When I found out about BFRBs, I quickly stumbled upon fidget toys. BFRB Fidget toys are tactile toys that can be stretched, squeezed, moved, or stroked. They come in various textures and are usually small enough to be carried around in the hands or pocket.
BFRB fidget toys keep hands and jaw busy and distract them from picking, biting, or pulling. Using fidget toys also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Fidget toys used to manage BFRBs are somewhat controversial because some say it replaces the behavior but doesn’t solve the problem. That may be true, but I find it a healthier alternative to protect my skin and fingernails.
Speaking of problem-solving – at this point, it may be important to mention that recovery from BFRBs mainly involves mental work and healing. Find ways to better deal with your frustration, dissatisfaction, stress, or anxiety. Find out what the source of your triggers is. Try therapy, keep a journal, or find other ways to connect with your inner self.
In the meantime, if fidget toys are helping you on your healing journey, I encourage you to use them. I’m thankful for BFRB fidget toys, and who knows, maybe one day I won’t need them anymore.
Find out what sensations you are responding to
When I first researched fidget toys on the internet, I was overwhelmed by the vast amount of different toys out there.
I began looking more closely at my body-focused repetitive behaviors to determine what sensations I crave and the relief I get from skin, nail, and cheek biting.
For example, I react to:
Sight: I love popping pimples or any kind of clogged pores. Seeing the pus come out is so rewarding and soothing. Sorry for the graphic description, but you know what I am talking about.
Sound: I like the clicking sound when I bite my nails or cheeks
Touch: My restless fingers love to explore rough skin or fingernails. As if they were on patrol and their mission is to smooth everything, even the oh-so-tiny hangnail.
Sensory input is different for everyone. Ask yourself: What are some of the comforting feelings you experience when you engage in a BFRB? Do you respond to touch, sight, sound, or smell?
With this information, it will be easier to find a BFRB replacement in the form of a fidget toy or something similar.
Get inspired by household items or nature.
In the beginning, I didn’t want to spend any money and recourses on plastic BFRB fidget toys that I wasn’t sure I would even like.
So, I started trying different items at home and in nature to see how my senses respond. I quickly found some helpful things. I still use some of these and have replaced others with actual fidget toys.
Here are some examples:
Fidget ring: from ball chains to fidget jewelry
From a purchase, I had this metal chain for merchandising tags. I removed a few links from the small chain to wrap them around my finger. My fingers responded very well to the tiny metal balls. I later replaced this with a ring I made out of beads. And that, in turn, I replaced with a beautiful silver fidget ring by Levitayt.
Tip: Search for anxiety ring, wellness jewelry, or fidget ring.
Tip: Rubber bands or hair ties are great alternatives for the metal chain. I wrap the rubber band around my left index finger. That can keep my thumb busy for a while too.
Chopstick: to distract teeth and tongue
I cut a piece off a chopstick (you can also try popsicle sticks). I held it between my teeth or in my cheek to create a barrier against biting my cheeks and lips. That coping method already helped a bit, but I wanted something to chew on to get the energy out of my jaw. I was very fortunate to later find a sensory chew toy that had the same small shape as the chopstick – for some reason, most chew toys are pretty big.
Tip: You can also search for “chewelery,” – sensory chew necklaces or bracelets!
Soap bag: for the ultimate soothing feeling
I bought a small soap bag made from coarse flax fabric with loops for scrubbing. I loved the feeling of stroking it so much I put it in my BFRB toolbox instead of the shower 😉
Tip: The texture of terry cloth is also great. I’ve been a big fan since I was a kid.
Nature: find your fidget toy in the park, by the river, or in the woods!
Nature has so many wonderful textures to offer. Watch out for rough twigs, small pinecones, or smooth stones on your next walk. You don’t have to spend money on worry stones (usually smooth) that you get in the store. Just find one yourself! You might even like a rough stone better than a smooth one.
These are just a few examples of things I found at home and found helpful for my BFRBs. You don’t have to spend money on “fancy” fidget toys.
Check out what you already have at home, go outside, or maybe go to a craft store. There is no limit to your creativity to find something to occupy your fingers or create a barrier. Please let me know if you find anything cool!
Where to buy BFRB fidget toys
If you want to buy a fidget toy but don’t know which one yet, I recommend watching videos about fidget toys on YouTube. You’ll get a better idea by seeing how people are using them.
Also, check out @pickingme on Instagram, who posts new fidget toys every week!
Book or toy stores sometimes also carry sensory products. Or maybe there’s even a mental health store in your town. I like going to the shops because you can often test the toys, which is helpful to find something suitable.
Of course, buying fidget toys online is always an option. Check out Therapy Shoppe or good old Amazon.
Try out new fidget toys or items and switch between them from time to time. Otherwise, they lose their “magic” and become boring. Similar to kids and dogs – after a while, they need new toys and input too 😉