How to fidget with short hair?
June 6, 2013 6:51 AM   Subscribe

I just got a haircut, and it's short enough that I can no longer play with my hair. What can I do instead?

For 15+ years, I've played with my hair as both a fidgety habit and comfort mechanism. This has primarily involved either pulling at it from the scalp and especially rubbing longer locks against my face and lips (boy, does that seem weird written out). What activities, preferably subtle and socially-appropriate, can help fill this void?

Temporary fixes I've used in the past include playing with hair elastics worn around a wrist and squeezing small plushies/stuffed animals, but these tend to loose their appeal quickly with me. Knitting also quells this urge, but it's not really an option during my work day. Chewing gum is also out due to TMJ.
posted by casualinference to Grab Bag (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Rings? Tangle? Coin?
posted by tilde at 6:55 AM on June 6, 2013

Best answer: I work in an office which gets a lot of toy samples, and I often find myself fidgeting with, say, a small figurine of Peppa Pig whilst thinking. If you get something made of a texture you like eg. if you like rubbery textures, then a rubber ball, it helps.
posted by mippy at 6:58 AM on June 6, 2013

I spin the back of my earring around the post with my thumb, or spin the pendant of my necklace around the chain, or spin whatever ring I have on around my finger. Apparently I like spinning.
posted by olinerd at 6:59 AM on June 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

I play with pieces of scotch tape that i can rip off the roll by my desk - I suspect that (for me at least) the tactile nature of the object is a huge part of it.
posted by muddgirl at 6:59 AM on June 6, 2013

Origami. Every time you get up from the table, you'll leave behind another damned little paper animal like the cop in Blade Runner. You'll need to carry appropriate slips of paper with you. Brings some for friends, because you know they'll want to try.
posted by pracowity at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2013

Neodymium Magnets have been a great source of fidgets for me.
posted by royalsong at 7:05 AM on June 6, 2013

I fidget with my diamond necklace (hold on to it and rub the smooth face of the diamond) and/or my engagement ring. The ring in particular is good to fidget with. I sometimes just rub the underside of the band with my thumb, and othertimes I repeatedly rotate it. Other times I hold on to it with my other hand and just wiggle it back and forth. Works for me.

Unrelated to jewelry, I also push down on the backs of my fingers with the thumb of that hand.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2013

I twirl my pen. That helps a lot.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:19 AM on June 6, 2013

I hadn't realised quite how many fidgets I have, but here are some of my work ones:
- pen twirling
- doodling
- paperclip folding, twisting, etc
- post it note rolling, folding (sort of origami but not really with any endpoint)
- blutack molding
posted by crocomancer at 7:30 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Necklace or bracelet. I have a necklace I wear every day, and I just twist it around and play with the beads on it.
posted by trogdole at 7:41 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I second pen-twirling, and would like to be able to knuckle-roll a coin, so thank you ~ for that link.

I'm a guy with big hands, so I use one of these a medium-strength Prohands Grip Master. They're sold to mountainers/rock-climbers to improve hand/finger strength and dexterity, but I got it because I don't feel like I have the strength+control I want when target-shooting with a heavy trigger. Most people consider hand-exercise to be stress relief, but I can tell it's a fidget for me as much as anything.

And this is a bit of specialty gear, but I carry one of these Xi1 Xikar cigar cutters, which springs out the wings and I can snap them back in. Very satisfying fidget. It would probably make people around me crazy if I did it much longer than I do.
posted by Sunburnt at 7:53 AM on June 6, 2013

I have one of those rings that spins so I'll spin that sometimes.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 7:55 AM on June 6, 2013

You might also be able to find a way to fidget with your hair. I have short hair and I still manage to fuss with it constantly. Mine's an ear lobe length bob, and I twist a lock and then play with the very end of that twist, pushing against it with my thumb like it's a paintbrush. (It really does sound insane when you type it out). It's very, very short at the nape, like 1/4", and I just play with the texture there. When my head was shaved 20 years ago, I was constantly rubbing my hands over my head to enjoy the velvet-like nap.

Unless you cut your hair to stop futzing with it? I actually didn't think of that 'til right now. I also spin rings on my fingers, doodle, and roll or fold up post-it notes. Silently tap my fingers, sometimes against themselves rather than a noisy surface. And now I wonder if I just come off as a fidgety mess all the time.
posted by looli at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2013

I got a cheap ipad stylus with some promotional swag a few days ago, and I've noticed that unless I'm actively typing, it's in my hand getting its squishy little stylus nubbin squished. It has a very pleasant tactile squishiness. Highly recommended.
posted by phunniemee at 8:04 AM on June 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Worry beads
posted by brujita at 8:05 AM on June 6, 2013

Nthing getting at least one ring, bracelet, or necklace to mindlessly twirl. I work in a facility that requires retractable badge holders, and quietly zipping my badge up and down on the expanding cord is immensely satisfying.

You could also try a stress cupcake or one of these nifty-looking-but-eerily-named infectious disease balls.
posted by divined by radio at 8:08 AM on June 6, 2013

Best answer: I have a Tangle Relax and I love it. Some folks don't like the gummy texture and go for the plastic or chrome ones instead.

Several people I know have and love this tiny, discreet fidget.

I finally got my Tangle after I realized that all of the tiny cuts I was noticing on my hands were from playing with paper clips and binder clips at work, and all of the inky splotches on my hands were from playing with pens, and that playing with my hair made me look like a child.
posted by SugarAndSass at 8:09 AM on June 6, 2013

Best answer: One idea with short hair is go back in fashion time.

Wear a light scarf around your hair as a hairband, with the tail trailing over one shoulder. Different lengths, weights, and materials will let you drape the trail and fiddle with it as you used to do with your hair.
posted by tilde at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2013

Some previous questions might help. If you're missing the feel of your hair on your face, though, maybe see if wearing a scarf would help. (The pretty go with your outfit kind, not the warm winter ones.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2013

Get a nice big silver ring that is just a little too big for your finger size so it slides around but not off. Wiggle it back and forth with your adjacent finger.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 10:47 AM on June 6, 2013

Jewelry is very fidget-able. I wiggle and twirl my wedding rings as well as the jade bangle that I wear all the time.
posted by kitkatcathy at 1:05 PM on June 6, 2013

I have short hair and pull/stroke my side swept bangs all the time. You'll find new ways to play with it in time. :)
posted by amileighs at 5:29 PM on June 6, 2013

I always have Silly Putty in my hand or on the table or desk. It's good exercise for your hands and it feels interesting.
posted by melesana at 9:58 PM on June 6, 2013

Best answer: I would aim for something to fidget with that has a similar texture perhaps. If you like fidgeting with your hair because it's soft, maybe you want a soft scarf. I have a giant cashmere wrap sweater I love, not because it looks particularly stylish, but because it's really soft and there's a lot of material to fidget with and I like holding the wool between my fingers. (okay I sound weird now)

You could try keeping a small ball of yarn at your desk, to wind and unwind. You like knitting, and it has a soft hair-like texture.
posted by inertia at 11:53 AM on June 7, 2013

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