In a world that values stillness and unwavering focus, fidgeting often gets a bad rap. It can be considered a sign of restlessness or distraction, leading to an undesirable behavior that needs to be curbed. However, fidgeting is not only common, but also serves a purpose for both neurotypical and neurodiverse individuals. People from all walks of life engage in fidgeting to help regulate their moods and emotions, be it through whistling, stroking hair, clicking, or tapping fingers and toes. In this blog, we'll explore the fascinating world of fidgeting- highlight the benefits, and banish those bogeyman beliefs.
Where fidgeting gets a bad wrap is usually mis-directed or disruptive fidgeting- when one persons ‘stim’ disturbs, distracts others or causes harm.
The solution? Fidget toys!
Sensory fidget toys and resources by nature of function and effect are usually silent and subtle, often private to the user and not disruptive to others, whether it be the subtlely of fidget ring jewelry, a wobble cushion, or rad hands roller; benefits can be gained, and negatives diminished.
Here are some self regulating benefits to using Sensory Fidget resources.
1. Stress Relief: Fidgeting is an instinctive response to stress and anxiety. It allows individuals to release pent-up nervous energy and provides a sense of relief during tense situations. Engaging in fidgeting movements, such as pulling at a tactile stretchy stress string or squeezing a stress ball, can help reduce cortisol levels and promote a feeling of calmness.
2. Improved Focus: Contrary to popular belief, fidgeting can actually enhance focus and concentration. For many people, subtle fidgeting movements help them maintain attention during tasks that require prolonged mental effort. It's like a way of keeping the brain awake and engaged with tactile and repetitive subtle motor movements or actions like twisting an infinity cube inside out, or sliding a pocket pal around and around, or actioning the repetitive sensation of a fidget marble in cloth- They are relatively non cognitively demanding, and subtle self regulating sensory activity that improves focus.
3. Boredom Buster: Boredom can be a productivity killer, and a source of restless stress build up, disrupting others; at home or in the classroom, and adding pressure on parents, siblings, or teachers. This is where fidget toy resources come to the rescue!
Engaging in fidgeting play, like using repetitive flippy fidgets, or roller chain with the fingers or body, provides a subtle form of sensory stimulation, distraction from disruptive behaviour and provides great entertainment. Like for example- taking the pain out of long car trips; a fidget kit can be a saviour for everyone!
4. Sensory Comfort: Fidgeting often involves repetitive motions or tactile sensations, offering comfort and grounding. People with sensory processing sensitivities, such as those with autism,SPD, ADHD, and Cerebral Palsy find fidgeting beneficial by providing the sensory input they need to navigate their environment more comfortably. All sensory needs can be different, and the playful and soft feeling of a Koosh ball in the hand can make that difference to someone feeling secure enough to get them out the door and on with their day.
5. Emotional Regulation: Fidgeting serves as a powerful tool for emotional regulation, and when matched with a fidget toy they can engage with it can allow individuals to channel their emotions in a healthy and non-disruptive manner. When feeling anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed, engaging in fidgeting movements through resources such as the tactile experience of DNA balls, or textured sensory balls can help individuals cope with these emotions effectively.
6. Body Awareness - Proprioception: Fidgeting engages different parts of the body and enhances proprioception, which is the awareness of one's body position and movements in space. An example could be the subtle rocking of an individual lying in a Balance board whilst reading. This improved body awareness contributes to better coordination and physical self-awareness.
7. Coping Mechanism: Fidgeting acts as a coping mechanism, providing individuals with an outlet to manage challenging situations or emotions. Having a pocketful of squishy animals to squeeze, or a chewie chew necklace to knibble, are healthier alternatives to otherwise harmful coping strategies that people might resort to when dealing with stress or discomfort.
8. Nervous Habit: While fidgeting has numerous benefits, it's essential to differentiate between constructive fidgeting and excessive or disruptive fidgeting. In some cases, excessive fidgeting may be a sign of an underlying problem, such as anxiety or attention-related conditions. Understanding the distinction can help address potential concerns and seek appropriate support if needed.
Embrace the Benefits of Constructive Fidgeting: Fidgeting is not just restlessness; it's a natural and functional part of life for people of all backgrounds and neurotypes. Rather than trying to suppress fidgeting tendencies, individuals can embrace its positive aspects through appropriate sensory resources.
Fidget tool resources, such as Fidget kits, giant stress balls, or bubble pops, can play a significant role in helping individuals fidget constructively, offering discreet and safe ways to channel fidgeting behaviour, so individuals can experience the benefits without causing distractions or disruptions to others.
Fidgeting is a universal behavior and used with appropriate sensory fidget resources can offer individuals safe tools for self-regulation, stress relief and overall well-being.