Have you wondered why some adults tend to use stuffed animals? These aren’t just meant for children but can also do wonders for adults coping with anxiety and depression.
You might have come across this as a recent trend on social media, but the usage of stuffed animals goes back years. Doctors have been using them for ADHD patients and those trying to cope with a loss.
Weighted stuffed animals, like weighted blankets, tend to have a calming effect on the body. They help in dealing with depression, anxiety, and insomnia.
Weighted Stuffed Animals For Anxiety
Weighted teddy bears tend to be a common choice among weighted stuffed animals. There is little research about how weighted stuffed animals help deal with anxiety. However, some studies have been conducted on weighted blankets, which have a similar effect.
Through a small study on weighted blankets, researchers discovered that 63% of the participants had lower anxiety after using them. 78% of the participants also reported that the weighted blankets had a calming effect on them .
Theory suggests that the weight of the stuffed animals or blankets puts pressure on the body. This feeling of pressure releases hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, calming the nervous system. While adults may find it challenging to use stuffed animals in public, children are attracted to them for their unique colors and shapes.
Weighted Animals For Adults
Weighted stuffed animals are specifically designed to aid those facing anxiety and ADHD. The nervous system and mental disorders don’t cater to a specific age group. You can alleviate issues such as chronic pain, autism, insomnia, depression, stress, and ADHD by using weighted stuffed animals.
Adults started using weighted stuffed animals largely during the coronavirus period when they found it difficult to manage anxiety and loneliness. These weighted stuffed animals weigh between 2 to 5 pounds. They’re specifically designed with longer arms for hugs. Many include features to reduce fidgeting in users.
Do Weighted Stuffed Animals Work For Anxiety?
Don’t hugs make you feel better and less anxious? Weighted stuffed animals work similarly. They induce a deep pressure touch which releases dopamine and serotonin. These hormones are known as ‘happy hormones’ that directly and positively impact the nervous system. Once released, they relax breathing, decrease the heart rate, and make you feel less anxious .
Even though there is no proper research in this field, doctors claim that it comes down to personal preference and comfort. However, holding a stuffed weighted animal feels like giving a hug or swaddling a baby. They tend to make one feel relieved and reduce stress which makes them effective in lessening anxiety for people.
Benefits Of Weighted Stuffed Animals
Apart from being cozy and cuddly, weighted stuffed animals make great companions when one is alone and stressed out. More scientific research needs to be carried out in this regard. However, doctors often prescribe weighted stuffed animals for their calming effects. They also have multiple other benefits, which include:
Improvement In Sleep:
If you have trouble sleeping, weighted stuffed animals can become the perfect things to cuddle with. Weighted blankets ease the body and help you sleep longer than usual. Weighted stuffed animals can also have similar effects. However, these animals don’t cover the entire body, so you should look into ways to use them effectively for sleeping.
Multiple Ways To Use It:
Compared to a weighted blanket you normally use at night, weighted stuffed animals have various uses. There is no restriction, and you can easily carry them around to ease yourself. Moreover, you can also warm up weighted stuffed animals if they fit in a microwave oven.
With temperature manipulation, you can use your weighted stuffed animal to ease cramps and aid relaxation in the body. Some weighted stuffed animals also have the option of an insert that you can keep in the freezer to chill.
Since it has a calming effect on the nervous system, a weighted stuffed animal can reduce anxiety and control certain symptoms. These can’t be used as a cure but can lower physical symptoms such as muscle tension, rapid breathing, trembling, fast heartbeat, and muscle aches. Further research is required in this area since no scientific evidence supports this claim.
Helps with ADHD:
Therapists and doctors use weighted stuffed teddy bears to ease ADHD and anxiety among patients. 6.1 million children get diagnosed with ADHD during their lifetime. 3 out of 4 children receive behavioral and medical treatment for ADHD and anxiety. The less talked about treatment used to help these patients is weighted stuffed animals .
Since weighted stuffed animals improve sleep, they indirectly help in reducing symptoms of anxiety and ADHD. They’re great tools to calm down children since they have a friendly and fun appearance. Since they’re small toys, you can carry weighted stuffed animals without looking weird.
How To Choose The Perfect Weighted Stuffed Animal
When choosing the right weighted stuffed animal, there are certain things that you should keep in mind. These include:
The weight is the most important thing you need to check before buying a weighted stuffed animal. While adults can choose a weight according to their preference, the ideal weight for kids should be between 1 to 5 pounds. For children, choose an animal that they can carry themselves.
A weighted stuffed animal will be touching your skin, so you need to choose a fabric that won’t be irritable and should be soft. Moreover, the fabric should be breathable so you can easily sleep without feeling too warm.
Easy To Clean:
Weighted stuffed animals have material added to them to make them heavy, making them difficult to clean. You can’t wash them in a machine. Either get a weighted stuffed animal with a removable cover or one that can be spot cleaned.
The Bottomline: Weighted Stuffed Animal Benefits
Weighted stuffed animals are a great non-medical way to help with anxiety and ADHD. An important feature is that both children and adults can use it. However, many children can get used to sleeping with a stuffed animal, even when they grow up. So if you’re feeling tense and stressed out, hugging a weighted stuffed animal may relieve you.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
- Dfarhud D, Malmir M, Khanahmadi M. Happiness & Health: The Biological Factors- Systematic Review Article. Iran J Public Health. 2014 Nov;43(11):1468-77. PMID: 26060713; PMCID: PMC4449495.
- Brian Mullen BS, Tina Champagne MEd, OTR/L, Sundar Krishnamurty PhD, Debra Dickson APRN, BC & Robert X. Gao PhD (2008) Exploring the Safety and Therapeutic Effects of Deep Pressure Stimulation Using a Weighted Blanket, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 24:1, 65-89, DOI: 10.1300/J004v24n01_05
- Larsson I, Aili K, Nygren JM, Jarbin H, Svedberg P. Parents’ Experiences of Weighted Blankets’ Impact on Children with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Sleep Problems-A Qualitative Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Dec 8;18(24):12959. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182412959. PMID: 34948571; PMCID: PMC8700927.