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  • Kelsey Darmochwal

When the Wiggling, Tapping, Clicking, and Lip Biting Take Over

How to harness the power of fidgeting

What is fidgeting?

-Fidgeting is the act of moving about restlessly in a way that is not socially recognized as essential

to ongoing tasks or events. Fidgeting can be leg or finger tapping, hair twirling, rocking or pacing, lip biting, pen or clothing chewing, pen clicking, or a variety of other repeated movements.

Who fidgets?

- People who are dealing with heightened feelings of stress, anxiety, or boredom. Some people may also fidget because they are intensely focused - which may seem a bit "backwards" to others in the school or workplace environment because of a misunderstanding that fidgeting is unrelated to the task or event.

Why do people fidget?

- Fidgeting is a response to anxiety or boredom, caused by an increased amount of stress hormones which is released to help the body prepare for a fight or flight response.

How does fidgeting help?

- Fidgeting is a way to provide the body with stress relief by reducing stress hormones, improving concentration by activating areas of the brain that help with memory and understanding, and even help regulate metabolism for people who are working or learning in locations that do not meet their bodies need to move.

Can fidgeting hurt?

- If fidgeting becomes problematic by causing physical harm from the repitition, or that they are feeling pressured by others to stop the fidgeting because it is distracting, the fidgeting is becoming a concern that needs to be addressed.

Tips for Fidgeting

1. If fidgeting is causing physical harm, speak with a therapist or occupational therapist about options to replace this behavior with one that will not further this health concern. Sometimes harmful fidgeting can be a sign of a sensory processing or integration disorder, or a different health concern that needs further treatment.

2. Understanding why you fidget can be helpful in talking to others who may be bothered by this. A therapist who is understanding in the needs of clients with anxiety, ADHD, or other neurodiverse behavior can help you explore assertive communication skills to try to help others understand.

3. Explore different ways to fidget that can meet your needs, but can be more appropriate in a wider range of settings. I personally know of over 100 different ways to fidget using a variety of senses, some with aids such as a fidget spinner or note book, some with using only movement with your body.

- One excellent fidget that can be used when taking notes is to doodle information trees, with

branches connecting key concepts together. Making small drawings of what is being discussed, such as a quick and simple doodle of a character when discussing literature or an important figure or item when learning about history can increase your attention and memory.

Give these fidgets a try and Call me for a free consultation if you believe you could benefit from learning more of these skills.

The contents of this website, such as text, graphics, images, and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your condition. Never disregard professional advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on

If you are in crisis or you think you may have an emergency, go to the emergency room or call 911 immediately. If you're having suicidal thoughts, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area at any time (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline). If you are located outside the United States, call your local emergency line immediately.

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