Managing Anxiety with Fidget Toys in the Workplace

Anxiety at work is common, whether it stems from stressful projects, impending deadlines

Managing Anxiety with Fidget Toys in the Workplace

Anxiety at work is common, whether it stems from stressful projects, impending deadlines, workplace conflicts, or other triggers. While too much anxiety can clearly hinder job performance and wellbeing, some anxiety can be motivating and even beneficial for productivity. The key is keeping it at moderate, helpful levels through effective anxiety management techniques. For some people, fidget toys have emerged as useful discretionary tools to prevent anxiety from spiraling out of control at work. But do they really help?

How Fidget Toys Could Help with Work Anxiety

Fidget toys encompass a wide range of small, manipulative objects used for sensory stimulation and fiddling. They provide an outlet for nervous energy and anxiety through subtle tactile, auditory, or visual stimulation. Common examples include fidget cubes and spinners, tangles, kinetic putty, snap bracelets, and bendable figurines. Used discreetly, they allow a sense of “professional fidgeting” during anxiety-inducing situations.

Experts speculate fidget toys may help mitigate work anxiety in a few key ways:

  • Occupying restless hands - Gives anxious hands and fingers something small and non-disruptive to manipulate
  • Redirecting focus - Shifts attention from worrying thoughts to a physical object
  • Releasing nervous energy - Channels pent-up stress and agitation into harmless fidgeting
  • Providing a sensory outlet - The tactile input can have a self-soothing, calming effect
  • Boosting concentration - For some, it paradoxically allows better focus on work tasks
  • Aiding emotional regulation - Creates a subtle sense of control over anxiety levels

Research on Effectiveness for Work Anxiety

Studies testing the effectiveness of fidget toys for workplace anxiety are still quite limited. But some small trials provide initial evidence:

  • A 2018 study of 90 office workers found using a fidget spinner for 5 minutes reduced self-reported anxiety levels more than just taking a break. Participants were subjected to induced stress before choosing to fidget or take a break.
  • A 2016 study tried fidget cubes with a small group of university students with anxiety. 70% felt the cubes helped them concentrate during lectures and tasks.
  • A 2020 experimental study subjected workers to a high-pressure scenario with and without access to a fidget toy. Nervous fidgeting behaviors reduced significantly when workers could use the toy.

However, other studies show no benefit of fidget toys for work performance or anxiety when compared to regular work breaks. Researchers caution larger and longer-term trials are still needed.

Guidelines for Using Fidget Toys at Work

While the jury is out on their definitive effectiveness, fidget toys show some promise for discreetly managing anxiety in appropriate workplace scenarios. Experts and experienced fidgeters suggest these best practices:

  • Use toys very discreetly and as unobtrusively as possible to avoid disrupting others. Fidgeting should be private and subtle.
  • Try different toys to find the fidget methods most soothing but not distracting for you personally.
  • Limit use to circumstances directly causing anxiety, rather than all the time. Fidgeting may lose impact if done constantly.
  • Avoid noisy, smelly, or overly distracting toys. Stick to silent, subtle manipulation.
  • Consider toys with varying features/sides to keep hands engaged in more complex ways for better focus.
  • Stop immediately if the toy ever increases stress or becomes compulsive. Discontinue use if problems arise.
  • Recognize fidget toys are not solutions by themselves. Use them alongside other healthy stress management techniques.
  • Set reasonable policies for toy use and storage with supervisors to avoid perceived misuse.
  • Remember overall anxiety control requires identifying and modifying the root sources of workplace anxiety as well.

With some discretion and self-awareness, fidget toys may offer a convenient, discreet way to self-regulate tension and anxiety during stressful moments at work. They likely work best for mild to moderate anxiety as part of a larger stress management plan. By providing a subtle sensory outlet, they may help prevent rising anxiety from spiraling out of control and derailing work productivity.

Date Of Update: 09 November 2023, 05:05