How fidget spinners can help PTSD sufferers

How fidget spinners can help PTSD sufferers

The power of distraction.

It’s an amazing tool in many situations, from calming fretful toddlers to helping adults though the ravages of chronic anxiety. It’s also a way for people to manage the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in everyday life.

Which is where a ‘simple kids toy’ comes in handy. The fidget spinner.

It has been shown that various mental health issues can be soothed by using a device that is reassuring, close at hand and creates a soothing pattern or repeated action.

The positive effects of fidgeting!

If you think about it, self-soothing fidgeting is an everyday occurrence for everyone. Whether you bite your nails, twist your hair or rub your hands on your legs, a simple repetitive action can calm your nerves. They all involve some sort of body movement too, to quieten our minds and channel attention to a task.

When the fidget spinner became a popular craze, therapists quickly realised that it had important benefits for those with PTSD and various forms of anxiety. It was a tool to support mindful fidgeting.

If you are at work, on a bus or in some other public situation, having a fidget spinner to hand is an instant source of comfort; a safety behaviour. If someone is suffering from flashbacks, a panic attack or a ‘loop’ of negative thoughts, they can focus on the patterns created with a fidget spinner instead.

This is why fidget spinners have also been recommended to help with ADHD, autism and other conditions in which ritual and distraction from rumination can build calm. In the young, it also provides a ritual that’s socially acceptable, as fidget spinners are such a common sight among their peers.

The science of distraction

Like fidget spinners, stress balls are categorised as a rapid stress management technique (RSMT). There has even been research into using stress balls during conscious medical procedures to manage pain and anxiety, with substantial evidence to suggest this works.

However, studies into the value of gadgets such as fidget spinners are scarce, but there have been promising results in research into how such mini-rituals help those with ADHD to focus better.

What works for you?

At the very least fidget spinners are worth a try, to diffuse some of the hypersensitivity, anxiety and rumination associated with PTSD. It’s like all therapies and coping techniques, finding the right combination for each individual is important.

Find out more about PTSD and its treatments. Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.

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