Therapists say these cheap, clever fidget toys are life-changing because they can actually help reduce your anxiety

From silent clickers to mentally stimulating games, there’s something for every kind of fidgeter.

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I never stop moving, especially when I’m in deep thought or working through something difficult. And if I don’t have a fidget-worthy item within arm's reach, I’ll start shredding napkins, picking at my nails, or peeling the rubber backing off of my mouse pad. Fortunately, the world of fidget toys has seriously evolved past the fidget spinner, and now, they’re not just a trendy marketing scheme; according to scientific research on children with ADHD, fidget toys may actually improve focus and minimize disruptions in the classroom.

That said, more scientific evidence is definitely needed — especially when it comes to stressed adults — so for this article, Mic got in touch with a handful of mental health experts. Below, you’ll find quotes from psychotherapists, psychologists, and wellness company founders who have seen first-hand how fidget toys can reduce anxiety and keep you calm and focused in stressful situations. A few of them even recommended specific fidget toys first-hand (and for those whose advice was a little more general, we used their insights to find clever options on Amazon).

The best news? These fidget toys are subtle and portable — some of them even come in the form of stylish fidget jewelry or textured sensory stickers — so you can use them just about anywhere and no one has to know.


These crease-free hair ties that double as pretty fidget bracelets

Sharon Kaye-O'Connor, an autistic psychotherapist and autism educator who specializes in autism and neurodiversity, recommends “squiggly hair ties that look like telephone cords,” specifically Teleties. (These are my go-to hair ties, too, and my wrist is never without one.) “They are super convenient and you can wear them as a bracelet or in your hair, so you don't have to worry about having an extra thing to carry,” Kaye-O'Connor writes. “They can be stretched or squished, and some of them are really sparkly or colorful, so they can be used as a visual stim as well."


These spinner balls that also massage your pressure points

LCSW and NY-based psychotherapist Marija Marinkovic recommends "Asuku stress relief spinner balls,” which come in your choice of silver or black. “I like these because they serve a multifunctional purpose,” Marinkovic writes. “You can spin in different directions while at the same time, it massages your fingers and stimulates the pressure points. You can use this particular fidget toy to massage other parts of your body such as your shoulders, and feet." So far, reviewers have given them an overall 4.5-star rating.


Some spiky finger rings that are easy to stash anywhere

These spiky sensory finger rings are a recommendation from Jennifer Alumbaugh, MS, founder of Expansive Mindset Coaching and NeuroDefiant Collective. “I like that with one hand I can roll it from my thumb to my forefinger back and forth in a satisfying manner,” Alumbaugh writes. “The pressure and gentle spikes can help soothe, provide a fidget, and be a tool for grounding when triggered to stress or panic." Reviewers have also called them “fantastic fidgets for on the go,” especially since they come in a pack of 10 so they can be stashed in your pockets, bag, glove compartment, and work desk.


A visual motion bubbler that helps you regulate your breathing

Linda Price, M.Ed., CAGS, licensed educational psychologist, and clinical presenter for Minding Your Mind, suggests a visual toy for breathing, like a “motion bubbler.” This one costs under $10 and comes in a few different designs, but each one is filled with non-toxic liquid and vivid gel beads that drip in a soothing pattern. Reviewers have called them “calming,” “fascinating,” and “reasonably priced.”


Or these expanding spheres that help you visualize your breath

Alternatively, you can “try a breathing ball, or Hoberman Sphere,” Price writes. You simply hold one in front of your stomach, expanding it and compressing it while you breathe. Its purpose is to create a visual representation of your breath, so you can shift into relaxation mode and work through difficult emotions. This set comes with four spheres in different colors (all of which expand from 5.5 to 12 inches), and one reviewer says, “Great for breathing regulation and calming down.”


This clay that provides sensory input while you open up

Especially when working with "children and teens,” Price loves utilizing “creative fidgets, such as Model Magic clay that provides sensory input and allows students to produce amazing creations as they open up and talk during counseling sessions." Made by Crayola, the spongy, lightweight formula is designed to stick to itself (rather than your hands), plus it comes in a few different color sets: Primary Colors, Neon Colors, Pastel, and White. If you want to save your creations, just leave them out overnight.


A pocket-sized toy that’s easy to take anywhere

Peter Piraino, LMSW, LCDC at Renewal Lodge by Burning Tree, writes, “My recommendation would be something small that you can always discreetly have with you. You want it to be something you can keep in your pocket. Then, when you start to feel anxious you can take it and focus on it.” This Yogi fidget toy, for example, measures just 2 inches, so you can always keep it with you. Its ABS plastic body and smooth silicone bearing make it both durable and silent, plus it comes with five ring sizes so you can personalize the fit. Get it in your choice of several colors.


