The 10 Best Stress Balls of 2022, According to a Mental Health Counselor

Squeeze your way to a clearer mind

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Many things—from genetics to your environment—can cause increased anxiety, feelings of restlessness, and rumination. Fidget toys, such as fidget spinners or stress balls, are thought to aid in relieving stress and distracting individuals from rumination and anxiety. As such, using a stress ball to expel energy and calm fidgeting might be helpful.

"Sometimes when a person is feeling stressed, frustrated, or overwhelmed, they have a desire to squeeze," says Lisa McCrohan, MA, LCSW-C, SEP, a Somatic Experiencing Psychotherapist, Integrative Coach, and author. This is where stress balls can help.

Here, the best stress balls on the market, according to a licensed mental health counselor.

Best Overall: Stress Less Stress Balls with Motivational Quotes 3 Pack

Stress Less Stress Balls with Motivational Quotes

Amazon

Pros
  • Uplifting quotes included

  • Packaged for gifting

  • Good for hand therapy

Cons
  • All are the same resistance

  • Faint smell reported

Combine a positive affirmation with a physical outlet for a double dose of stress relief. Sold as a pack of three, these stress balls come with happy quotes written on them to help shift your thoughts from stress to positivity. Made from polyurethane foam and available in four different color options, this is a durable and anxiety-relieving option.

Price at time of publication: $14

Items in set: 3 | External material: Polyurethane | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Polyurethane

Best Color: Power Your Fun Arrgh Rainbow Giant Stress Ball

Power Your Fun Arrgh Rainbow Giant Stress Ball

Amazon

Pros
  • Good for kids and adults

  • Can be washed in water

  • Great customer service and refund policy

Cons
  • Too large for some

  • Some report bursting/leaking

The gentle ombre of rainbow colors and larger size make this stress toy a good option for extra frustrating days when you need physical and emotional stress relief. Whether you need to vent, let out aggression, or keep both hands busy at once (it's 5-inch diameter is big enough to keep both hands occupied), this is a great option. The rainbow colors are bright and uplifting and this stress ball is easily cleaned if it gets dirty from use.

Price at time of publication: $13

Items in set: 1 | External material: Rubber | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Gel

Best Scent: Lavender Luvies Scented Stress Balls 3-Pack

Lavender Luvies Scented Stress Balls 3-Pack

Amazon

Pros
  • Good for aromatherapy

  • Multiple color options

  • Soft and comfortable exterior

Cons
  • All are the same resistance

  • Material may stretch over time

Smells can have a direct effect on mood. Research shows that lavender has a calming influence over brain waves and neurotransmitters. These stress balls are handmade and filled with dried lavender flowers. Gentle squeezing helps release the scent. They can be smelled, squeezed, and even tossed around in the air due to their lightweight and soft texture.

Price at time of publication: $26

Items in set: 3 | External material: Spandex | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Dried Lavender flowers

Best for Small Hands: MindPanda Empowering Gel Stress Ball Bundle

MindPanda Empowering Gel Stress Ball Bundle

Amazon

Pros
  • Compact case included

  • Multiple resistance levels

  • Latex- and BPA-free

Cons
  • Scent may be too strong

  • Resistance level not specified

Mind Panda stress balls come in packs of three, each with a different resistance level, scent, and empowering questions printed on them. The multiple resistance options allow the customer to choose which fit feels the most comfortable and soothing. A hand-strengthening exercise guide comes with each pack. Use this option for focused strength training or for mindless fidgeting to help fight boredom or anxiety during long meetings, work assignments or any time you need stress relief. 

Price at time of publication: $23

Items in set: 3 | External material: Lycra | Resistance: Soft, medium, hard | Fill: Thermoplastic gel

Best for Strengthening Hands: The Friendly Swede Stress Balls 3 Pack

The Friendly Swede Hand Grip Strength Trainer

Amazon

Pros
  • Multiple color options

  • Ergonomic egg shape design

  • Multiple resistance levels

Cons
  • Exterior is slightly sticky

The unique egg shape of this stress toy is designed specifically for strength training exercises and the relief of hand and joint pain. There are various color options to choose from as well as options ranging from 20 to 40 pounds of resistance. They come in multiple sizes to get just the right fit for kids and adults. They are made from thermoplastic rubber and are designed to strengthen muscles while simultaneously easing joint pain and carpal tunnel pain.

