The Fidget Spinner Spin

Are you asking yourself, what is a fidget spinner? Don’t feel bad if you are, I had to google it too.  While that might mean that we both live under rocks, a fidget spinner is basically the newest iteration of a tool for doing something that most of us do already.  It is a plastic frame with three holes in it that you spin around, giving you something to do with your hands. To me it seems similar to doodling, tapping a pen, twisting a lock of hair, drumming your fingers, squeezing a stress ball or silly putty, or knitting (which seemed to be all the rage in work meetings ten years ago).  There are a lot of claims being made about the mental health benefits that come with the use of a fidget spinner, none seem to be substantiated with research, but anecdotally we do know that some people experience relief when engaging in these sorts of repetitive actions.

Repetitive movements can be soothing, almost meditative for some people. Moving your hand over and over, in the same way, can be a mindful experience, which tends to move people out of their heads and back into their bodies.  In that way, someone who experiences anxiety as an endless assault of future-oriented-worry-thoughts might find that the repetitive twisting of the fidget spinner helps them move away from that barrage and back to the present moment.  For that reason, knitting and crocheting are activities that I often recommend to my clients as a means of becoming more mindful and present.

Other people may need the physical action associated with the fidget spinner in order to be able to focus. This reminds me of past experiences working with children some of whom had ADHD, and I found that the therapy was much more productive when it was accompanied by bouncing a ball or going for a walk.  It seemed that for them doing something in addition to talking improved their ability to concentrate on the conversation.

Honestly, fidget spinners seem a little gimmicky to me.  Most of the other forms of “fidgeting” that I listed at the beginning of this post are free and probably work just as well.

Emma Steiner, MSW, LCSW
Staff Therapist
Associate Director of Clinical and Business Operations
Staff Therapist, University City, and Center City Offices
215-382-6680 ext. 4279

Emma Steiner is a licensed clinical social worker and marriage and family therapist. She is a dynamic, empathic, and collaborative therapist who both supports and challenges clients in order to help them accomplish their goals in therapy. To make an appointment with Emma, click here.