How to Use EFT (Tapping) to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Are you feeling stressed lately? Read on to learn how EFT, also known as tapping, can help you relieve tension and restore your body to a relaxed state.
With everything happening in the world right now, many of us are feeling on edge. Maybe the threat of the coronavirus has you feeling anxious when you have to leave your house. Perhaps the tense political and social climate has dredged up a lot of intense emotions for you. Maybe a difficult relationship or a high pressure job is causing you to experience symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Fight or Flight: Your Body’s Response to Stress
When you experience a stressful situation, your body reacts with the stress response, commonly referred to as “fight or flight.” That’s when you’ll notice:
Your heart rate increases
Your breathing speeds up
Your muscles tighten
Your blood pressure rises
You may feel frozen
You may feel a strong desire to run away
Your stress response is your body’s way of protecting itself from a threat. It’s a system that’s important when you’re out in the wild trying to avoid being eaten by a tiger. Unfortunately, it’s not so helpful when you are just trying to get through a day at the office, or a tense dinner with your in-laws.
What Is EFT (Tapping)?
One way to help calm your nervous system down when you are experiencing feelings of stress, anxiety and emotional distress is by using Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping. This technique was developed by Gary Craig 1995, but it’s actually based on Eastern medicine practices that are more than 5,000 years old.
EFT uses acupressure points, or meridians points, to help calm down the part of your brain that is responsible for the stress response: your amygdala. This is the part of the brain that causes you to go into fight-or-flight mode. Tapping on specific meridian points helps to release negative emotions and restore your mind and body to a balanced state. Studies have also shown that EFT can lower levels of cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Aside from alleviating stress, tapping can also help with:
How to Use EFT to Relieve Stress
Please note that this is a general overview of EFT. There are many ways it can be used, and this is just one example. If you’re interested in learning how to effectively use EFT to suit your specific needs, I’d highly recommend working with a licensed counselor who is trained in the technique. A professional can help you tailor the practice to help you with your particular situation. While you can use this technique on your own, there is always a chance that tapping can stir up strong feelings that may be overwhelming.
That said, here is a basic overview of how to use EFT:
1. Take inventory of how anxious you’re feeling. Rate it on a scale of 1-10.
2. Notice anywhere in your body where you’re feeling discomfort.
3. Ground yourself. Put your feet flat on the floor and take a deep breath, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
4. Choose a “setup statement’ to repeat to yourself while you perform the tapping. This statement reminds you that although you do have this issue, you love and accept yourself regardless. The statement should be something like: “Even though I have [your problem], I deeply and completely accept myself.”
5. Start the tapping sequence. Tap on these 9 meridian points with your fingertips, in the following sequence, while repeating your setup statement:
Karate chop (the outer side of the hand below your pinky) (KC)
Top of head (TOH)
Above the eyebrow (EB)
Side of eye (SE)
Under eye (UE)
Under nose (UN)
Above chin (CH)
Under arm (UA)
6. Repeat the sequence a few times on each side.
7. Take inventory again. On that 1-10 scale, would you rate yourself lower now?
Need a visual? Watch this video to see me demonstrate the tapping sequence.
EFT is such a helpful tool in helping to calm down your body’s stress response. I hope learning about it has been useful for you! Please reach out to me if you want to learn more about EFT or find out about my counseling services.
Church, D. (2013). Clinical EFT as an Evidence-Based Practice for the Treatment of Psychological and Physiological Conditions. Psychology, 4, 645-654. doi: 10.4236/psych.2013.48092.
Stapleton, P., Crighton, G., Sabot, D., & O'Neill, H. M. (2020). Reexamining the effect of emotional freedom techniques on stress biochemistry: A randomized controlled trial. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/tra0000563