This bike chain fidget for a durable option

Bike chain fidgets “can be good options for quiet, portable fidgets” because they offer “interesting textures and movement” in a pocket-friendly design, Goldberg writes. This one is made from metal and has silent stainless steel bearings, so it’s much more durable than your average fidget toy. “It has a good weight and heft to it, so it'll spin and sway, and everything moves smoothly and silently,” one reviewer writes, plus “it doesn't leave any grease or oil on your fingers like a real bike chain would.”


And this flippy chain fidget with more than 6,000 reviews

Similarly, Tom's Fidgets flippy chain has almost 7,000 reviews on Amazon because it’s “durable,” “discreet,” and “great for an adult” with ADHD or anxiety. The flipping motion allows for satisfying, silent fidgeting, whether you’re at work, in a meeting, or on the train. The silicone O-rings offer additional texture and come in your choice of four colors, which is why it’s a direct recommendation from Goldberg.


A genius toy that can be endlessly twisted without ever tangling

Another one of Alumbaugh’s “favorite fidgets” is the Tangle toy. It’s “a number of macaroni-shaped hard plastic pieces that fit together with sockets to make a loop that can be twisted and bunched up in fluid motion without actually tangling,” and reviewers love it, too: “Amazing,” “entertaining,” and “quiet,” customers say, and the brand makes plenty of other colors and textures, as well.


These sensory stickers you can stick almost anywhere

Some may find a handheld toy too distracting, but they still feel soothed by sensory textures. In that case, “when needing a fidget to focus on work, try sensory stickers,” Price writes. These ones come in a pack of 72 and include all different colors and textures. They’re made of durable PEVA and have a reliable adhesive on the back, so you can stick them to your phone, laptop, desk, reusable water bottle — anywhere that’s most convenient for you.


A beaded fidget ring that’s stylish & discreet

Marinkovic also recommends fidget rings, which “help with restlessness and anxiety. I like them because they are quiet, discreet, don’t draw a lot of attention, and can be fashionable as well. Those can be easily used in class, at the office, and in public spaces." This one is a top seller with over 4,000 reviews on Amazon because it’s well-made and stylish. Since it’s created from solid 925 sterling silver with movable beads, it’s hypoallergenic and resistant to discoloration — plus it comes in two colors and a huge range of sizes.

  • Available sizes: 4 — 10


Or these stainless steel spinner rings

If you prefer a spinning motion over movable beads, opt for these spinner rings instead. This set comes in various colors and sizes, but the outer bands stay in place while the inner bands smoothly rotate 360 degrees around. They’re made from high-quality stainless steel (without nickel or lead), so they’re durable and can be worn every day without turning your fingers green. Most importantly, multiple reviewers report that they genuinely help with their anxiety.


Or this gorgeous birthstone ring

The Fonsalette birthstone ring comes in dozens of gold- or silver-plated metal finishes and cubic zirconia stone colors, so you can choose the one that matches your existing jewelry collection and represents your birth month. However, this piece sets itself apart with its smoothly spinning gemstone, which aims to reduce anxiety and boost focus. It also has an open, adjustable design that fits most fingers.


Some marble fidgets that fit in your pocket

According to Price, a "small fidget” that fits in your pocket — “such as a marble fidget” — “can be comforting for anxiety.” Marble fidgets are essentially just marbles in mesh sleeves, but even though they’re simple, affordable, and compact, reviewers still say they help “tremendously.” This particular brand is durable and BPA-free, plus you get eight fidgets in four different colors.


A 50-pack with a variety to suit different needs and moods

“When I was seeing clients in person, I had a bowl of all different kinds of fidgets that clients could choose from,” Alumbaugh writes. “That seemed to be the most inclusive way to offer options,” which is why Alumbaugh recommends having a “selection folx can choose from." This Zen Laboratory fidget toys set comes with 50 different pieces, including squishy toys, poppers, spiky rings, puzzles, and more. Despite the fact that they break down to 50 cents a toy, reviewers say that they’re “high-quality” and provide “entertainment for hours.”


Or this pack of 25+ toys for less than $10

For an even cheaper alternative, opt for this sensory toys set, which includes 28 different toys and costs less than $10. With an average 4.5-star rating and over 28,000 Amazon reviews, it’s a favorite among teachers, parents, and fidgeters because it offers a range of different textures and challenges. “You get a real bang for your buck,” one buyer writes, while another says, “The kids have loved the different options and everything has held up for several months with lots of use.”


