Tapping — known as the Emotional Freedom Technique — is is a proven stress, anxiety and pain reliever.
Our lives can be overwhelming at times — juggling work, family, and financial pressures. There was the pandemic…. followed by even more new challenges and newstressors, without shedding all of the old ones.
To be able to tap into our bodies’ inner sense and cultivate a new found strength, could be a really useful tool that is accessible to everyone.
Literally: Physically “tapping” acupressure points on your body while mentally focusing on what’s troubling you can actually release fear and stress and even boost immunity. This concept, officially known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), has been known about since it was first introduced in the 1990s by Gary Craig, a Stanford graduate and certified master practitioner of neurolinguistic programming. Here’s how it works andwhat the science says.
Tapping provides a way to address issues like stress or pain by bringing them to the forefront of your mind, accepting them and then releasing them. Sometimes referred to as psychological acupressure, tapping combines elements of Chinese medicine, neuroscience and psychology to disrupt the energy of looping thoughts and beliefs.
Tapping maps out acupressure points on the face and body. By focusing on a stressful thought that’s creating tension in your body and gently tapping your fingers on these specific points, you send a calming signal to your brain. This, in turn, can help rewire your reaction to that stressful thought or experience going forward.
When we are stressed, our sympathetic nervous system gets disrupted and a part of our brain — the amygdala — goes into fight, flight or freeze mode. This natural instinct is meant to help us survive and protect us from physical danger.
However, over time — and especially during a stressful period such as a global pandemic — our bodies build up tension from these low-grade fight or flight responses and that disturbing energy gets retained in the body.
Tapping is a great tool for personal change — ideal for anxiety and stress, but also for supporting goals and dreams.
It takes energy to hold a thought or a memory in place. By tapping on specific points along meridian lines on the head and torso, we can open up the energy that is holding a thought or a memory in place. It’s a great tool for personal change — ideal for anxiety and stress, but also for supporting goals and dreams.
What the Science Says
Tapping has been clinically proven to manage stress, reduce cortisol levels, improve anxiety and even treat PTSD in veterans. Because tapping is a gentle and easy-to-follow technique, anyone struggling with stress, anxiety or pain can benefit from it.
The practice is particularly well-suited for helping to work through anxiety. Anxiety isn’t just an experience we have in our head — it impacts our whole body. Having a technique that utilises the power of the mind and body togetheris incredibly powerful. When we release this stress, we can be more creative and resourceful when we confront challenges and a better help those around us.
Tapping is a great addition to anyone’s coping toolbox, whether you’re dealing with an acute stressor. Tapping can let your body know it’s safe to relax and also help raise immunity by decreasing your level of detrimental stress hormones.
How to Tap
There is a lot of flexibility with how you tap — you can do it for five minutes or for longer sessions.
1. Identify an Issue
Home in on what you want to focus on in your tapping session. It could be a physical pain or body struggle (such as a back injury or an unhealthy eating behaviour), an emotional burden (like a recent breakup) or an anxiety trigger (fear of losing your job or getting sick). Try to be as specific as possible, such as “my financial stress” or “my neck pain.” Allow yourself to fully feel what you’re feeling, accepting it without painting a wash of positivity overtop.
2. Give Your Focus a Number
Give your focus a score between one and ten to signify how much it’s bothering you (10 being a lot, 1 being a little). In most cases, your focus should warrant a score of five or higher.
3. Begin By Tapping Your Hand
Start by tapping the side of your hand (which connects to the small intestine meridian) and repeat an affirmation addressing your focus and accepting it while taking deep breaths. An example phrase is “Even though I have _______ pain, I deeply and completely accept myself.” Repeat the phrase a couple times while tapping your hand. Starting with an affirmation like this is designed to help centre and focus your specific pain or anxiety as you gradually ease into the session.
4. Move Through Points on the Body
Continue tapping through the meridian points on your body while repeating your reminder phrase of whatever you’re working on and working through — like “this neck pain” or “this financial stress.” You can tap with one finger, two or all of your fingers — whatever feels most comfortable to you. As you repeat the reminder phrase, tap these areas in the following order:
- Eyebrow (bladder meridian): above the nose
- Side of Eye (gallbladder meridian): between your eye and temple
- Under the Eye (stomach meridian): along the bone
- Under the Nose (governing vessel): between the nose and upper lip
- Chin (central vessel): between the bottom lip and chin
- Collarbone (kidney meridian): an inch below the collarbone and three inches outward
- Under the Arm (spleen meridian): Three inches below armpit on your side
- Top of your Head (governing vessel)
5. Check In With Yourself
Has your pain or anxiety diminished? Give your focus a new number between one and ten. If you started with an eight, is your focus now a six? Or has it stayed the same? If it hasn’t changed, that’s okay! Go back and repeat the tapping sequence again. You are beginning to have an honest conversation with your pain or anxiety through tapping — you are on your way to a deeper understanding of self!