The Unconscious Habit Of FidgetingFidgeting is defined as the act of making small unnecessary movements with your body. Especially hands and feet. It is usually associated with unrest in classrooms. Tapping pencils and clicking pens are acts of fidgeting. Though it not only happens in the classrooms. Look around carefully and you’ll see people playing with their rings, turning over their pens, moving their legs up and down or chewing on different things. Somehow, we all are the victim of this unconscious habit of fidgeting whether we admit it or not.

It is assumed as an indication of fatigue, mindlessness or frustration. We tend to fidget when our brain is meandering or when we are wandering off in daydreaming. It is supposed to have a negative effect on our performance. Fidgeting may be diverting our attention, but a cognitive study shows that it may also be a self-regulatory mechanism to help us focus better. It established that children who were allowed to fidget did better at memory and learning tests.

Biological research insists that fidgeting is an unconscious response that helps us in regulating our weight. We don’t realize it, but the fidgeting moves increase the number of calories burned around 29% to 38%. WHO estimated that a calorie imbalance of even 200 calories is enough for steady weight gain. Fidgeting accounts for burning 100 to 800 calories per day that is enough to make up for extra calorie intake. So fidgeting could be nature’s inbuilt mechanism to help us keep off extra weight.

Fidgeting is also regarded as a stress reliever. When we experience increased levels of stress, our bodies release more stress hormones which prepare us for a fight or flight reaction. Not having these as an option, the extra energy is trapped. Jiggling legs, clicking pens or drumming fingers are some ways to relieve all that pent up energy.

All these causes of fidgeting could be interconnected. The unconscious habit for fidgeting is a self-regulatory system to oversee consideration, weight or stress whatever the circumstance demands.

Mild fidgeting appears to be caused by inattention. Symptoms include foot tapping, finger drumming, weight shifting, folding arms, and crossing legs. If your fidgeting habit starts interfering with your daily life activities like working and sleeping then it’s serious. You should seek medical advice because it can be caused by conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).

ADHD has no single cause. Environmental factors don’t contribute to it. People are born with it. Its symptoms are excessive talking, constant interruptions, facing difficulty in doing quiet tasks, restlessness, impatience and mood swings. Although these symptoms are typical of children, if they start disrupting your child’s academic or social functioning, you should get him examined. Diagnosing ADHD in adults is much harder. If you find yourself or someone around you having mood swings, difficulty in concentrating, finishing tasks or maintaining relationships, it’s a telltale dog that something is wrong and help is needed.

Fidgeting is often displayed in the forms of swinging, crossing or bouncing your legs up and down. But if this is disturbing you when sleeping or trying to relax, it could be the Restless Legs Syndrome. RLS is a neurological disorder that creates discomfort is your legs urging you to keep moving them. It worsens during sleep. The causes of RLS is still unknown. Iron deficiency is a contributing factor. It can also be triggered by long periods of being still, like an extended airplane flight, a long movie or a lengthy car journey. If you start having symptoms of RLS like an inability to sleep, you should talk to your doctor about it.

Rising awareness about fidgeting has brought about the advent of fidget toys. It is a flourishing business that produces devices that aid fidgeting. The most popular one being the fidget spinner. They come in different shapes, sizes, materials and color variations. Other devices include fidget cubes, they are cubes installed with different interactive buttons and switches, fidget pens and fidget sticks. Their main goal is to help kids suffering from autism or ADHD focus. They can be used by anyone who wants to control their fidgeting.

The unconscious habit of fidgeting is assumed by the onlookers as the sign of inattentiveness, boredom or hyperactivity. These movements no matter how tiny serve as visual cues and distract others. Fidgeting is normal, but if it starts interfering with your daily life, you should consider visiting your health professional.

By Javeria Faizan