If you’re feeling bored or distracted, the solution could be as easy as giving your hands something to do. Enter fidget spinners, which, amazingly, even NASA astronauts have used in space. The best fidget toys offer sensory stimulation through tactile feedback or physical challenges, and many are quiet enough to use at work or in other public spaces. Even better, they’re small enough to fit in your pocket (or in a bag) so you can take them anywhere.
While there are currently no studies to support that fidget toys help with anxiety or improving focus, some people may still find them a soothing and stimulating tool to keep on hand. Board-certified psychiatrist Sheldon Zablow, M.D. says, “The important component is not so much the toy itself but the use of the fingers, your digits, to manipulate the object.” He adds that “using the non-dominant hand is best so the dominant hand can be free to draw, write or take that test.” And while there are many cool fidget toys that offer mindless physical activity that can help you focus while you’re doing another unrelated task, there are also options for when you need to take a brief break from said task. These toys require you to concentrate on small mental, strategic, or physical challenges, which users may find relaxing.
While many stress relief toys are designed to be quiet, some make popping, clicking, or whirring noises, so choose accordingly if you want one to use in a public space. With all that, check out the 10 best fidget toys below.
1. This infinity cube that flips and folds
This pocket-sized cube from Small Fish is made up of eight squares that are connected with hinges, allowing them to be configured into a multitude of shapes. It measures just 1.5 by 1.5 inches, so it fits easily into one hand, where it can be flattened, flipped, or folded. The low-profile design and quiet operation won’t attract attention, and the smooth surface and curved edges make it comfortable and discreet to use.
Helpful review: “I work for a larger company and I am responsible for 12 employees under me. [...] These help me overcome the anxiety of 12 people asking me questions all day long about state and federal regulations. This cube is by far my favorite and I have not put it down since I got it.”
2. These squeezable bean pods that fit on a keychain
Some people find squeezing to be a great tension release, and it can be a great way to keep fingers distracted, too. This set of three, 2.75-by-0.78-inch pea pods are made from soft, flexible PVC, and each one hides three peas which pop out when squeezed. Each pea is attached to the inside of the pod, so it won’t get lost, and built-in loops and chain fobs make it easy to hook the compact toys to a keychain or backpack. Plus, reviewers noted that they’re very quiet, so they won’t distract anyone else.
Helpful review: “I deal with anxiety, especially in public. I hang one of these on my purse and it's a great (semi discreet) calm-down/refocus tool. My toddler nephews also find them hilarious.”
3. The pen that’s made of stackable magnets
If you want to give your hands something fun to do when working or studying, this magnetic fidget toy does double-duty as a ballpoint pen. The pen breaks down into 13 magnetic tubes and spheres, so you can build structures or models. Accessories include a touch-screen tip that lets you use the pen as a stylus, and a clip that makes for easy storage in a pocket. The pen is available in silver, black, and gold, but reviews don’t state whether this pick is quiet or loud.
Helpful review: “When I first felt it with my hands, it was so smooth and comfortable. It looks very strong and durable, And I tell you, it really relieves stress.”
4. A wearable spinner that looks like a ring
This sleek spinning ring slips over your finger, so you’ll always have something to play with when the urge to fidget strikes. The two-piece design features a flat base surrounded by a rotating outer ring that can be flicked or turned quietly. In addition to the smooth spinning movement, the outer ring has a sandblasted finish for textural interest. And while most reviewers found it to be pretty quiet, several mentioned that it might be noticeable in silent settings. It comes in nine sizes and 10 colors, so you can customize it to fit on a specific finger and match your personal style.
Helpful review: “Absolutely surprised by the quality of this ring for how cheap it was. I have a habit of picking at my nails and this really helped me. I’ve had it for 3 months now and it hasn’t rubbed off, rusted, or anything. Amazing.”
5. These popping boards that mimic bubble wrap
These flexible silicone boards have several rows of reversible bubbles that can be pressed and popped for a sensory experience that’s similar to popping bubble wrap. The two-pack includes one round board and one octagonal board, and each one makes a soft popping sound when pressed. The material is washable, so it can be sanitized if you bring your boards on the go. Besides these two 5-by-5-inch rainbow-colored shapes, you can also opt for other versions, including solid colors and various shapes.
