Everyone had a favorite toy when they were young. Whether it was a teddy bear, a doll, a blanket, or some other toy, most of us had something soft we liked to cuddle to give us comfort.
As we get older, it's not as common to continue to carry a bear with you everywhere you go, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't still happen. As it turns out, there are actually a lot of benefits to keeping your favorite childhood toy around.
According to one study, 35% of women and 25% of men still keep their childhood toys close, using them for comfort when they are stressed.
The connection to their new favorite toy usually starts young. Traditionally, a favorite toy is selected within the first six months of life and according to psychologist Angela Joyce, babies will "choose something that becomes special and is used at times of separation." Psychologists refer to them as "transitional objects" because of how they stay with us through our life changes.
As they grow older and have to soothe themselves in times of separation from their parents, this object will start to fill the void. The toy provides a level of comfort that they wouldn't otherwise have, and in addition to that, having something like a bear or a doll that you're bonded with teaches you a lot about how to play, which is more important than you might think.
But there are four main psychological benefits that our teddy bears give us, and they are valuable for our entire lives.
The memories you make with your favorite teddy bear are something you will always have. They bring you comfort in troubled times, which is why holding onto that bear into your adult years is actually beneficial.
If you're experiencing a stressful time, you can look to your bear and remember all of those times that it gave you a sense of security as a child, and it kind of brings you right back into that mindset. It's a simple stress-reliever that doesn't take much time or effort.
Someone gave you that bear, whether it was your parents, an aunt or uncle, a grandparent, or a friend, and every time you look at it you have this little connection to them that brings you joy.
It's a different kind of memory, one that gives you a feeling of warmth because you know there is someone out there on the planet that wanted to make you smile with this bear, and it's a comfort that many of us are lucky to have.
Holding onto a symbol of your childhood gives you a little bit of that innocence and child-like wonder to carry with you.
The thing most adults tend to lose as they grow is their sense of whimsy. While they may no longer look to their cuddly toy to share their secrets with, having it with you reminds you that you at one point trusted that bear more than anything or anyone else.
Sure, you may have a lot of responsibilities in your life now, but that doesn't mean you can't also allow a little bit of fun. Think of your bear as a reminder to embrace that whimsy from time to time.
While the other three factors work on your mental state, the final benefit actually connects to your physical interaction to the bear.
Actually touching or hugging the bear gives you the ability to hold onto something soft, which actually provides some benefits psychologically. The softness of the bear can actually relive tension, causing you to relax and lower your heart rate. It's a simple technique, but a mixture of the soft and fluffy bear along with the other three factors can help you remain calm in stressful situations.