Fidget spinners aren’t the only anxiety and energy-relief toys on the market. Here, a psychologist breaks down other calm-inducing toys you can tinker with.

By Julia Naftulin
June 26, 2017

Fidget spinners, touted for their ability to stimulate children with ADHD and calm those with anxiety, have invaded schools. But however effective these spinning toys are, teachers are citing them as distractions and hazards to educational environments—one child even swallowed and choked on a piece of her fidget spinner. So what’s a parent to do if his or her child benefits from a spinner? And what if you’re a full-grown adult in need of a little anxiety relief, but can’t fathom bringing a toy to the office?

Fortunately, devices for soothing ADHD and anxiety symptoms are nothing new, and plenty of alternatives to the fidget spinner exist, says Steven Meyers, PhD, a professor and associate chair of psychology at Roosevelt University in Chicago. “Within anxiety populations, anything that serves as a distraction or source of comfort could work,” Dr. Meyers says. For people with ADHD, an object that increases stimulation will help the user focus.

When choosing your energy and anxiety relief object, have modest expectations of its effectiveness. Other actions, like exercising on a regular basis and practicing 30 minutes of deep breathing every day, are shown to dramatically reduce anxiety even more so than these objects, says Dr. Meyers. “Severe anxiety symptoms should be talked about with a medical professional,” he says. “But if treatment isn’t readily available and your anxiety is moderate, these techniques and objects could work well.”

Here, a few simple objects that can do just that. The best part: they’re affordable and may even be readily available in your home.

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