10 Reasons Why Adults Can Benefit from Owning Stuffed Animals

adult with stuffed animal

Children have lots of stuffed animals when they are little, but as the years go by, a childhood stuffed menagerie diminishes until they are all given away or worn out as a person ages into adulthood. But did you know that there were advantages to hanging on to stuffed animals beyond adolescence? Below are eight reasons adults should consider keeping their favourite plushies.

1) Provide comfort and security

Stuffed animals are viewed as transitional objects. In childhood, they provide comfort when kids are exposed to new situations, such as being separated from a parent or moving into a new home. Stuffed animals have a sense of familiarity that can help ease this transition and provide a sense of comfort and security. This can help reduce stress, curb loneliness, reduce anxiety, etc. These are essential tools for children during development. However, plushies can also come in handy later in life. Adulthood is full of transition and change, and stuffed animals can continue to provide the same comfort and security needed to make these changes less daunting.

2) Improve mental health and well being

Just like owning a living pet, stuffed animals can have similar benefits. Owning a pet provides a companion, reduces loneliness and feelings of isolation. A stuffed animal can do the same. Although not alive, it can help make someone feel less alone and provide physical contact. This is especially prevalent in the recent COVID pandemic, where direct human contact was sometimes sparse.

Pets can also help reduce the stress hormone cortisol and elevate serotonin and dopamine levels. Stuffed animals can also have similar effects. For example, petting a dog or a cat can help a person feel calm and soothed. The same can be achieved by petting a stuffed animal. Likewise, the comfort and security provided by a living pet can also be provided by a stuffed animal.

4) Ease loneliness

Almost one third of adult in the U.S. and Canada adults report feeling lonely or isolated some of the time or more often. This is prevalent in all stages of life. As a child, the world around you can be daunting and challenging to adjust to. Children try to learn and grow while also navigating social relationships. Stuffed animals can be easier to create relationships with and grow attached to, especially in earlier stages of development.

Managing social relationships and interactions may seem like an easier task as an adult, but this is usually not the case. Adults usually live very separate lives from those they work with or see on their morning commute. There is also typically less free time in adulthood. So it can be challenging to find the time and place to form new relationships. This is particularly true in the modern age, where virtual and online relationships are more common. Although stuffed animals cannot replace the social roles of people in life, they can help alleviate some of the feelings of isolation and loneliness.  

4) Helps with sleep

Stuffed animals can help children develop dependence to independence at night. As infants and children, we are used to having our parents there to either sleep near us or tuck us into bed. Their presence is something children associate with bedtime. When nighttime rituals rely less on the help and presence of parents, a stuffed animal can help fill the void. In addition, it can provide a sense of comfort, which can help make it easier to fall asleep. As an adult, sleeping with a stuffed animal can help invoke a similar sense of comfort and security making it easier to fall asleep. Likewise, a stuffed animal from childhood may also have a smell reminiscent of a childhood memory, providing additional emotional comfort when trying to sleep.

5) Aids in the grieving process  

Many people choose to retreat and manage their emotions without fear of judgment when grieving. However, this, too, can be an isolated activity. A stuffed animal can be a great stand-in to provide comfort and allow for venting feelings and emotions in a safe, non-judgmental space.  

A stuffed animal can also be a great way to remember a person who has died. Pieces of the deceased person's favourite clothing can be sewn onto the stuffed animal. Their voice can be recorded inside and played when missing them. Their ashes can be incorporated into a container inserted inside, and so on. See this product.

6) Stuffed animal can help with self-soothing

When growing up, parents are there to soothe their children through difficult situations. However, they must develop ways to self-soothe when parents are not around. It allows a person to navigate and regulate their feelings and emotions, which are crucial skills throughout life. Stuffed animals can be a good proxy. They can continue to be a valuable tool to use in adulthood, especially when external outlets of comfort (e.g., spouse or parents) are not available.

7) Plushies can helps with trauma

Stuffed animals can be a useful tool in some therapies. For someone who has suffered trauma, particularly childhood trauma, a stuffed animal can help in therapy practices. This is particularly true in situations of neglect or abuse.

One way to do this is by giving the individual a stuffed animal to take care of. They can use this to learn how to properly care for and love the stuffed animal in a way a parent should (and in a way that was missing in their childhood). This can help with healing and forgiveness, improve self-esteem and happiness, and reduce feelings of anger or self-loathing. It can also help a child or adult unlearn destructive behaviours, preparing them for a potential future with their children of their own. 

8) Stuffed animals brings us back to our childhood

Nostalgia is something felt by most people at different points in their life. However, a particular area of nostalgia comes from childhood. Childhood is typically a time filled with joy, happiness, and simplicity. And many have fond memories from those times. Since stuffed animals are most prevalent in childhood, keeping some in adulthood can transport people back to those times and invoke positive feelings and emotions from one’s youth. This can be especially helpful during difficult or stressful times.

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