Stuffed animals are the quintessential child’s toy. But who says they are just for kids? More and more adults have come out as stuffed animal fans. One woman admitted her stuffy got her through some tough nights battling COVID, while one research group found that one in 10 millennial men still slept with a stuffed animal. So why is it still taboo for adults to have stuffed animals? After all, adults can find the same degree of comfort and security with a childhood teddy bear or cute stuffed animal given to them by a loved one as they did when they were a kid. Not convinced? Here are six benefits of owning stuffed animals as an adult.
#1 They Can Help Reduce Stress When Life Gets Crazy
In the same way that our furry pet companions help to reduce stress, so can a stuffed animal. The soft fur is comforting on multiple levels and, like our pets, can reduce anxiety-driven cortisol levels, leading to other health issues. And while we might love our pets, too, it’s a little easier to bring an elephant stuffed animal to bed than a therapy horse. Plus, you don’t have to have your stuffy certified as a Companion Animal to take with you wherever you need.
#2 They Can Improve Our Mental Health
Animal-assisted therapy has been around for quite some time. It has even been proven that petting a live animal releases mood-boosting hormones like serotonin, prolactin and oxytocin. Some doctors and psychotherapists believe that while it may not achieve quite the same response as a live animal that can react with loving licks and purrs, a stuffed animal is a close second. For adults with severe allergies, a stuffed animal may be just the thing and quite similar to animal-assisted therapy.
Stuffed animals are even recommended for adults suffering from mental disorders like PTSD, bipolar and depression to help them live a fuller, happier life. And when 50 percent of adults in the U.S. have a mental health disorder to some degree, it’s safe to say that stuffed animals should be a more significant part of our lives.
#3 They Bring Back Pleasant Memories of Our Childhood
While seemingly simple, another benefit of owning stuffed animals as an adult is that they can reignite pleasant memories of your childhood or someone special. Sometimes, a memorable childhood stuffed animal holds weight in our hearts that can’t be matched and brings us a sense of nostalgia. Some adults even hold onto stuffed animals that their partner gave them as a Valentine’s Day gift when they were a teenager or won them at the county fair on their first date. A stuffed animal might also carry strong memories of those we have lost, and holding them can make adults and children alike feel as though they are still connected.
#4 They Help Us Move Through Grief and Existential Fears
Feeling connected to someone through a stuffed animal can also help us move through various stages of the grieving process. But that’s just the beginning. For example, when a close family member, friend or loved one passes away, a stuffed animal can offer comfort to adults who might also feel alone and isolated. In the same vein, a stuffed animal can ease other emotions that come along with grief, such as an existential crisis or existential fears that many adults might feel when reflecting on the past. But when you need to feel instant comfort, a stuffed animal will always be there for you.
#5 They Offer Companionship When Friends Are Far
As adults, it’s hard to make friends. And often, even our best of friends move away or get busy enough that making time to see each other gets harder and harder. So, at times, it can feel lonely, to say the least. But stuffed animals can offer a little bit of companionship when you feel alone or a bit like a recluse. Even if you are a social butterfly at work or through social media, you might come home to an empty apartment that feels a little cold and unwelcoming. So if you ever need to feel connected and less alienated, pick up a stuffed animal and give it a good cuddle. While it may not be the same as a great big bear hug from your dad, it can help relieve loneliness.
#6 They Are a Snuggly ‘Transitional’ Object
There is what is known as a “transitional” object during childhood development. Kids cling to all sorts of “transitional” objects, from pacifiers to blankets. But one of the most well-known transitional objects is a stuffed animal that they can cuddle and snuggle with at night. It helps them feel comfortable and safe and allows them to be courageous against the monsters in the closet or under the bed. For some children, a stuffed animal is their lifeline between various stages of their lives. For adults, these “transitional” stuffies can offer the same sort of lifeline during colossal life changes, whether it’s moving their family across the country or even navigating through a divorce. The transitional periods might be heavy, mature situations, but that doesn’t mean a stuffed animal can’t be there to get you through these monumental stages of your adult life.
Find a Favorite Stuffed Animal
From teddy bears to cartoon characters, stuffed animals are there when you need them. Don’t have a stuffed animal lying around? It’s not too late to take advantage of all the benefits of owning stuffed animals as an adult. Whether you purchase a cute stuffed animal care package online or dig through boxes in your parents’ attic for ones that you remember from childhood, bring home a few stuffies today to be there in times of need. Keeping stuffed animals as an adult is not forbidden, nor should it be considered creepy. It’s simply a symbol of comfort, security and everlasting youth.