shape that you like, and have a satisfying resistance. Some stress balls even have a few “bells and whistles,” such as texture and fragrance.

If you'd like to learn how beneficial the right stress ball can be to your overall well-being, keep reading. If you already know how helpful these affordable little therapeutic devices can be and want to hone in on the top models, consider the stress balls that we spotlight in this article.

In the '90s, stress balls became a popular marketing tool that were offered as advertising giveaways at a variety of functions.

Main areas of focus

When searching for a stress ball, there are three main areas to focus on: size, firmness, and durability.

Size

Although the size of a stress ball is fairly standard, roughly 2 to 2.5 inches in diameter, shop carefully. Some models are smaller because they are designed for promotional use, and while they may be suitable for a child, an adult may be disappointed. Going in the other direction, there are a few stress balls designed to be used with two hands. Often, these products are classified as toys rather than therapeutic items.

If you want a stress ball you can grab, pinch, and pull with both hands, you'll have to look a little harder for that type, but they do exist.

Firmness

This is the crucial element. A stress ball that is too firm to squeeze could increase frustration or even damage your hands. A stress ball that is too soft and easy to squeeze could reduce your satisfaction. It may take a little trial and error to find the right firmness, but the materials inside can give you a clue. For example, clay is much harder to squeeze than polyurethane (think Nerf).

Durability

As with any product, you want to purchase something that will last. In most instances, a simple stress ball that is made from polyurethane would be suitable, but when you get into stress balls with gel sealed inside, you will want to make sure that the outer material will not easily rip or tear.

DID YOU KNOW?

Although they are called "balls," many stress balls are not round in shape.

Features

After you've found a stress ball that fits easily in your hand and has the desired level of firmness, there are a few other features to consider. These elements can increase (or decrease) your experience, though none should be considered deal-breakers.

Shape

Because they can be molded with polyurethane, stress balls can come in almost any shape imaginable, from cubes to dolphins to footballs to pigs. In most instances, shape has more to do with how the item looks on your desktop than how effective it is.

Quantity

Although you can purchase a single stress ball, they often come in packs of three, six, or twelve. If you desire more than one, or if you would like to give them as gifts, look for a pack that has the number of stress balls you desire.

Color

Color can affect your mood. If you do not like the color red, stay away from red stress balls, as they could further aggravate you. Or, get a red stress ball so you can feel the satisfaction of squishing it over and over again.

Motivational messages

If you’re using your stress ball as a means to relax, something that contains a simple motivational message (like "Choose happy”) could help you more easily settle into the right state of mind.

Texture

Some stress balls have a distinct texture. If you’re looking for something other than polyurethane foam, don't fret — you can get balls that are covered in fabric so they feature a different texture.

Aromatherapy

If pleasant aromas help you relax, look for something that releases a soothing fragrance while you squeeze.

Canister

Some stress balls come with a canister for convenient storage and transportation. If that sounds desirable, make sure the stress ball you choose has this bonus feature.

Other fun features

Once you leave the realm of the typical stress ball, almost anything goes. Though rare, some stress balls feature electronics with lights and sounds to engage your senses. Some are designed to create ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) sounds, which intensify the soothing qualities of squeezing. Some are actually manufactured to render a more satisfying throw, pound, or punch. If the average stress ball isn't doing it for you, look around to find other options.

There is evidence that stress ball-type objects were used as early as BCE 206. In the United States, however, they didn't become popular commercial items until the '80s.

Stress ball prices

The price range for stress balls is remarkably consistent. At the low end, you might spend $8 for a dozen polyurethane party favors that are around 2 inches in size.

At the high end, you might spend $16 or $18 on a set of three durable, cloth-covered gel balls with a pleasing smell and a variety of affirmations written on them.

In other words, price should not be a major determining factor when purchasing a stress ball. Instead, focus on elements such as size, firmness, shape, and texture. That said, if the cost is more than $5 or $6 per ball, be sure you are carefully considering the value of your purchase.

Five other benefits of stress balls

As the title suggests, stress balls can help relieve stress and anxiety. However, there are a number of other benefits these tantalizingly squishy items offer.

  • Improved concentration: Active individuals or individuals who have a hard time staying still can benefit from the physical action of squeezing and releasing a stress ball when trying to focus or learn.
  • Lowered blood pressure: Through research and trials, doctors have determined that a regular exercise regimen involving squeezing, holding, and releasing a stress ball may have a positive impact on blood pressure in some individuals.
  • Increased muscle: Individuals who regularly use a stress ball can build muscles in their hands, wrists, and forearms.
  • Increased flexibility, dexterity, and individual finger strength: Certain squeezing exercises, ones that focus on the individual fingers as opposed to the whole hand, offer a wide range of benefits that include dexterity and flexibility.
  • Controlled arthritis: One study that was performed at the University of Oxford concluded that adding stress ball exercises to other more traditional treatments could help increase the effectiveness of those treatments.
DID YOU KNOW?

Baoding balls are the predecessor of the modern stress ball. These two metal balls became popular during the Ming dynasty in China. The two spheres are rotated in one hand to help relieve stress.

Other products we considered

Just as there are countless stress triggers, there are numerous types of squishy balls that can help you cope with that stress. If the offerings we spotlighted in other areas of this article aren't a perfect match, consider one of the following highly rated stress ball options.

Stress Less has a tranquil sea green set of Stress Balls with Motivational Quotes that come with a convenient canister for storage and transport. These tough 2.48-inch balls also come in blue, pink, and purple.

If squeezing alone isn't enough, MindPanda's Stress Relief Ball Set features three textured squishy balls that include positive quotes. These balls come in three density levels (hard, medium, and soft) and release a soothing fragrance as you knead for additional therapeutic benefits.

Some modern stress balls can produce sounds, such as glass shattering when thrown. This can provide a more visceral (and satisfying) user experience.

FAQ

Q. What exactly is stress?
A
. Stress is a perfectly normal response to change. It doesn't matter if it is a potentially bad change or an overwhelmingly good change; all change is accompanied by some form of stress. Stress can manifest as a physical, mental, or emotional response to the change. It can heighten our senses to help keep us alive in dangerous situations. However, chronic stress with no relaxation can take its toll on the mind and body.
 

Q. How can I tell if stress is affecting me in a negative way?
A
. There are a number of warning signs that let you know you may be suffering from chronic stress. Some of the most common symptoms include headaches, stomach distress, a racing heart, trembling, trouble sleeping, fatigue, muscle pain, weight loss, weight gain, and feeling dizzy or disconnected.

 

Q. Why does a stress ball help?
A
. The reason at the top of the list is the easiest to understand. To be dealt with adequately, stress requires a fight or flight response: tackle the problem head-on to solve it or run away. Both are valid. Unfortunately, when sitting at your work desk, you will encounter many situations you cannot handle on your own and you cannot ignore. So, your body tenses for action. The stress ball lets you engage in a physical activity that helps diffuse that tension. An ongoing problem will require a more permanent solution, but a stress ball is perfect for smoothing out those bumpy passages you may encounter throughout your day.

The team that worked on this review
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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