Anxiety, Fidgeting and Gadgets (June 2019)
In the many years I have been in private practice, I have observed clients work through uncomfortable feelings in various ways during our sessions. Clients doodle, use fidget spinners, knit, needle point, and play with Silly Putty, to name a few.
I encourage these behaviors, working with clients to discuss strategies that may enable them to eat, help them postpone eating when a binge may occur, and explore ways they can calm themselves down or become more comfortable with being present. I even provide some tools in my office, such as puzzles or cubes, in case a client needs to self-soothe when they feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed.
Research has shown that fidget toys have been effective in improving concentration and focus with students who have ADHD.
Have you thought about activities that may help you to take control over your anxiety so it is manageable instead of your anxiety being in charge of you? Listed below are examples I like to offer clients to help lessen the anxiety.
Art therapy is an effective technique to express words that are difficult to communicate. There are many options to be expressive. Examples include adult or child coloring books, journaling, whether one uses a journaling app or free hand, making collages of pictures from magazines or your own photos, drawing in a sketch book, painting with water colors or using crayons to color or draw. I have had some clients begin a ceramics class which has been a wonderful addition to their lives. I have also had clients make an art project out of their scale with foods that they are learning how to “legalize” or that they are no longer afraid of. There are clinicians that are certified art therapists and they are helpful in using art to support the client in processing or coping with anxiety and other uncomfortable feelings.
Games can be a helpful method of anxiety relief because it challenges the mind, provides distraction, and often involves patterns or repetition that can be calming.
Some examples include Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Mad Libs, board games or computerized games, card games (solitaire), computerized Go Fish, Scrabble or, my personal favorite, “Rush Hour,” which is a fun, puzzle game.
There is nothing like good ole fashioned free-flow writing about anything and everything when in a difficult spot. Begin with a book that is your writing book and write about what is on your mind at this moment, no expectations or thoughts on grammar or what you “should” write, just what you need to get out of your mind and onto paper.
Through your writing, you can even explore recovery tools and options, such as thinking about hobbies you have, or have had in the past, that are not self-destructive. Maybe you could revisit them in your recovery?
Also, consider writing out positive affirmations, quotes, or song lyrics that you like and exploring what they mean to you.
Go outside for some fresh air and…
Sometimes when we change the environment that we are in it helps us to look at things differently. Consider going outside to water the plants or take photos of people, flowers, animals, license plates or anything that catches your eye and inspires you.
Even going for a walk down the block with a friend, loved one, dog, or by yourself can be soothing and help you get out of a funk.
Since we have discussed ways to manage anxiety with and without fidgets, create an intention for yourself this week of something new you can incorporate in your life to help ease anxious and negative feelings. This will be a trial and error as some fidgets/gadgets may or may not work for you.
The point is not to find the perfect coping skill right away, but to open you up to using activities to take control over your anxiety and negative emotions.Being open to the idea is what this is about.
Hopper, D. (2018). How do fidget toys help kids learn and manage anxiety. Retrieved on 02/11/2019 from: https://www.lifeskills4kids.com.au/fidget-toys-help-kids-learn-manage-anxiety/#.W_dfED0W5QY.email