Pop-its, fidget spinners, stress balls—using toys to occupy your hands for things like stress relief isn't a new concept. But if you've been noticing more and more "adult" fidget spinners (and other fidget toys) for grown-ups, it's because more and more brands are recognizing the need is there for adults with sensory needs, ADHD, autism, and those who just feel better when they keep their hands busy. The industry has expanded quite broadly to include some creative, engaging, and quite sophisticated fidget toys to help you focus.
- Serenity Serseción, PhD, licensed psychologist at LevelUpPsych
Are fidget toys actually useful?
Focus tools and fidget toys are an essential part of any psychology practice, says Serenity Serseción, PhD, licensed psychologist, practicing at LevelUpPsych in Sunnyvale, California, who has been a clinical psychologist for 15 years. "I use fidget toys constantly in my practice. I recommend them and have a box of them in my office during sessions," says Dr. Sersecíon. "For anxiety, it is helpful by externalizing anxious energy, which lowers your anxiety, so your brain can focus. It has a similar but smaller effect to exercise when it is not possible, such as in a work situation."
The thing is, sitting still and paying attention without other stimulation is hard for everyone, says Dr. Sersecíon, but some folks have a lower threshold than others. Think back to the last time you had a full schedule of Zoom meetings. You probably felt jittery, bored, or under-stimulated at some point. "Sometimes your brain needs more stimulation to stay focused. By using fidget toys, you are giving your brain something else to focus on," says Dr. Sersecíon. That sensory input can actually help you stay attentive even as your meeting drones on.
The nice part about these compact focus tools is they can be used very discreetly in online meetings and IRL. They also contain a broad spectrum of features, which include different textures, repetitive movements, different shapes, and dexterity features. Most have unique fidget features, like a cube with several sides offering various options. Other toys have soft squishy textures if malleability is satisfying for you. When selecting these focus tools, it is really all about what works for you.
Here are some of the most engaging fidget toys for adults currently on the market to add to your WFH setup or slip in your commuter bag.
Best Fidget Toys for Adults
If arranging and rearranging is satisfying to you when you fidget, these silicone magnet pieces offer a quiet chance to build different shapes and rearrange in endless shapes. This is perfect for someone who doesn’t necessarily like to fidget by repeatedly doing one motion, but instead likes to slowly arrange pieces or assemble something with an overarching goal.
The cube is a focus tool that offers a lot of different options for movement. Some folks like the idea of having different ways to move their hands on one toy, especially if they can only really have one fidget toy on them at work or school. This is great for fidgeters who like different kinds of repetitive movement.
The fidget cube has six different features on each side: Click, Glide, Flip, Breathe, Roll and Spin. These features are great for reducing anxiety and pressure.
The mini pop it keychain offers a quiet side and a loud side. This toy allows someone to fidget by popping the circular buttons formed in the plastic. This is great for someone who likes to fidget in the same way over and over. This is not ideal for someone who needs a quiet, discrete toy to play with during meetings.
This magnetic cube is a perfect example of a fidget toy developed specifically for adults. The small cubes are made up of 512 or 1,000 Neodymium magnets. These would not be safe for children, but for adults they offer the change to squish, mold, separate, or arrange in relatively endless ways. The cube comes with a steel base to build different shapes of magnet sculptures. The materials are also quite quiet, so there’s not too much of a concern about them being overheard on a Zoom meeting.
For those who want a simple, cute toy on hand, this endearing keychain offers a squishy interactive fidgeting when you pop the beads out and push them back in. This focus tool is not necessarily for constant repetitive fidgeting, but for someone who needs something nearby in case they don’t know what to do with their hands.
The sensory genius band is a wearable fidget device that allows busy hands to be active by rubbing, stroking, or pulling on the tiny extended pieces. The band is a textured silicone that is also potentially satisfying to bend and curl. The reviews for this product emphasize that the spiky texture is satisfying for some folks. One reviewer also specified that she wears it in order to prevent herself from picking her skin, because pulling on the silicone spikes offers a similar stimulation to skin picking.
For people who work in an environment that may not be conducive to fidget toys or focus tools, this ring can offer some relief in situations where fidgeting would be super helpful and calming. Discrete and commonplace, this ring can accompany you anywhere and offer some spinny sensations.
Chewelry is a category of fidget toys or sensory products that can support people who need to (or prefer to) chew on things while they concentrate. This is a common habit of people with ADHD and autism. Instead of nail biting or chewing things that are unsafe for teeth, these products can offer an outlet that benefits the wearer.
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