Anxiety Advice #3: Fidgeting

This week in the series we’re going to take a look at something a bit more small scale, but I found that it’s helped me tremendously throughout the years. A lot of us nervous folks, myself included, sometimes don’t know what to do with themselves. I used to just bounce my legs up and down at a rapid pace as some way to retain focus but as time went on that started bothering people. And rightfully so. If the entire table is shaking while you’re trying to get work done then that’s obviously far from ideal. I talked about fidgeting with one of my students back in special education, because he would get very nervous about small things, which I recognized clearly, and then he didn’t quite know how to handle himself.

When I taught my social skills lesson I hit on this, because during that lesson I was fidgeting as well. As a teacher I’ve found a great trick for it. You can just have a whiteboard marker in your hands at all times and spin it around in your hand as a way to distract yourself. I suggest finding something that makes sense for you to have on you. Alternatively, you could be working at a workplace where everyone is very understanding and then you could get a little bit more creative with your options. Keep in mind that your fidgeting should be as quiet and covert as possible. We don’t want to bother people with noises or lights or things like that. Be conscious of your surroundings and if you’re unsure if something you’re doing is perceived as annoying you could always ask the people around you. Maybe you’re worried about making noise and your coworkers or classmates haven’t noticed you were making a sound at all.

The reason I’m so conscious of my fidgeting comes from being a teacher. For some of our teaching assignments we need to film ourselves as we teach lessons. A lot of people, myself included, already don’t like the sound of our own voices. If you combine that with having to analyze your actions and all that and you’re listening back to this video and keep hearing yourself hum a song to calm down then that’s not a great look. I can look back at it and laugh now, since it was my very first time teaching and I was incredibly nervous about it, but when I heard it back the first time I was mortified my students could hear me hum as well. Since then I’ve kept an eye on it and I don’t really hum during my lessons anymore, but it was a funny way to find out.

So now I just hold on to a whiteboard marker for dear life and everything will be alright. I hope this advice is useful to some of you, but I think for many it might already be something they know about. Next time we do one of these Anxiety Advice posts it’ll likely be a bit of a more serious topic, but I’m quickly typing this out at internship in between data entry stuff that is frying my brain. Let me know if you have any fidgeting advice for me. Maybe you’re a pro at fidget spinner tricks, or you have one of those finger skateboards that were super cool when I was young. Maybe that’s just me showing my age, what’s my age again?

Thanks for reading.

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