A variety set so you can experiment with different options

Corrie Goldberg, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and Founder of Shore Therapy Center for Wellness, also recommends variety packs as a great method of personal discovery. That way, they can "experiment with different fidgets to discover what types of fidget toys they like,” but keep in mind that “these larger packs sometimes promote quantity over quality and may be made from less sturdy materials that break down faster.” Despite the reasonable price, however, reviewers write that this fidget toys pack contains “surprisingly well-made items” and is an “excellent value.”


This small, silent roller fidget that’s ideal for school

While loud, eye-catching fidgets are fine for home use, when it comes to the office, restaurants, or school, you might prefer your “be small and quiet,” Price writes, and this ONO toy is designed for silence. Its dual rollers allow for satisfying fidgeting in your hand or against a desk, and it even doubles as a massager. Its small size is both discreet and packable, but most importantly, its bearings won’t make any noise whatsoever, so you won’t turn heads in the classroom. Get it in three sizes and eight colors.


Or these quiet fidget tubes that are visually calming

Alternatively, there are these sensory fidget tubes, which come in a pack of four. While they’re all quiet and visually calming, each one has a different filling with varying motions that activate when flipped (Magical Reverse Hourglass, Soothing Gravity Spinner, Fantastic Fidget Tube, and Calming Glitter Tube), so kids can find their favorite. “I bought these for my class at a daycare l work at,” one reviewer writes. “They loved them.”


This shape-shifting box that provides intellectual stimulation

Fidget toys don’t have to be mindless. Price writes, "When bored or having trouble waiting, try fidget puzzles that provide intellectual stimulation,” like this SHASHIBO Shape Shifting Box. Each one is made up of 36 rare earth magnets that fit together to create over 70 different shapes. It also fits comfortably in the palm of your hand and comes in over a dozen dazzling designs, which explains why it has over 40,000 reviews on Amazon.


Or this 3-D puzzle ball made from stylish wood

Price also suggests a “3-D puzzle ball,” like this one made from stylish wood. When all of the pieces are combined in the right order, it’ll create a smooth sphere that looks beautiful on your desk and makes for a great fidget toy in and of itself. According to reviewers, it’s “a real challenge to put together,” which is what makes it a “fun fiddle toy” and an ideal pick if you need something to focus your mind and keep your “hands busy.”


Or this take on the classic Rubix cube

Finally, Price recommends Rubix cubes for those who prefer some intellectual stimulation while fidgeting, and this Jurnwey speed cube is the upgraded version. According to reviewers, its BPA-free ABS construction creates a better hand feel that’s “so buttery smooth to twist,” while the vivid colors “look really nice” and aren’t just stickers. One reviewer writes, “I've been solving the generic cube for over a decade,” but “this cube is 100% worth the price.”


Some stress balls for hyperactivity or impulsive behavior

“If someone struggles with hyperactivity or impulsive behavior, then a tactile stimulator like a stress ball may be beneficial,” writes Joni Ogle, LCSW, CSAT, and CEO of The Heights Treatment. A “stress ball can help to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve hand-eye coordination. Use this tool to help you stay focused and work through stressful times." These stress relief balls come in a pack of three, and they’ve earned over 6,000 reviews because they’re satisfyingly squishy, tear-resistant, and non-toxic.


Or these spiky sensory balls for some additional texture

If you prefer toys with texture, there are these spiky sensory balls instead. Made from thermoplastic rubber (which is non-toxic as well as BPA- and latex-free), they’re firm, bouncy, and squeezable — plus they come in a five-pack so you always have one around. They’re also super durable: “I work with about 60 kids a day and these balls seem to be more durable than most fidgets. None of them have popped or lost a spike in the 3 months my students have used them,” one reviewer says.


Or this set of cute, squishy toys

Make squishing more fun with this pack of seven soft foam squishy toys. “Soft and relaxing like marshmallows in hand,” one shopper described, and as a bonus, the coffee cup toy is even scented.


These Monkey Rings for anyone who likes tactile stimulation

“This is the perfect fidget for sensory-seeking children and adults who need tactile stimulation,” Marinkovic writes about these original Monkey Rings. They’re made from BPA- and latex-free thermoplastic rubber and measure 2 inches in diameter. As a result, you can twist them, squeeze them, and roll them. According to reviewers, the construction holds up to extreme fidgeting, while the spikes provide playful sensory stimulation.


This thinking putty if you prefer a silent, smooth flow

“Just like neurodiversity, there are infinite variations of what provides a person sensory joy vs. sensory nightmare,” Alumbaugh writes, so you don’t have to limit your options to solid toys. “Some like clicky, popping action and sound, others like a silent, smooth flow,” like the one that this thinking putty offers. It’s made from a non-toxic silicone that never dries out and won’t damage solid surfaces, but its bright color options and satisfying texture have reviewers calling it “fun to play with” and a “great coping tool.”


