Toys that help children with anxiety have grown in popularity over the past few years.
Fidgets, spinners, and squishy toys are handy to keep around to help relieve stress.
Yes, there may be mixed feelings if these toys actually work, but a lot of people who use them swear by them.
Can fidget toys help with anxiety or OCD? There is no scientific research that shows fidgets can help improve anxiety or OCD.
Anecdotal evidence, however, finds that the distraction offered by moving your fingers directs focus away from any nervousness you may be feeling.
The hand motion lets you concentrate and reconnect with your body, which is a calming experience.
Other than that, they’re just plain fun! Read on to find out why some people believe fidgets help them relieve stress.
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Why Do We Fidget?
Most people fidget because they are anxious or bored. When the body experiences anxiety, the stress hormones are elevated. These hormones get released to prepare your muscles for sudden physical exertion.
However, if there is nothing for you to run away from, the energy has nowhere to go. Shaking your leg then becomes the next best thing to help relieve the build-up somewhat.
Fidgeting when you’re bored, gives your brain something to focus on. Spinning a pen or drumming your fingers are therefore soothing and limits less direct fidgeting like biting your nails.
Interestingly enough, fidgeting is great at improving memory. Scientists believe due to fidgeting lowering levels of cortisol – a stress hormone – people can remember and recall information more easily.
Studies have shown that it is beneficial to encourage kids with ADHD to wriggle or move their limbs. It helps to direct their focus, whereas making them sit still had the opposite effect.
Fidgets are also useful in helping kids with Autism. Not only does it manage anxiety and improve attention, but it also helps these kids deal with emotions.
Kids on the Autism spectrum experience specific emotions like anger or frustration more intensely than their peers.
Having a fidget nearby for them during such times can help them navigate the surge of emotions. It’s especially helpful during stimming or when hand flapping.
Although sensory items have helped a lot of people – adults at their desks as well as children in classrooms – are they really necessary?
If you’re a fidgeter, you will know that you can find something to fidget with without having to spend a dime. Anything from a piece of string on your shirt to a pen will work.
But, some of us are suckers for gizmos. If you’re one of us, read on for a list of fidget toys.
Some are more involved toys like a mini Rubik’s cube, while others are soothing squishy toys to squeeze away any stress.
Ten Toys That Can Help With Anxiety
Anxiety is widespread, but in the US, it is the most common mental health disorder. It affects nearly one-third of Americans in their lifetimes.
So, is it any wonder that people are looking for something to use that will help – even if it is a fidget toy?
1. Fidget Spinner
Whenever someone says fidget toys, the first thing most people will think of is the fidget spinner.
These toys have bearings that keep them moving, and the more bearings, the better the spin!
2. Fidget Pen
This one is for the grownups, especially those who attend the meeting after meeting during the day.
Face it, taking a fidget spinner or squishy toy in when you’re meeting with your boss isn’t very professional.
They’ll be none the wiser if you use a fidget pen to ease your nerves. These pens have a lot of fidgeting functions to keep your fingers busy and relieve stress.
3. Flippy Chain
A Flippy Chain is another one of the fidget toys out there that are meant for grownups. The chain is made up of links and rings that you can move into countless shapes and positions.
4. Fidget Ball
The Fidget Ball is a series of rings linked together; each ring is aluminum giving it a smooth texture, which can be very soothing.
Although not really a ball, the shape promotes dexterity. Using your fingers to rotate the rings around and around will keep those digits limber.
5. Roller Chain
Made from silicone, this is a great fidget to use under a conference table or when you want to soothe your anxiety discreetly.
The sensation of the silicone rings against your skin can be a much needed tactile sedative.
6. Tangle Toy
This is kind of like a therapeutic snake. Curvy pieces are attached to joints and interlinked in a long loop. Each segment twists and moves individually.
The FDA has actually certified this toy with a Medical Device Establishment Registration due to its healing properties.
It strengthens, restores, and rehabilitates hand and finger joints and is great to use to make your anxiety go away.
7. Newton’s Cradle
You’ve likely seen this ‘toy’ on the table of high-powered execs in movies (or in real life). It’s a classic, consisting of spheres that hang from a frame. If you draw one ball back and release it, it creates a pendulum effect.
8. Play Dough
It’s basically the same as the stuff you played with when you were a kid. The only difference between kids’ play dough and this is that it’s also infused with calming essential oils!
We all know the allure of soft and squishy stress balls. It’s like you just can’t stop yourself from touching it.
The only problem is that stress balls can be a little awkward to carry around. But, not to worry, you get smaller options.
10. Zen Garden
Raking patches of gravel and sand can promote a meditative state which will relax your mind. It’s perfect for keeping on your desk for when you get a little stressed and want to take a break.
There you have it, ten fidget toys that will focus you, calm you, and keep you entertained for hours on end.