Fidget Toys For Anxiety
By: Mason Komay
Updated February 02, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Laura Angers
Recently, there has been a craze about fidget toys. Fidget toys are small devices that you can spin between your fingers. If you have kids, you've probably been forced to buy a fidget spinner or toy. While most kids just see them as fun to play with, many people who use fidget toys claim they provide them with a means of creating a calming sensory experience. Bearing in mind that most of the time people are glued to their screens due to the increase of technology, fidget toys come as a refreshing change. The trend began in 2017, and in most homes and even some classrooms one would find almost every kid with a fidget toy.
There are, however, concerns about the usefulness of these devices for anxiety and whether or not they should be allowed in the hands of children and young adults. So, what's the big deal about fidget toys for anxiety? The answer might surprise you.
More About Fidget Toys for Anxiety
Fidget toys are colorful, handheld devices that users rotate between their fingers. They are typically small enough to fit into one's pocket. While most young children see them as something fun to play with, many people who use fidget toys claim that they get a calming sensory experience from them. Fidget toys can take different shapes and forms, but most of them are made up of disc-holding, paddle-like wings that are designed to spin between your fingers with little-to-no effort.
Fidget toys are designed to keep your hands engaged in simple, repetitive movements that enable you to easily disregard certain distractions like smells, claustrophobia, lights, and sound. If you find yourself in a situation where these distractions are too overwhelming then the use of a fidget toy can come in handy to greatly reduce stress and anxiety. Interestingly, even a simple object such as a pen can be used as a fidget toy, which is why you might find yourself clicking one from time to time.
Do Fidget Toys Really Help with Anxiety?
Most people who've used fidget toys have reported improved focus in scenarios like sitting still in a meeting or when performing various tasks. Initially, fidget toys were made for the purpose of helping people deal with stress, though reduced anxiety quickly became a positive side-effect. Occupational therapists have been using fidget toys to help children deal with conditions like ADD, ADHD, and autism for quite some time. They are becoming increasingly more popular worldwide as more and more people grow aware of the amazing benefits.
How It Works
Fidget toys for anxiety offer an ideal distraction for people who have trouble focusing. In the case of treating severe anxiety, they're extremely valuable because most of the time they are used together with other treatments and medications. The continuous spinning and twirling of the colorful gadget helps to keep the hands busy and it provides sensory stimulation for those affected by anxiety disorders.
Those who deal with anxiety disorders can attest to the fact that their condition affects their entire body. Common side-effects usually occur in the hands and fingers with symptoms like shaking, cramping, restlessness, and tingling sensations. Fidget toys can serve as a distraction from certain anxiety symptoms and can provide a soothing satisfaction for those with sensory complications. They've also been shown to be effective in helping victims calm their nerves when they enter an episode of severe tension and stress.
Some people choose to relieve anxiety by biting their nails, pulling their hair, fiddling with jewelry, or even simply by placing their hands in their pockets. If you've ever found yourself doing any of these things, don't worry - you're not alone. One should also note that fidget toys do not actually cure anxiety. Instead, the act of fidgeting is used as a method to help the victim cope through an episode with a soothing and satisfying temporary relief.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Fidget Toy
There are a variety of fidget toys that come in different shapes, colors, and sizes. Choosing the right one depends on your personal preferences, tastes, and other factors that you should put into consideration. Take a look below.
- Cost - Keep in mind that a high price tag doesn't necessarily mean high-quality. When the popular fidget toys first hit the market back in 2017, prices went up as high as $199 for the "best of the best," meaning brass, copper, and titanium spinners. However, in 2019, you can find units online for as low as $2.
- Material - You'll want to make sure that your selection is composed of a durable material, such as stainless steel or titanium so that you don't have to constantly replace it. If you have a preference for soft or squeezy textures, consider purchasing a stress ball or something of that nature.
- Design - You can find fidget toys of all sorts of crazy and unique designs for purchase, it all depends on what you're looking for. Commonly, the most popular gadgets are in the form of spinners, cubes, and even puzzle pieces.
- Extra Features - If you prefer extra features on your gadgets, such as glowing LED lights or extra things to twiddle with, you're in luck. There are virtually hundreds of unique and efficient devices that include new features for you to discover while browsing online. In fact, there are even some fidget toys that can be combined with essential oils, bringing on additional health benefits as well.
As stated above, fidget toys are used by therapists as a method to help calm down those with anxiety. However, shortly after these devices hit the market, it became common to see them in work and school environments, which raised concerns about their actual efficiency. School authorities began to report them as being a distraction to other classmates and some facilities banned them altogether.
Nevertheless, many doctors and counselors can agree that the benefits of fidget toys for anxiety heavily outweigh the problems that they supposedly cause among children and young adults. However, there have also been some concerns regarding the issue of safety with fidget devices among smaller children. One of them is that fidget toys may pose a choking hazard to infants and toddlers if the toy falls apart.
If you have smaller children running around your household, keep these concerns in mind if you plan on or already have a fidget toy in your home. Children under the age of three should not use fidget toys. As a matter of fact, the best age to introduce fidget toys should be seven. However, this depends on you as a parent and the type of precautions you take when your child is using a fidget tool. Essentially, it's up to you to decide if the pros outweigh the cons for your particular situation.
Alternative Anxiety Solutions
If your anxiety is interfering with your everyday life to the point where you can't seem to focus on anything else, it might be time to seek professional help. Consider trying out some of these alternative anxiety solutions as well.
Instead of clicking your pen, try using it to write down your thoughts, feelings, or anything else you can't seem to shake off your mind. You might find it helpful to exercise your brain by jotting down thoughtful material in a journal to help you relieve stress and tension.
Sometimes, drifting away into music is one of the best ways to cope with your anxiety. If you head over to YouTube, you can find hundreds of relaxing playlists to listen to and enjoy. If that doesn't seem to work, consider exploring new material by some of your favorite artists.
DIY Fidget Toys
If you're not looking to spend any money on a fidget toy, fear not - you can easily make one from home. There are a variety of tutorials on sites like YouTube and Pinterest for all sorts of different DIY fidget toys to help with your anxiety. Give it a shot!
Get Online Counseling with BetterHelp
If you or someone you know is currently struggling with an anxiety disorder, professional help is right around the corner. BetterHelp offers discreet online counseling with licensed therapists who really do care about you. No matter how severe your anxiety is, we've got your back. BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors is available to you from the comfort and privacy of your own home (or wherever you have an internet connection). Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
"Quite frankly, I was initially hesitant to seek any form of counselling. And I was especially nervous when I first matched with Laura because I did not know what to expect. Fortunately, Laura not only help me through each of the life struggles I have been dealing with over the past months but the frequency of my anxiety has reduced significantly. Prior to therapy with Laura I was always very anxious and had a hard time dealing with my thoughts and emotions. But Laura always offered incredible emotional support, listened thoroughly and helped me work on better approaches to what I had been struggling with. Additionally, I would highly recommend Laura and/or Betterhelp to anyone who is seeking counseling."
"Heath has helped me significantly in dealing with my anxiety; he's helped me approach it from different angles and has given me different tools to help me work through situations rather than just reacting or shutting down."
Fidget toys can be used to help greatly reduce stress, tension, and anxiety. If you feel as though you suffer from any of these symptoms, it's definitely worth your time to explore all of the available options and benefits of these nifty little gadgets. A truly fulfilling life where anxiety doesn't hold you back is possible - all you need are the right tools. Take the first step today.
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