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Dealing With Stress On The Job: Do Stress Balls Really Work?

Dealing With Stress On The Job: Do Stress Balls Really Work?

Posted by Matt Cost on Apr 3rd 2017

You’ve got deadlines to meet, meetings to attend, client deals hanging in the balance, and it feels like the whole team is counting on you. No matter what your line of business, you’ve no doubt been under stressful circumstances. If you’re an employer, both you and your employees face the challenges of stress on a regular basis.

Stress can be a real productivity killer when not managed properly. According to the University of Cambridge, stress on the job often results in loss of concentration, lack of motivation, difficulty with thought process, loss of memory, and poor decision-making. That’s a murderer’s row of adverse effects.

While there is no shortage of tips and tools for dealing with stress, figuring out the most efficient and effective ways to keep a healthy mindset can be just as great of a challenge as the work causing the stress in the first place.

At you’ll find dozens of stress ball and stress toy options. Do these really help combat stress on the job? What are some other ways to stay mentally healthy, focused, and productive? To find these answers we brought in an expert.

Ellen Wilkins, LMFT, PT is a licensed therapist, as well as a licensed and experienced physical therapist here in Nashville, TN. She’s uniquely qualified to address the relationship between mental health and the health of the body.

Here’s what she suggests:

First Things First

The first five minutes of your morning can set the tone the rest of the day. Wilkins says simply taking deep breaths before you get out of bed to rush through your morning routine can bring a sense of calm. Meditating, focusing on your breathing, and letting your thoughts drift away can enhance the experience.

If the morning is too much of a rush, five minutes of thoughtful meditation before you walk into the office or turn on your computer can have the same benefits.

Don’t Forget to Breathe

Breathing is a foundational element of meditation. Obviously, most of our breathing occurs automatically, without conscious thought. So often times we tend to hold our breath in stressful situations, Wilkins points out.

“When people feel anxious, there is usually tightening in their chest, and their breathing becomes shallow. Recognizing these sensations is key.”

Wilkins recommends taking at least three slow, deep breaths in these situations. A long exhalation helps to slow the heart rate down and helps the body relax.

Wilkins calls these opportunities, “the space between,” meaning the brief windows of time between daily activities. Busy people often can’t remember to eat lunch or take a quick break, much less remember to breathe. Mindfulness and a few minutes of deep breathing before an important phone call or a big meeting can aide relaxation and reduce stress.

Connect Your Mind and Body

Intense cardio exercise relieves stress for most people by releasing endorphins, which boosts mood, and decreases cortisol, the so-called “stress hormone.”

Stress relief toys are another way to influence the mind by doing something physical. Stress relief balls can provide value to those who’s anxiety manifests itself by restlessness and fidgeting. “Some people shake their legs, or bite their nails, or drum their fingers on the desk. Sometimes having an object to hold or mold can give enough grounding to affect your thoughts and dispense your excess energy,” Wilkins notes.

The use of stress relief toys can change based on the source of the stress. Is the stress coming from being stuck in a chair all day? A few simple exercises with a ball can go a long way. “Squeeze the ball(s) tightly in your hands, and shrug your shoulders as tight as you can to your ears,” Wilkins suggests. “Then release the shoulders and open your hands wide.”

“I think there are other uses for stress relief toys. After squeezing for a few minutes, I like to toss it up in the air, or bounce it off the wall, or try to make a basket in my trash can.”

Additional Resources

Additionally, Wilkins says there are treatments to go beyond these few simple tools. Seeing a therapist or a physician is often imperative in certain situations.

For others, technology can provide useful assistance. There’s an app she recommends called Headspace, and various other teaching aides online.