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3 Reasons You Should Use a Weighted Stuffed Animal for Anxiety

It's like a weighted blanket, but make it cute and cuddly.

Woman hugging weighted teddy bear while lying in bed.
Getty Images/Flashpop

Weighted stuffed animals are skyrocketing in popularity, thanks to an influx of TikTok videos praising the cute designs and effectiveness for easing anxiety. But this is more than just a TikTok trend that will die out when the next one supplants it. Weighted stuffed animals have been around for a while now -- doctors use them to help patients cope with loss or help kids manage ADHD. 

If you're looking for a way to ease anxiety, a weighted anxiety stuffed animal can help. Here's what to know and how to make one yourself.  

3 reasons to use a weighted stuffed animal for anxiety

1. They can help ease anxiety symptoms 

Weighted stuffed animals are cute and cuddly, but there's more to them. Weighted stuffed animals and weighted blankets work the same way a hug does -- it settles and calms the nervous system with deep pressure stimulation. When you use them, your brain releases serotonin and dopamine. Then as your breathing slows, your heart rate decreases and you feel relief.  

The research behind these products is minimal. However, a systematic review of studies investigating the effectiveness of sensory integration modalities -- such as weighted blankets or weighted stuffed animals -- can be a therapeutic tool in reducing anxiety. They won't cure anxiety, but they can help with the physical symptoms of anxiety, like muscle aches and tension, rapid breathing, increased heart rate and trembling. 

Read more: 8 Anxiety Myths You Can Stop Believing Today

2. They're less intrusive than a weighted blanket

With weighted blankets, most people use them exclusively at night, given they can be bulky and heavy. Weighted stuffed animals give you the freedom to take them anywhere and feel relief. 

There are a few other perks that set weighted anxiety stuffed animals apart. They have the benefit of temperature manipulation. As long as it will fit in your microwave, you can warm up your weighted plush, which is great for easing cramps and aiding relaxation. Some options have a removable insert that you can heat instead of putting the entire plush in your microwave. You also can put them in the freezer to chill them. 

Read more: 8 Best Teas for Anxiety and Stress

3. They can improve your sleep

If you have trouble sleeping at night because of anxiety, a weighted stuffed animal may be the cuddle companion you never expected. Weighted blankets have been shown to help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Weighted anxiety stuffed animals don't completely cover you as a weighted blanket would, so it's a good idea to use additional tactics to ease your anxiety and get some sleep. Try adding a meditation app to your nightly routine to sleep. 

Read more: 5 Fool-Proof Tips to Get Your Anxiety in Check Before Bed

Three children asleep in the back seat of a car, cuddling stuffed animals.
Catherine Delahaye/Getty Images

How to make a weighted stuffed animal

According to the dozens of videos on TikTok, the highly coveted Target weighted stuffed animalfor anxiety is often out of stock. While there are several versions available across Amazon and other retailers, you can also make a weighted stuffed animal at home on a budget. 

Making one at home also allows you to personalize your stuffed animal, selecting the size, feel and weight. It's simple; you'll need a stuffed animal, some filling and sewing materials. 

Making a weighted stuffed toy, step by step

  • Step one: Select your stuffed animal. Size, shape and animal are up to you. It just has to be one you're comfortable altering. For opening, some people use a thread remover, but scissors would also work just fine. Remember you just want to remove the existing stitches without cutting an irregular hole that might be harder to sew back up. 
  • Step two: Once you've opened the seam of the stuffed animal, start removing the existing filling. How much you choose to leave depends on how heavy you want your weighted stuffed animal for anxiety to be. It's a good idea to leave the fluff filling in the animal's head or feet to maintain its appearance. 
  • Step three: Fill your stuffed animal with weighted material. There are several popular fillings -- flaxseed, bird seed, dried beans or plastic pellets. Some choose to sew the weighted material into pouches and then insert them, but that is not a necessary step.
  • Step four: Sew the animal together. Now you've got a weighted anxiety stuffed animal. 

An additional step you can take is to add essential oils like ginger, lavender or lemon. If stuffed animals aren't your style, there's nothing from stopping you from making a weighted throw pillow instead. 

More advice for anxiety

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.