Price at time of publication: $17

Items in set: 3 | External material: Thermoplastic rubber | Resistance: 20, 30, and 40 pounds | Fill: Thermoplastic rubber

Best Variety Pack: BAUTVAS DNA Squishy Stress Balls for Kids

DNA Stress Balls

Amazon

Pros
  • Great for kids and adults

  • Variety of textures included

  • 90-day replacement or refund period

Cons
  • Strong odor reported

  • May burst or get punctured

The need for a particular type of stress ball or fidget toy can often depend on our mood at the time, especially for kids. With 8 different toys ranging in color and texture, including some filled with tactile beads, kids or adults have more than enough options to choose from. This is a great option for small classroom settings or families with multiple kids.

Price at time of publication: $14

Items in set: 8 | External material: Thermoplastic rubber | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Silicone

Most Durable: Serenilite Stress Balls 3-Pack

Serenilite Stress Ball 3-Pack

Amazon

Pros
  • Durable exterior

  • Lifetime warranty

  • Good for hand therapy

Cons
  • On the smaller side

  • Resistance levels not specified

Made with high-quality materials, these ergonomic stress balls feature a tear-resistant gel core and non-stick fabric for ultimate comfort. The design is made to combine color therapy and physical therapy to strengthen hands and wrists while calming anxieties and stress. Made for both kids and adults, this stress toy can handle your most frustrating days.

Price at time of publication: $18

Items in set: 3 | Material: Parachute nylon | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Gel

Best for Physical Therapy: GOZATO Squeeze Ball for Hand Therapy

Gozato Squeeze Ball

Amazon

Pros
  • Ergonomic egg shape

  • Multiple resistance levels

  • 100 percent satisfaction guarantee

Cons
  • Sticky exterior

For hand, wrist, or finger rehabilitation, a stress ball may be an optimal tool for physical therapy. The GOZATO squeeze ball set includes five stress balls with multiple resistance levels. Each resistance level—from extra soft (22 pounds) to extra firm (88 pounds)— corresponds with a different ball color, making it easy to find the one you need. The ergonomic shape helps with therapy exercises and makes it comfortable to hold.

Each one is made with thermoplastic rubber which is hypoallergenic, recyclable, and latex-free. Plus, the set comes with a cloth bag, making them easy to take on the go.

Price at time of publication: $8

Items in set: 3 | Material: Parachute nylon | Resistance: 22-88 pounds | Fill: Thermoplastic rubber

Best for Temperature Therapy: Bed Buddy Store Stress Ball and Grip Strength Trainer

Bed Buddy Store Stress Ball

Amazon

Pros
  • Can be heated or chilled

  • Finger loop for optimal grip

  • Filled with natural grains

Cons
  • Doesn't stay warm for long

  • Ball doesn't compress well

Heat or temperature therapy is designed to improve blood flow and circulation—soothing discomfort and easing muscle pain. In conjunction with the movements used to squeeze a stress ball, the temperature may provide a multi-dimensional approach to physical therapy practices. The Bed Buddy Store stress ball can be heated or cooled depending on your personal needs. Filled with natural grains, it provides resistance for squeezing and holding in your hand.

The ball is coated in a soft polyester material and it has a small finger loop to keep it from rolling out of your hand. When heating it, place it in the microwave for 30 seconds. When cooling the stress ball, the brand recommends placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Price at time of publication: $6

Items in set: 3 | Material: Parachute nylon | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Natural grain

Best for Kids: FIVOENDAR Fun Face Stress Balls 24-Pack

FIVOENDAR Fun Face Stress Balls 24-Pack

Amazon

Pros
  • Large variety


    Good for party favors


    Sized well for kids

Cons
  • Strong odor reported

It’s difficult to stay stressed and frustrated with a funny face stress ball helping you out. There are 24 bright, funny faces to choose from in this pack. At 2.5 inches in diameter, they are comfortable for kids and adults alike. The foam filling is soothing for anxiety, restlessness, or sore hands from typing or writing. The large variety pack is also great for kids party gifts.

