How Adult Stress Toys Help You Feel Calm

It’s amazing how quickly wiggling your fingers and squeezing something squishy can help you breathe a sigh of relief.

Young Woman Praying or Meditating in Home
Sensory toys can help you achieve a sense of peace in any environment.Getty Images

Stress toys are excellent sensory relief tools for people with ADHD and autism, they can help ground a person who has anxiety and they can provide a replacement for other body-focused repetitive behaviors like nail biting. In fact, some preliminary studies have suggested such “fidget widgets” may boost focus and creativity. (Some people even swear by stress toys and fidgets as a tool that helped them quit smoking, although there’s no study out there saying it works any better than plain cold turkey.) We’ve rounded up four picks that have the features you need to relieve stress, bring calm and help you live your best life no matter what’s going on around you.

Get Your Fidgets Out

Sensory Fidget Toys Set
This set is perfect for when even picking out a stress toy is stressing you out.Amazon

Everyone’s needs and preferences are different, and it can take a few tries to figure out which sensory toys will be the most grounding for you. That’s why we like that manufacturers are offering multipacks like this one. It comes with 22 different toys including stress relief balls, stretchy strings to wrap around and pull between your fists, finger traps, a magical-looking liquid hourglass and adorable “squeeze beans”—a plastic pea pod that lets you pop out individual beans. Once you find what works for you, you can stock up.

Your Own Personal Cheerleader

Motivational Stress Balls for Adults
Comes in a set of three so you can take one anywhere.Amazon

Stress balls and other toys help you release tension and anxiety physically. But what about when you’re mentally exhausted, too? That’s where a behavioral therapy skill called “self-cheerleading” (otherwise known as positive self-affirmation) comes in. That’s why we like these stress balls. Not only are they super squishy and durable, but each one comes with a strongly worded, irreverent reminder that you can make it through. A little levity is important in times of duress, and the slogans on these stress balls are a small way to keep your head clear.

Squish Away Stress

Satkago 25 Pcs Mini Mochi Squishies
You can’t not smile when playing with these tiny toys.Amazon

Small “squishies” toys are super-trendy with the elementary and middle school set. We used to be puzzled, but not anymore. Not only are these squishy smiley stars and snoozing animals absolutely precious, they’re also good at bringing you back to the present when your mind is racing. Just press down on one and watch it rise back up again. As many times as you need to. Their tiny size makes them inconspicuous enough to slip in your pocket or just carry in your hands.

You’re Ready for This Jelly

Beadeez Stress Relief Squeezing Balls
The rainbow ball is especially mesmerizing.Amazon

Some stress balls are pretty dense and hard—which doesn’t necessarily work for folks with arthritis, tendonitis or other hand or finger issues. If you just want to squeeze and squeeze and squeeze, a water-bead filled toy might work better for you. The squishy texture of the beads in these balls is easier on your hands than a traditional stress ball—you can squeeze these stress balls gently and get the same calming effect.