Wellness is a hot topic as we look for ways to cope with everything that is happening this year. Keeping well during the displacement and uncertainty of bushfires and then the uncertainty and frustration caused by COVID19 has been a bigger task than many expected. Therefore, it might be surprising to hear that certain promotional products can help reduce this stress and anxiety. Even more surprising that they can improve academic performance and reduce pain in post-procedure medical situations. These are pretty bold claims for the lowly stress ball, but it’s been studied and proven, so here’s why you should include them in your merchandise offering.
The stress ball has a long history beginning in Baoding, China during the Ming Dynasty. Still used today, Baoding balls are two smooth stones or weighted metal balls that can be held and turned in one hand. The movement and weight of the balls promotes concentration and relieves anxiety.
The modern version of the stress ball came about after the invention and increased availability of polyurethane. As an alternative to rubber, PU was bouncy, pliable and was the perfect material for a child’s ball. That ball moved into corporate spaces in the 1980s as workers recognised that stress was an issue and experts discovered it could be relieved through tactile self-regulation (more on that below).
Here’s an interesting fact – the original stress ball included a ‘glass shatter’ sound chip that would activate when the ball was thrown. Just to provide the satisfaction of breaking something in frustration.
Almost immediately, the modern stress ball was employed in marketing, branded with logos, slogans and contact numbers. And so it continues today, in many shapes, colours and material. Have a look at some of our range here.
Humans are great adaptors and one of the coping strategies we have always used is self-regulation. We all do it. It could be tapping your foot, twirling your hair, or wringing your hands to ground and calm yourself. Or it could be controlling the noise level in your workspace through noise-cancelling headphones and instrumental music. Clicking a pen or bouncing on a gym ball are also common methods of self-regulation. Fidgeting is what it is called in school. What it is, though, is controlling sensory stimulation to optimise your focus and manage your emotions.
Did you know that handling a stress ball offers enough distraction to ease anxiety in medical settings? Less anxiety leads to reduced pain and better post-procedure outcomes for patients. For stress, the action of squeezing a PU ball requires enough physical exertion to release tension and frustrated energy. That physical release helps to divert your mind from stressors and refocus on tasks.
For continued concentration, the best items are ones that you can manipulate without having to watch. These include stress balls, fidget cubes and Baoding balls. Chain loops, mini bean bags and hand brushes are also great sensory toys for focus.
A 2006 study found that a class of grade six students had better concentration and learning outcomes when using stress balls during lessons. The result? A 10% increase in the class’s average writing assessment score.
Fidget spinners are not on the list of focus-promoting products because they need hand-eye coordination to use. Their movement also distracts others and so are not great for group-learning situations. They do have benefits, however. Fidget spinners increase fine motor skills through repetitive movement, vibration and muscle memory. So not all bad. For recreation and a fun promotion, it’s all good!
The Marketing Opportunity
As we said above, stress balls have been a promotional product since the 1980s. Small, lightweight and very affordable, they tick all the boxes of a classic promotional product. Stress balls and fidget items have the bonus of physical and mental health benefits. Being so, they are great for a wide range of industries. As well as health, sports, education they would be welcome in corporate and trade event spaces too.
A stress ball shows you care about your corporate clients and understand the pressure that people in your market feel. Stress balls and fidget items are useful, helpful and are great carriers of your brand and messaging as we’ll talk about next.
How to optimise branding
Stress balls have evolved over the last 30 years. While they still exist as a small rubber or foam ball, their shape is unlimited. This introduces so many new opportunities to represent your brand.
From anatomical hearts to shipping containers, lightning bolts to farm animals, stress shapes are fully customisable. Have you got a mascot? You can have mini stress versions for giveaways and displays. Custom shapes are a fun deviation from the classic ball and give you an invaluable opportunity to express what your brand is about.
You can appeal to your industry or show off your specialty. You could also empathise with your consumer – If your business is device repairs, perhaps a stress phone is a good alternative when your clients want to throw something across the room. The multitude of options allows you to get really creative with your branding. Shapes, colours and messaging can complement or contrast the product, your promotion or your overall brand.
Stress balls, stress shapes and fidget items are versatile and functional promotional products. Their branding opportunity is great. Their industry relevance is wide. For such small items they have big benefits to your clients and your business. Take a look through our catalogue or get in touch to see how we can add stress shapes to your promotional merchandise.