How Soft Toys Can Help Reduce Stress, Anxiety & Loneliness
While many people over the age of 20 might try to hide their love of soft toys, holding on to your childhood furry friends might be a step in the right direction in terms of mental wellbeing. In fact, Professor Bruce Hood from Bristol University in the UK reveals sharing a bed with a soft toy is actually very common and approximately one in three people find comfort in keeping a soft toy in their bedroom.
In this article, we’re going to investigate why even as adults we still love to secretly cuddle a soft toy, and how investing in plush toy animals and cute objects might help combat major health concerns such as work related stress, social anxiety, depression and even loneliness.
Why Invest In Plush Toys?
Buying a plush toy might leave you feeling a little embarrassed as an adult, yet most people wouldn’t think twice about a couple going to Disneyland for a weekend break. But for some reason seeing soft toys on an adult’s bed is still considered unusual in our Western society.
However the fact is that our society still puts soft toys on a pedestal. From the adult film Ted, featuring a witty and slightly rude real life teddy bear, a major UK insurance company rewarding customers with a collectable family or meerkats, to the rising popularity of Asian fashion, music and culture across around the world, soft toys for adults are finally becoming socially accepted.
Whether you have a soft spot for plush toys, or you are looking for a unique way to reduce stress, soft toys are a fantastic mental health support.
So, let’s take a look at 5 ways soft toys and plush toys are helping to promote mental health and provide adults with emotional support at home.
1: Combat Work Related Stress
In 2020, 79% of professionals in the UK experienced work related stress. According to The American Institute of Stress, around 33% of people reported feeling extreme stress, and 77% revealed that they felt work related stress had an impact on their physical health. Symptoms of work related stress include, fatigue, anxiety, depression, emotional eating, mood swings and an increased risk of heart disease and heart attack. (2,3) So finding a way to reduce work related stress and bring down the risk of major health problems is crucial. Thankfully, plush toys can come to the rescue in this situation. Coming home to something that is soft, furry and is always happy to see you, can help you to feel comforted and safe. Afterall a teddy bear is a universal symbol for love, and both doctors and therapists agree that a weighted soft toy can help ease work related stress. (4)
2: Reduce Social Anxiety
If the thought of attending a group event, social gathering or family affair fill you with dread, you might be suffering from social anxiety. According to a study published in September 2020, social anxiety is on the rise, and the increasing use of social media and the technology are to blame. As we all spend more time on our phones, tablets and laptops, and less time developing social skills, forming support groups and enjoying face to face interaction, the more a social situation becomes scary, daunting and unfamiliar.
For young people in particular, relationships are key to mental health and the more we hide behind a screen, the more damage is being done to society as a whole. (5) However, a cute looking plush toy could be the answer. Able to give you a hug, a familiar smile and mental reassurance helps a lot of people to overcome this issue and build the mental strength to face difficult situations.
3: Helps Loneliness
Buzzfeed conducted a survey that revealed how some member’s of the Buzzfeed community felt about their soft toys and why they choose to hold on to their childhood plush toys. One person told Buzzfeed that she still sleeps with her childhood stuffed animal and feels reassured that he’s always there for her after a difficult day at work. Another explained how they consider their soft toy a ‘piece of home’ and takes it with them while travelling. (6) Sadly many people suffer from loneliness as they get older. Whether you’ve not yet found the right partner, or you’ve been through a number of bad relationships, feeling lonely as an adult is surprisingly common. If you’re unable to have a pet, a soft toy can help lift your mood and give you someone cute and soft to cuddle during the night. In fact, across Asia soft toys are being used to curb loneliness in cafes and restaurants. At the Moomin Cafe, if you’re dining alone, you’ll be joined by a huge stuffed animal. If you prefer dining at home invest in a soft plush toy companion.
4: Promote Positive Thinking
Soft toys can help remind you of fond childhood memories, the support and comfort of your parents, and the magic of childhood. From Disney movies and fairytales to Harry Potter and superheroes, plush toys can help us to remember a time when everything and anything seemed possible, and this will do wonders for your mental health. As an adult, we often develop feelings of self doubt as we grow older, and these emotions can quickly trigger a negative outlook on life.
Being an adult these days can seem pretty lonely too, especially for those who move away to study or are raising a young family on their own. Having a couple of cute soft toys at home, with a big smile on their faces, will bring you joy and help reassure you whenever you feel down.