07/11/2014 03:12 pm ET Updated Sep 10, 2014

3 Stress Ball Secrets: Bouncing Back from a Setback

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One of the joys of working in corporate that I experienced were the team-building exercises we went through like clockwork every Thursday morning at 9 a.m.. The doughnut buffet beautifully lined with my favorite Krispy Kreme glazed delights, especially the doughnut holes, and the large caffeine decanters in every corner of the room. I never found these exercises very productive, but during one particular session, I learned a very valuable lesson about myself and a stress ball.

A group of us was segmented into smaller groups at round tables of 10. Nothing unusual. However, there were large muslin drawstring bags sitting in the middle of each table. We didn't know what to expect, as we could not distinguish what was inside the bags.

Once seated, we were given instructions to reach into the bag and pull out an item. Then, we were told to examine it and come up with words that described us based on the item. Not as easy as I thought. My item was a pink, jelly-like, round object with what seemed like tentacles all around it. I didn't know what to think at first; my inclination was to describe the item or try to figure out what to call it. Rolling it around in my hand, I realized it was a uniquely disguised stress ball.

The idea for using a stress ball is to transfer your stress, tension and anxiety into the ball by squeezing it as best you can, and then release. The ball's job is to absorb it all! Unlike paper that you wad up tightly in your hand, the ball quickly returns to its original shape when the pressure is released.

I realized that life is a lot like the stress ball in the hand of circumstances. When things are easy and playful, we don't feel stress or anxiety. We are like that ball, rolling playfully in the hand of life. In contrast, when we experience stress we feel like we are being squeezed by the circumstances of our life.

Back to the day of our team building meeting, I realized holding the pink object in my hand that I, metaphorically speaking, was that stress ball and the situations of my life were what held me, either tightly or playfully. I realized that I had the ability to bounce back quickly from setbacks.


  • Remain true to your innate abilities and talents. The stress ball bounces back because that is the way it is designed. We, too, are designed to bounce back, if we stay true to form.
  • Understand your ability to expand. Life squeezes us to remind us of our ability to expand beyond the circumstance into greater awareness. How can we appreciate the contrast of not being under pressure if we don't experience the pressure?
  • Relax! The biggest secret of all stress balls is that it doesn't resist the squeeze. Allow yourself to feel the squeeze. In fact, relax into it. When there is no resistance, you reserve your power and achieve a higher level of perseverance.

Who knew that a stress ball could teach such valuable life lessons?

Life is supposed to squeeze us and challenge us to become more purposeful beings. When I feel that squeeze coming on, I don't retreat from my true form. I relax into it and say to myself "I am a stress ball... I am a stress ball... I am resilient... I bounce back!"

Kim Harris, Creator/Visionary - Stiletto Business Strategies for Women Business Owners and the #StilettoMovement2014. An entrepreneur and co-founder of a nonprofit organization, Kim helps women entrepreneurs connect and share value in online training and live events. She is the recipient of the Small Business Administration's Women in Business Champion of the Year Award and 2013 Small Business Influencer Nominee. Kim is a published author of several books and has helped women entrepreneurs procure hundreds of thousands in grants and sponsorships to further their purpose and mission. To become a speaker for #StilettoLIVE2014, email

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