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Does squeezing a stress ball help in relieving stress?

Those smiley balls are too cute and soft to be a stress buster (or so we think).

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : November 16, 2015 6:53 PM IST

Read this in Hindi

Do you have a stress ball at your desk and squeeze it often when deadline is nearing or when you feel tensed before a board meeting? Does it work? Do you feel relaxed after doing it or is it just an illusion? Well, to begin with, even we don t have a straightforward answer to this question. Neither there is any study on this subject nor do doctors know whether it works. We aren t very sure if using a stress ball will actually help in relieving stress, but if people are benefitting from it, there is no harm in using it, says Dr Prakash Jiandani, director of critical care unit, Wockhardt Hospital, South Mumbai. Here are seven things you should never do when stressed.

So, why is the stress ball so popular?

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It isn t like the stress ball doesn t benefit you at all, the principle in which the stress ball works is like contracting and relaxing the muscles of your hands that can help you calm down and keep stress at bay. Here is what a stress ball can do to you:

It releases tension: When you press a stress ball, the muscles in your hands and your wrists tighten up and when you release the ball it relaxes the tendons and muscles in the area. This helps one to release tension build up due to stress. There are various ways in which stress affects our body and one of them is by releasing the hormone cortisol. This hormone in turn constricts the blood vessels, making it difficult to get enough oxygen and impairs circulation -- one of the reasons why you feel fatigued and physically drained when stressed. This action of constantly pressing and releasing a stress ball helps the muscles to dilate and improve oxygen and blood circulation. However, don t try to stuff yourself with food when stressed, read to know why.

It stimulates your nerves: It is a known fact that the extremities of your body, i.e., the hands and feet have nerve endings that are connected to your brain. The nerve ending in the hands are connected to the limbic region that is solely responsible for controlling your emotions. Pressing the stress ball with your palm has an effect like the acupressure, where stimulating the nerves in one area helps the other areas to function at its optimum.

It improves your mood: When the nerves connected to your brain are stimulated by pressing a stress ball, it relieves muscular tension and also helps to secrete endorphins that minimise the cortisol levels in the blood. This helps to improve your mood as well. Do you know sometimes stress is also good for you.

How to use a stress ball?

Pick a ball that fits in your palm perfectly, neither too big nor too small. Keep the ball in your palm and press it, applying pressure from your fingertips and hold it to a count of three or five. Release it slowly and repeat the process for about eight to 10 times with each hand. Remember, to synchronise your breathing while using the stress ball. Breathe in and press the ball and hold your breath till you release it. Breathe out slowly, while releasing the ball.

Word of caution: While you can try this to relieve stress and uplift your mood, know that sometimes untreated stress could also trigger a host of mental conditions like depression, anxiety disorder and more. So, reach out for help if you are suffering from chronic stress and ditch the ball when it is time.

Image source: Shutterstock

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