These days, stress seems to be a way of life. Many of us walk around under a cloud of anxiety, anger or worry. In an effort to escape those feelings, some people turn to excessive drinking, smoking or other addictive behavior. But what if a way to quickly reduce your stress and anxiety, improve your well being and even give up your addictions was right at your fingertips? It just may be, thanks to a simple mind/body tool called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), or EFT tapping.
What is EFT Tapping?
EFT involves using your fingertips to tap on specific acupressure points to stimulate and balance your body’s energy system and decrease the stress response in the mid-portion of your brain. This area – called the amygdala – is responsible for many of our emotional responses, particularly fear.
“The amygdala is a ‘red-flag’ system that tries to protect you by increasing blood pressure, heart rate, cortisol and blood sugar levels,” explains Fran Medina, a nurse empowerment and life coach and the owner of Fran Medina Coaching. “EFT gets to the amygdala and decreases the entire stress response so you either don’t go through the fight-or-flight response or it’s decreased.”
How legitimate is EFT Tapping?
Since EFT was developed in the early 1990s, it has become more widely accepted in the area of complementary and integrative health. Its effectiveness has been demonstrated in a number of scientific studies, and it’s been featured on The Dr. Oz Show and on Megyn Kelly TODAY. Kaiser-Permanente, one of the largest hospital groups in the United States, has published guidelines for using EFT with patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And the Veterans Administration included EFT among its list of approved complementary and integrative health approaches in 2017.
How do you use EFT Tapping?
Medina says that although there may be different strategies and techniques that a professional might use for various issues and traumas, you can use the following basic steps to reduce your own stress:
- Begin by closing your eyes, taking a deep breath and identifying your stress or troubling feeling. Rate your reaction on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being no reaction and 10 being a strong reaction.
- With another breath, set up a statement about the feeling such as, “Even though I have this anxiety, which I feel throughout my body, I deeply and completely love and respect myself.” Say the statement three times while doing a series of karate chops on the side of your hand. Medina says that doing this step allows you to accept what you are experiencing at the same time that you are also realigning patterns in your brain.
- Repeat your statement while tapping with your index and middle finger on each of the following points in sequence:
- Between the eyebrows
- Outside of the eyebrows
- Under the eyes
- Under the nose
- Under the lip
- Along the clavicle and the soft spot below the bone
- Four inches down from the armpit on your side
- The top of the head
- Do two to three rounds of this sequence. You can use either hand (or both) and tap on either side.
- Now check in with your feelings. How do you rate your reaction? Did it go down?
- Continue doing rounds until your emotional reaction has decreased significantly. If another feeling or negative thought comes up, tap while repeating a statement regarding that emotion. You may have to tap on several different emotions during a session.
- When you feel you have brought your emotional reactions down as much as you can, end your session by tapping on the side of your hand between the wrist and the base of your little finger (the “karate chop”), and a statement such as, “Even though I still feel anxious, I deeply love and respect all my feelings.”
Medina points out that EFT tapping can work in conjunction with any other type of healing modality but is not intended to replace any medical requirements. She has found it to be very effective to reduce performance anxiety and with children and teenagers to reduce self-esteem issues and enhance school performance.
More detailed information about EFT tapping is widely available, and Medina offers complimentary EFT discovery sessions by phone or video chat to help individuals learn more about tapping. In an upcoming blog post, we’ll also look at how tapping can help your pets. Stay tuned!