Price at time of publication: $18

Items in set: 24 | Material: Foam | Resistance: N/A | Fill: Foam

Final Verdict

For the most calming effect, the Lavender Luvies Scented Stress Ball and Etsy Mini Crotchet Octopus Stress Ball are great options for both kids and adults. They are fun, well-made, and bring something light-hearted into a stressful situation. For tough, frustrating, and even angry days, the Power Your Fun Arrgh Giant Stress Ball is made to handle any type of aggression one may have stored up.

What to Look For in a Stress Ball

Quality of Materials

It is important to make sure a stress ball is made of durable materials to ensure lasting tension and resistance. A stress ball is not beneficial if it goes flat or becomes too soft. The materials should feel comfortable and soothing rather than sticky or slippery.

Resistance

A good stress ball should fight back a bit. Strengthening hand, finger, and wrist muscles is what helps relieve joint pain from carpal tunnel, medical procedures, and arthritis. A stress ball made for strength training will have the weight resistance listed and exercise instructions included. 

Multiple Sensory Features

If anxiety management is the primary goal, then a stress ball with multiple sensory features like scent or colors will help calm the brain and nervous system faster and more effectively than the resistance alone.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you make a stress ball?

    You can make a homemade stress ball by filling a slightly inflated balloon with cornstarch until it's about the size of an egg. Tie it tightly to prevent leaking. Decorate the outside of the balloon with pictures or sayings using permanent markers. Perfect for DIY stress relief.

  • How and why do stress balls work?

    Stress can often manifest itself as tension in the body. When someone is stressed, "their muscles may tighten, like in the feet, toes, legs, arms, hands, fingers, or jaw," according to McCrohan. "When a person has a desire to squeeze, we want to support them in mindfully allowing that squeezing action to happen so the body can move through the activated or pent up energy in the body and the nervous system can move out of a state of stress and into a more relaxed, connected state." The physical action of squeezing a stress ball can relieve tension and expel nervous energy.

  • How do you use a stress ball?

    Stress balls are small and portable so they can be used in a variety of settings and in many ways. You can squeeze a stress ball in your hand or press and roll it on a desk or table. You can toss it from hand to hand or against a wall. Keep one at your desk to use during stressful workdays or keep one at home for yourself or your kids to use anytime there's a need to reduce tension or fidgetiness.

  • What is inside of a stress ball?

    The inside of a stress ball is dependent on the type of ball and the manufacturer. Stress balls can be filled with foam, gel, silicone, natural grains, or other durable, squeezable materials.

  • Are stress balls bad for your hands?

    Stress balls are generally safe to use for relieving tension and anxiety or for strengthening hand and wrist muscles. If you have a chronic or repetitive use injury in your hands or joints, its best to get guidance from your doctor before using a stress ball.

Why Trust Verywell Mind

As a licensed mental health counselor, Mary Tatum has spent over 15 years working with children, teenagers, and adults who struggle with anxiety, ADHD, trauma, and OCD symptoms. Stress balls can be a helpful and tangible option to help focus and relax our thoughts during intensely stressful situations. While we are all adjusting to the work and daily life changes, it’s important to equip ourselves with as many helpful tools and options as possible.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Koulivand PH, Khaleghi Ghadiri M, Gorji A. Lavender and the nervous systemEvid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:1-10. doi:10.1155/2013/681304

  3. Mayer JM, Mooney V, Matheson LN, et al. Continuous low-level heat wrap therapy for the prevention and early phase treatment of delayed-onset muscle soreness of the low back: a randomized controlled trialArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2006;87(10):1310-1317.