The 8 Best Stress Balls of 2021, According to a Mental Health Counselor

Squeeze your way to a clearer mind

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

Here, the best stress balls to help distract you from feelings of stress and anxiety, according to a licensed mental health counselor.

Our Top Picks
The pack of stress balls comes with quotes of affirmation printed on them to help shift your thoughts from stress to positivity.
The cheerful rainbow colors and large size make this stress toy a good option for extra frustrating days.
Filled with the scent of lavender flowers for a calming effect, they can be smelled, squeezed, or tossed in the air.
Perfect for kids or adults, this three-pack comes with multiple resistance levels and can be used for strength training.
Designed specifically for strength training and relieving hand and joint pain, there are multiple resistance options.
With 28 different toys in this variety pack, kids or adults have more than enough options to choose from for any setting.
The design is made to combine color therapy and physical therapy to strengthen hand and wrists while calming anxiety.
These stress toys feature a fiberfill core and are covered in crochet yarn to make them extra soft.

Best Overall: Stress Less Stress Balls with Motivational Quotes

Combine a positive affirmation with a fidget 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.

Best Color: Power Your Fun Arrgh Rainbow Giant Stress Ball

The gentle ombre of rainbow colors and larger size make this stress toy a good option for extra frustrating days. 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. 

Best Scent: Lavender Luvies Scented Stress Balls 3-Pack

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 lavender flowers. They can be smelled, squeezed, and even tossed around in the air due to their lightweight and soft texture.

Best for Small Hands: MindPanda Empowering Gel Stress Ball Bundle

Mind Panda stress balls come in packs of three, each with a different resistance level and scent. 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 or work assignments. 

Best for Strengthening Hands: The Friendly Swede Hand Grip Strength Trainer

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 are made from thermoplastic rubber and are designed to strengthen muscles while simultaneously easing joint pain and carpal tunnel pain.

Best Variety Pack: PP PHIMOTA Sensory Toys 28-Pack

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 28 different toys ranging from stress balls to puzzle boxes in this variety pack, kids or adults have more than enough options to choose from. This is a great option for classroom settings or homes where multiple kids are trying to get homework done at the same time.

Most Durable: Serenilite Stress Ball 3-Pack

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 to use, this stress toy can handle your most frustrating days.

Best Novelty: Malecha Knitting Mini Crochet Octopus Stress Ball

Etsy Mini Crotchet Octopus Stress Ball

A tiny, squeezable, smiling baby octopus is sure to make your day. Sold individually, they come in a variety of colors and can be used in a group or separately. These stress toys feature a fiberfill core and are covered in crochet yarn to make them extra soft. 

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.

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.

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