Is Fidgeting Beneficial?
Any cursory research into school systems today would likely turn up the dreadful fact that children are being allowed less and less active time, let alone recess itself. Instead, children are being asked to engage in focused work and study for upwards of seven hours, five days per week. At the same time, awareness and diagnosing of mental health difficulties such as AD/HD, autism and anxiety seem to be steadily increasing. While this by no means indicates a cause and effect relationship between lack of movement and said diagnoses, research has begun to suggest that lack of movement may be worsening problems related to focus, memory and anxiety.
Spinnin’ Wheel Got To Go Round
So why is it so important for children, and adults for that matter, to move to focus, de-stress — and remember what is going on? Research on the matter has found that, for some individuals, when less engaged due to a mundane workday, difficult school subject, or simply something uninteresting, the brain begins branching out through daydreaming or movement to stay active. While not a problem itself, the behaviors that some people go to such as tapping pencils or falling out of their desks cause distractions and ultimately less focus. However, if this energy is instead exerted in a sensory activity that does not cause such problems, such as the popular fidget cubes and spinners, focus and retention increase. So, when co-workers, students click their pens, play with a paperclip or squeezing a stress ball, their mindless activities may actually be signs of a focused, engaged mind.