Or this scented putty that’s easy to travel with

While other experts have recommended clay, that set is also portable and adds a scent component. “I like this putty because it can provide good feedback to hands that like to squeeze and stretch, but it also provides sensory input through scent. It comes in a number of fragrances that range from stronger to more subtle and from spicy to sweet. The lids to the containers are also raised and patterned, allowing them to do double-duty as fidgets on their own. You can run or tap your fingertips on them, or invert them and press them into the putty to create unique patterns." Each one comes in its own pocket-size container for easy travel.


Some chew necklaces to provide oral sensory input

According to Goldberg, chew necklaces “come in an almost endless array of sizes, shapes, and colors,” and they “ can be a safer and more durable alternative to pens, pencils, clothes, or other objects that sometimes find their way into the mouths of people who need oral sensory input." (These ones are made from BPA-free silicone and come on adjustable cords with safe break-away clasps.) “These quiet fidgets can be worn inside of clothing and taken out when needed if the wearer does not want to show off their accessory,” Goldberg writes.


A novel take on the classic fidget spinner

Let’s not forget about the original fidget toy — the fidget spinner. “These are great for relieving anxiety and brain fog,” writes Marinkovic. “Its design is based on the chaos theory or the ‘double pendulum and random motion’ theory,” and this gold fidget spinner has a novel design: “My boss is obsessed with Harry Potter and loved this,” one reviewer writes, while another raves, “Not only are these golden snitches heavy and durable, they're functional!” The wings spin 360 degrees on smooth, quiet bearings, so you can keep yourself focused and calm.


Or this pack of colorful fidget spinners for an incredible value

For a large group or for the person who wants a fidget toy in every room, there are these fidget hand spinners that come in a pack of 25. Even though they break down to less than $1 each, reviewers write that they’re “great quality for the price,” they “spin so well,” and they “have held up to constant use.” Keep in mind, however, that each pack comes in a random assortment of colors, so you won’t know exactly which ones you’re getting.


This LED fidget spinner that’s super fun

According to Marinkovic, fidget spinners “can be loud and draw a lot of attention” — but sometimes, that’s the point. Take this LED fidget spinner, for example; press the button to choose one of three lighting modes, and as you spin it, it’ll create a mesmerizing multicolored pattern. “My kid is very excited by spinning things [and] the first words he could say with confidence were ‘lights on,’” one reviewer says, so this toy is an “intersection of his two favorite things.”


Or these metal spinners with a dazzling rainbow finish

There are also these stainless steel fidget spinners that come in a pack of five different shapes. Kids and adults alike love their eye-catching rainbow finish, but while they may be a visual distraction, they’re designed for silent operation thanks to their quiet, high-speed bearings. “The hefty weight and dazzling finish of the metal make each one a moving gem,” writes one reviewer. “Exceptionally smooth action. [...] I initially bought them for my granddaughters but I find myself playing with them while I read.”


This modeling dough that never dries out

Goldberg writes that this MAD MATTR modeling dough "is an amazing sand/dough hybrid that never dries out and is endlessly fun to squish, pull, mold, or roll. It has a non-Newtonian quality to it which allows it to be molded into and hold shapes like modeling clay, but assume a more fluid quality when stretched. It comes in an array of colors, and I have every one!" Currently, it has an overall 4.7-star rating from over 2,500 reviewers on Amazon.


This fidget cube with multiple ways to stimulate the senses

According to Ogle, “Fidget cubes provide different tactile sensations for a variety of activities like clicking, flipping, and spinning. It has a variety of buttons and dials that are designed to stimulate the senses." While these toys are pretty easy to come across, theFube fidget cube is an Amazon top-seller with over 14,000 reviews. Unlike most cheaper options, this one is made of high-quality materials, so it has a tactile feel, smooth rotations, and crisp clicking sounds. It’s also available in a massive selection of colors and patterns.


Or this $6 multi-function fidget toy that looks like a retro controller

This rubberized fidget looks like a classic controller, so it’s a retro take on the standard fidget cube. Still, it’s lightweight, ergonomic, and has eight fidget functions to choose from, including a joystick, clicky and silent buttons, a gear roller, and a spring-loaded slider. It also comes in tons of colors, from discreet black to a throwback paint-splatter design. “My therapist recommended I try a fidget toy, this one seemed to check all the boxes and I LOVE it,” one reviewer says. “It helps my productivity and anxiety.”