Nancy Rothner has dedicated more than two decades to the field of stress reduction; first as a clinical hypnotherapist and then as a product entrepreneur. You see, when she couldn’t find an affordable, holistic stress reliever ideal for her clients and anyone experiencing stress, she invented one. Rothner developed Pinch Me Therapy Dough, a non-prescription, scented putty-like tool that’s at the ready to reduce one’s stress ‘in a pinch’ – or any time for that matter.
Stress is a normal reaction to everyday pressures, per the American Psychological Association. But it can worsen to impact one’s day-to-day functioning, which can greatly affect a person’s mental and physical well-being. Examples of specific diagnoses include acute stress disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and social anxiety, to name a few.
Stress Reduction Through Inclusive Product Design
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a study found that adults with disabilities reported mental distress nearly five times as often as those without disabilities. In 2018, an estimated 17.4 million (32.9%) adults with disabilities said they experienced frequent mental distress, defined as 14 or more mentally unhealthy days within the past 30 days.
Perhaps consequently, fidget toys have gained popularity as a fairly simple, yet effective stress-reliever within the disability community and beyond. People with ADHD, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and generalized anxiety disorder, for example, have turned to these handy devices at record numbers as of late. Fidget toys come in a variety of different forms, such as cubes, putty, spinners, stress balls and chewable pendants.
Pinch Me is best categorized as a putty. Uniquely engaging one’s senses, it’s comprehensive design taps into aromatherapy, chromotherapy and tactile stimulation.
“When someone is around a scent they like, the first thing their body does (as a reflex) is a shift that opens the breath… which starts the opportunity to reduce one’s stress,” Rothner tells AmeriDisability. “The design of Pinch Me also pulls one’s attention to their hands since the brain has so much of its sensitivity wired to the agility in the fingertips. This acts as a quick catalyst to become centered; followed by the kneading action that allows tension to seep out of the fingers without even thinking about it.”
The soft, brightly hued putty is available in about 20 different scents, which can also be paired with a matching mist spray. Some of the fragrances are self-explanatory, like Citrus and Spice, while other namesakes are more so aligned with a desired mood. For example: Bliss is a delicate fusion of lemon and lavender, and Refresh is a soothing cucumber mint blend.
The Pinch Me label isn’t just a descriptive connection to the physical action of manually pinching the putty. Rothner explains that “Pinch Me is probably the most feel-good, happy expression on the planet… those moments that are just too good to be true — the ‘pinch me’ moments.” And since Pinch Me is affordable, convenient and effective… yes, consumers are saying “Pinch Me!”
Because of the clientele she was accustomed to through her clinical practice, Rothner initially assumed that Pinch Me’s primary consumer base would mostly consist of college-aged students and adults. But thanks, in part, to an appearance on the Shark Tank television show, demand for Pinch Me substantially grew, including high numbers of people with disabilities and even people who work within the disability community (such as physical therapists).
In no way does Rothner proclaim that her inclusively designed product guarantees mental or physical healing. It’s intended to be (and is marketed as) a basic stress reduction tool. Still, countless satisfied customers have offered more specific praise about the benefits gained by using Pinch Me. This includes many with specific conditions, like ADHD, ASD, chronic pain, weakened muscles or limited mobility (of hands), spasticity muscles and, of course, stress.
Headquartered in Lewes, Delaware, Pinch Me supports the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit offering mental health support, career counseling and long-term rehabilitative care to veterans and service members and their families. A portion of proceeds financially support the organization, plus Pinch Me product is also provided to military personnel in an affect to combat stress.
In addition to utilizing stress reduction fidget tools, other ways to manage stress include:
- Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense diet
- Getting ample rest/sleep
- Participating in mindfulness practices, like meditation, yoga and journaling
- Spending time in nature
- Speaking with a professional counselor
- Exploring holistic approaches, such as laughter therapy, music therapy, etc.