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.
- 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.
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