I have treated many individuals with anxiety disorders. In therapy we discuss understanding, coping with, reducing, and managing symptoms of anxiety. We explore triggers, problematic thinking patterns, childhood experiences, fears, worries, etc. We also work on breathing exercises, relaxation strategies, and changing anxious thoughts. At the University where I previously worked, we even handed out stress squeeze-balls in our office, so students could use them for anxiety relief.
There are other strategies and practices aimed at reducing anxiety, from quiet meditation to aerobic exercise and, many things in-between. Enter, fidget spinners. These fidget spinners have both interested me, and created some skepticism, so I decided to try to get to the bottom of their value for people with anxiety. In no way do I mean to trivialize the complexity and pain of an anxiety disorder by suggesting a fidget spinner is the answer, because it certainly is not, but it could help deflect some anxious energy.
The scientific research is limited as to the effectiveness of these devices. Since there does not seem to be a straight answer out there, I am going to present some thoughts as to why I do, in fact, believe fidget spinners can be beneficial to the management of mild anxiety (not severe anxiety). While a fidget spinner cannot replace comprehensive psychological treatment for an anxiety disorder, there is an argument to be made that they have value.
Here are 5 reasons a fidget spinner is worth a try:
- Anxiety is often characterized by fidgeting, so having something in your hand to focus that fidgety energy on can relieve some symptoms of anxiety.
- Exercise also relieves anxiety, and while there is limited “exercise” going on while spinning a gadget, it could relieve some anxious energy, especially if getting up and running around is not appropriate for the context you’re in.
- Anxiety is associated with other behaviors like skin picking, nail biting, and hair pulling, so keeping your hands occupied with a spinner can help to replace those impulses. The idea here is- either way you’re fidgeting, but at least with a spinner you’re not harming yourself.
- They’re fun! Yep, it’s as simple as that. Spinning one of this fidget toys is a pleasurable activity and doing something enjoyable can have a positive effect on the mood.
- They’re cheap and easy to carry around. Less than $10 on Amazon. Truth be told, I own two. I keep one in my work bag and one in my purse. It’s something quick and easy to grab when you just have that urge to fidget, which it seems basically everyone has.
My conclusion, a fidget spinner is obviously not going to solve all the complex issues involved with anxiety, but it is certainly an entertaining and enjoyable way to redirect that all-too-common urge to fidget. Truthfully, as I edit this post, I am spinning my fidget spinner.