Feeling Stressed? Try Hands-Free Balloon Elevation Therapy (HBET)

I’ve noticed a lot of stress in the environment lately, afflicting friends and loved ones alike. I am certainly not immune, so in an effort to lighten our collective loads, I decided to, well, bat a balloon around. This is what I discovered.

Hands-free balloon elevation therapy (HBET) is a unique healing modality for persons suffering the effects of high stress. The basic technique involves keeping an inflated balloon in the air, using any part of the body except the hands. The balloon must not touch the floor.

Youngsters may know this game colloquially as “Keep it Up”.

Essentially, HBET is an aeronautic version of soccer, albeit with no net and no scoring, and a softer, more forgiving form of ball. It also shares traits in common with volleyball, but with neither net nor boundaries, nor silly rules about “lifting” or “double-hitting” (which, having witnessed any number of high school games appear to be arbitrary judgments unduly favouring one side).

As a healing technique, HBET can be embraced by a single individual, although it tends to be most effective when engaged by two or more persons. Brightly coloured balloons are highly recommended for their mood-lightening effects. It is helpful to keep a scattering of fully inflated balloons on hand, particularly during times of high stress. (If you have dogs in the house, you may need to quarantine the balloons in a safe zone to avoid unexpected rupture and resultant yelping.)

During sessions, laughter typically ensues, accompanied by side-holding, foot-stomping and an occasional sputter. Early studies indicate that the older the players, the more elevated their education or job title, the greater the laughter effect, and consequently, the larger the reduction in blood pressure, muscle tension and general grouchiness.

HBET is highly recommended for neck and shoulder tension, as well as for reducing butt-clench. (As my massage therapist Amanda noted, “You hold a lot of tension in your butt. When you’re tense, you clench your cheeks.” She usually makes this observation while using her forearm like a rolling pin on my fist-like gluteus medias muscles.)

HBET has many variations, but, at a minimum, it must always be hands-free (otherwise, it would just be BT, and two letters do not a decent acronym make). Variations include nosers, head only, knees/feet/elbows, and so on. Two or more balloons may also be used, albeit this is considered advanced technique.

Patients are warned against substituting other objects for the balloon, lest serious injury result. Similarly, it is recommended that patients remain fully clothed at all times.

(Warning: this is absolutely NOT medical advice.)


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