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Egg-Shaped Stress Ball

In this make and take, students discover the benefits of deep breathing and muscle tension release in reducing the effects of stress by creating a homemade stress ball. These devices are fun to make, and can be squeezed into entertaining shapes.

Stress can contribute to illness in many ways: asthma, obesity, heart problems, migraines, and depression are just few examples of diseases related to stress. People can become stressed because of family troubles, school or work issues, or arguments with friends.

Stress is often accompanied by muscle tension. When you squeeze a stress ball, the muscles in your hand contract and release, releasing some of the tension being carried by other parts of your body. If you take deep breaths while squeezing and releasing the ball, you progressively relax, eventually releasing the hold stress has on your body. By squeezing a stress ball your  attention is diverted away from the source of stress, leading to increased relaxation.

Deep breathing helps your body reach balance by reducing your heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the amount of stress hormones being released, and relaxing your muscles. It works best when practiced daily at a time other than bedtime. It is a mentally active process that becomes better with practice. Yoga is based on the practice of deep breathing

Objectives

  • Relate meditation, deep breathing, and muscle tension releasing exercising to the reduction of stress.

  • Name health hazards related to stress

Materials

  • Per Group of  3–4 Students:
    funnels

  • Per Student:
    scissors
    1 yellow balloon
    2 white balloons
    filling (sand, rice, flour, bird seed, dried lentils etc.)

    Teacher Tip: The filling cannot be sharp or it will rip the balloons.

Key Questions

  • Do you feel tension releasing when you relax your grip?
  • Does slow breathing improve your relaxation?
  • How does squeezing the ball and slow breathing help relieve stress?

What To Do

  1. Give each student 2 white balloons, 1 yellow balloon, and a pair of scissors.
  2. Blow up the balloons slightly to stretch the rubber.
  3. Use a funnel to pour the filling slowly into the yellow balloon, until it is about 7 cm in diameter. Gently tap the balloon as it fills to ensure there are no gaps in the filling.
  4. Tie the end of the yellow balloon in a tight knot and snip off the excess rubber.
  5. Cut the necks off of the white balloons.
  6. Pull one white balloon over the filled “yolk”, covering the knot.
  7. Pull the second white balloon over the first, covering the opening.
  8. Squeeze the “egg” and hold for a few seconds. Relax for a moment.
  9. This time, take a deep breath while squeezing.
  10. Release your grip as you exhale.
  11. Repeat 2–3 times, squeezing a bit harder each time.
  12. This should be done every day for about 5 minutes.

Extensions

  • The stress ball can also be used as a hacky sack — having fun also releases tension!