Do you find that you often have trouble sitting still and end up fidgeting in all sorts of situations? You may not even be aware you’re doing it, but people around you have noticed you often engage in repetitive behaviors like drumming your fingers or tapping your foot. What does this activity mean? Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson explores the act of fidgeting and whether it can be a sign of something serious going on.
What is Fidgeting?
Fidgeting is the act of engaging in a repetitive movement, sometimes without being aware of it. In some cases, the person knows they are doing it and tries to stop but finds they fall right back into the pattern. It includes movement of a person’s hands, arms, feets, legs, or eyes. People most commonly fidget in the following ways:
- Tap their feet
- Drum their fingers
- Bounce their legs up and down
- Turn a pen, pencil, or other device over and over in their hands
- Twirl their hair
- Shift their weight
- Blink their eyes
- Fold and unfold their arms
- Cross and uncross their legs
What Are the Causes of Fidgeting?
A person may find themselves fidgeting for different reasons. For some people, it’s a harmless habit. They may do it because they are bored in general or with a specific activity. For example, if they are involved in a long work meeting that does not hold their interest, they may start fidgeting. Someone who feels uncomfortable or nervous may fidget as a way to comfort or distract themselves.
Another reason some might fidget is because they are tired and need an activity to help them stay more alert. For some, fidgeting helps them take stay focused on a task, while for others, it’s a sign that their mind has wandered and they are taking a sort of mental break. Genetics can even play a part in whether or not a person fidgets. It tends to run in families, which may also be due to a person witnessing other family members fidget and repeating the pattern.
Can Fidgeting Be a Sign of a Serious Problem?
While fidgeting may be a harmless habit for many people, it can be a sign of a medical or psychological disorder for others. Fidgeting is one of the main symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). People with ADHD also tend to squirm in their seats, have difficulty staying focused on a conversation or an activity, and find it hard to let someone else speak without interrupting. For them, fidgeting is their body’s way of communicating the discomfort they feel in a situation. Fidgeting as a sign of ADHD can happen to both children and adults. Someone who is concerned their fidgeting may happen as a result of having ADHD should get a diagnosis from a professional. From there, they can investigate options for treating all of their symptoms of ADHD.
Fidgeting can also be a sign of having restless leg syndrome (RLS). RLS is a neurological disorder that causes a person to have a compulsive need to move their legs, particularly while trying to relax or when they are asleep. If a person fidgets enough that it interferes with their personal or professional lives, they should see a doctor to get an evaluation. Both ADHD and RLS are treatable and the person can enjoy a reduction in symptoms.
What are Some At-Home Ways to Stop or Minimize Constantly Fidgeting?
Whether a person fidgets for non-medical reasons or it’s a sign of ADHD, there are simple things they can do at home to help reduce their fidgeting. Helpful ideas include:
- Take a warm shower or bath just before going to bed to relax the body.
- Lightly massage the arms or legs before going to bed.
- Develop a habit of consistently getting a good night’s sleep.
- Take a quick walk before bedtime to release excess energy.
- Do a mindful activity, such as reading or working a puzzle.
- Avoid screen time for at least thirty minutes before going to sleep (computers, cell phones, and videogames).
- Reduce stressful activities in daily life whenever possible.
Contact Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson to Learn About Possible Treatment Options
Are you concerned that the reason you find yourself constantly fidgeting may mean you need an evaluation by a mental health expert? It can be a symptom of ADHD that can be treated. Montare Behavioral Health of Tucson offers a residential treatment program that treats people who have a mental illness. We specifically designed our facility to feel like a home so people who stay with us can relax and focus on healing themselves. We provide multiple types of therapy that help people stop feeling the need to fidget. Additionally, we offer access to prescription medications that ease the symptoms of poor mental health.
Visit our admissions page for more information. Our staff is happy to talk to you about your situation and discuss options to help you feel better.