Helpful review: “Dual purpose, it's a great stress reliever at work and also a perfect game for my kids at home. I'm certainly buying more!”
6. This magnetic box that transforms into 70+ shapes
If variety is essential for you to stay engaged, this multi-sided magnetic fidget toy puzzle is a great choice. The 2.3-inch multi-piece box is connected with 36 rare earth magnets that allow it to be configured in up to 70 3-D shapes for endless fidgeting and play, and reviewers were pleased with how quiet it is. The puzzle is small enough to fit in one hand, and it has a smooth finish that’s comfortable to hold, whether you’re an adult or kid. You can choose from 10 different patterns, and multiple puzzles can be connected together to create large-scale 3-D designs.
Helpful review: “I love having fidget toys because they help me think while I'm working on a problem for work [...] I'm looking forward to buying more to make more shapes, and I would definitely recommend it for people/kids who want a unique (fidget) toy that isn't traditional. While making different shapes, it reminds me a lot of origami, and that is a super cool concept.”
7. A small toy that spins for up to 4 minutes
This small fidget toy can fit in the palm of your hand or even the tip of your finger, and it spins quietly when the wings are flicked. Self-lubricating bearings on the interior of the spinner improve with time, and with continued use it will spin for up to four minutes. The exact size isn’t mentioned, but it’s compact enough to fit in a pocket and comes with a protective carrying case. It does make some noise while in use, but reviewers reported that it’s generally not too loud. Due to the somewhat delicate nature of this spinner, it shouldn’t be dropped and is best suited for adults versus kids.
Helpful review: “I tend to fidget with other items at my desk at work, so i thought this would be a nice purchase. it is a great spinner! i love how the multiple colors show up especially when you spin it under a direct light source.”
8. These magnetic rings that keep hands busy
Whether you choose to slip one or all three of these magnetic spinning rings onto your fingers, the connecting magnets ensure you can fidget without worrying about them falling off or rolling away. Designed to fit on the ends of your fingers, the rings can be twirled, shifted, flipped, and spun while you work, watch TV, or find yourself in any other situation where you need some physical distraction. The rings are available in four multi-colored sets and can be connected to additional rings to create tabletop games like hockey and billiards. Reviewers noted that these do make some noise, though, so they might be best to use when you’re on your own.
Helpful review: “Fun! Bought these to break a nasty habit of picking at my nails. Worked like a charm!”
9. The 12-sided fidget cube for sensory stimulation
This 12-sided sensory fidget toy offers a wide variety of textures and points of interest for fingers to stay busy and engaged. Switches, clicking rollers, and gears provide audible feedback (so there is a noise factor), while different textured surfaces provide a multifaceted sensory experience. The cube is a bit bigger than a golf ball, so it’s easy to carry with you, and it’s constructed from ABS material that’s soft to the touch.
Helpful review: “It’s got all kinds of options for various people. I took it to work for two days before writing this- so it endured roughly 16 hours in my hands. It’s durable, fits in the hand really nicely, the buttons aren’t too loud, and the “handle” bit is made of silicone (not plastic like I thought) and it’s amazing. It lets you spin it as if it were on a string.”
10. A silent fidget spinner that lights up
This cool fidget toy not only spins but also has the unique ability to light up, making it extra fun and engaging, even in the dark. A lithium coin battery (which is included) can be installed on the underside of the 3-by-3-inch spinner, and a button below each of the three points lets you control the LED light colors and modes. It’s small enough to spin on one finger or between your forefinger and thumb, and it automatically shuts off after one minute of non-use to conserve the battery. The best part? Reviewers have attested that it’s totally silent. Choose from five colors.
Helpful review: “You can turn on the LED lights by pushing one button or all three, which sets up a sequence of different lighting patterns. The spinner spins smoothly for a long time. It's a hypnotic little toy and was much better than I expected (and the quality was good, too).”