Stress balls. Fidgets spinners. Many products have boasted their benefits to relieve stress, decrease anxiety or improve focus, but you may just have something already in your home that can help, maybe even better…Play doh. If you have children you probably already have some of this colorful clay to occupy your child’s time. Here are some benefits to using Play doh as more than just a medium for children’s artistic creations….
Manipulate the play doh, squish the play doh…whatever you wish. The tightening and releasing of the muscles in your hands helps release the tension you hold in your body when stressed.
Manipulating the play doh in your hands can serve as a non-destructive distraction from your worry or upsetting emotion. This certainly doesn’t make your troubles go away but we all like a break sometimes. By focusing on the play doh, its feel and smell, you can stop thinking about the source of your stress.
The brain stimulation that is created with the use of play doh can release endorphins that can improve mood. Some believe that this can also stimulate nerves in your hands that communicate with the limbic system of your brain, the part of the brain that deals with our emotions.
What is grounding? Grounding techniques are methods that help keep someone in the present. They help “ground” us in the here-and-now. Grounding can engage your senses in a healthy way to help manage, distract or dull the overwhelming feelings associated with
PTSD: Flashbacks or Dissociation
Urges to Self-Harm
The activity of play doh manipulation may serve as a type of ritual for many people, which can have a comforting effect by offering predictability, familiarity, and structure during moments of stress and/or anxiety.
This may not work for all people but those that struggle with maintaining focus (such as those with ADHD), manipulating the play doh in your hands can actually increase alertness, help tune in to current task, and reduce the distraction of random thoughts.
Bonus: Play doh has a particular smell that we often associate with positive childhood memories which uses our sense of smell to further ground us and connect us to positive memories. Also, we can easily choose our favorite color or a color we personally associate with calm, positive emotion.
Whether you are teaching them about money, food, or mathematics, play dough can act as a fantastic resource and an amazing learning aid. For multi-purpose learning, such as teaching colour and shapes at the same time, play dough can also work well. Many people with developmental delays struggle to understand certain concepts unless they can see them in action, which is where multi-purpose learning with the use of play dough can be so beneficial.