Anxiety has become an increasingly prevalent issue in today’s fast-paced and demanding world. Many individuals experience overwhelming feelings of worry, stress, and unease, affecting their mental and physical well-being. While there are various approaches to managing anxiety, one technique that has gained significant attention is tapping. Also known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), tapping is a self-help practice that combines elements of traditional Chinese medicine, psychology, and neurology to alleviate anxiety symptoms. This article will examine the fundamentals of tapping, its effectiveness in managing anxiety, and how you can include it in your daily routine.
Tapping is based on the premise that negative emotions and physical discomfort result from the body’s energy system disruptions. By using your fingertips to tap on exact acupressure points on the body while concentrating on the issue at hand, tapping aims to restore balance and harmony within the energy system. This process can help release emotional blockages, reduce anxiety, and promote a sense of calm.
The tapping technique typically involves a series of affirmations or statements about the specific anxiety or issue you are addressing. While tapping on the acupressure points, you simultaneously repeat these statements to target and neutralize the emotional distress associated with them. This combination of physical stimulation and cognitive reframing is believed to rewire the brain’s response to anxiety triggers, reducing symptoms over time.
Effectiveness of Tapping for Anxiety
Numerous studies have highlighted the effectiveness of tapping as a complementary technique for managing anxiety. A review published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that tapping significantly reduced anxiety symptoms and stress levels in individuals suffering from various anxiety disorders. Participants experienced improvements in their mood, decreased physiological markers of stress, and increased overall well-being.
Tapping has also shown promise in addressing specific anxiety-related disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, and social anxiety. Research conducted at Harvard Medical School revealed that tapping reduced PTSD symptoms, including intrusive thoughts and sleep disturbances, in veterans. Another study published in the journal Explore showed that tapping significantly reduced the severity of social anxiety symptoms in individuals diagnosed with social anxiety disorder.
Furthermore, tapping has been found to modulate the brain’s stress response by regulating the amygdala, a key region involved in anxiety and fear. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research has revealed that tapping can decrease the amygdala’s hyperactivity, reducing fear response and increasing emotional regulation.
Benefits of Tapping for Anxiety
- Stress Reduction: Tapping has been shown to activate the body’s relaxation response, leading to a decrease in stress hormones such as cortisol. By engaging in tapping exercises regularly, individuals may experience a significant reduction in overall stress levels and a greater ability to manage anxiety-inducing situations.
- Emotional Regulation: Anxiety often involves overwhelming emotions that can be difficult to manage. Tapping helps individuals acknowledge and validate their emotions while simultaneously offering a technique to regulate and release them. By tapping on acupressure points, individuals can create a sense of emotional balance, leading to increased self-awareness and improved emotional resilience.
- Cognitive Shift: Tapping combines physical stimulation with verbal affirmations that target specific negative thoughts or beliefs associated with anxiety. This process can help individuals challenge and reframe those thoughts, leading to a more positive and balanced mindset. By replacing self-limiting beliefs with empowering ones, individuals can experience a shift in their cognitive and emotional patterns.
- Body-Mind Connection: Anxiety often manifests physically, with symptoms such as muscle tension, headaches, or digestive issues. Tapping helps establish a connection between the mind and body, allowing individuals to address the physical symptoms associated with anxiety. By tapping on acupressure points, the body’s energy flow is restored, promoting relaxation, pain reduction, and an overall sense of well-being.
- Self-Empowerment: Tapping is a self-help technique that individuals can learn and practice independently. This certifies individuals to take a functional role in their own healing process, fostering a sense of self-reliance and control over their anxiety. Tapping can be performed anywhere and at any time, providing individuals with a tool to manage their anxiety in real-time.
Incorporating Tapping into Your Routine
Incorporating tapping into your daily routine can be highly beneficial if you’re interested in using tapping to manage anxiety. Here are some steps to get started:
- Identify the Issue: Identify the specific anxiety or issue you want to address. It could be a general feeling of anxiety, a specific event or memory, or a phobia. Be clear about what you want to work on.
- Create Affirmations: Develop positive affirmations or statements that reflect your identified issue. For example, if you struggle with public speaking anxiety, an affirmation could be: “Even though I feel anxious speaking in public, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
- The Tapping Sequence: Familiarize yourself with the tapping points. These include the top of the head, eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, nose, chin, collarbone, arm, and the karate chop point on the side of the hand. Use your fingertips to gently tap on each point, spending a few seconds on each while repeating your chosen affirmation or statement.
- Repeat and Reframe: As you tap on each point, repeat your affirmations or statements, focusing on the negative emotions associated with the issue. Gradually shift your language to incorporate positive and empowering phrases. This process helps reframe your thinking and gradually reduces the emotional intensity connected to anxiety.
- Assess Progress: After each tapping session, take a moment to evaluate how you feel. Pay attention to any shifts in your emotional state, physical sensations, or overall well-being. Over time, you may notice reduced anxiety symptoms and an increased sense of calm.
- Seek Professional Guidance: While tapping can be self-administered, seeking guidance from a qualified therapist or EFT practitioner can enhance your practice. They can help address deeper underlying issues and provide personalized guidance.
NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Well, all of us have been stressed out and feeling anxious, all these COVID, and we’ve talked about many different techniques and tools to help us, like yoga and breath work. However, today we bring EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, to help us. This is so beautiful that we can do it ourselves with a little guidance from a coach, and we have Juliana. Juliana is a registered EFT practitioner, and she is joining me live from the UK. Thank you so much for joining.
EFT Practitioner Juliana: Thank you, Amita.
What is EFT?
NourishDoc: All right, so let’s understand; first of all, what is EFT?
EFT Practitioner Juliana: EFT is a stress management tool that you can either self-apply or have therapy sessions based on. It can cover many issues regarding mental health and physical issues such as physical pain and other things. So what I do with my clients when they come to me is to assess what they’re looking for and then devise a plan to address what they want to achieve.
Although EFT tends to work faster than talking therapy because there is a physical element to it, we tap into acupressure points. It soothes the nervous system and the stress response in the body; we still have to be patient and persevere with the sessions, so we can achieve good results and get to the core issue of the problems.
EFT for different mental problems
NourishDoc: Okay, so let’s talk about how it can help us with stress, anxiety, and even trauma, right? What is the science behind it, and how does it work?
EFT Practitioner Juliana: In our brain, all the information we get from the world goes first through the parts of the brain that are primitive until it gets to our cortex. So first comes through the primitive parts of the brain that is designed to make, to keep us alive. So it goes first to the brain stem that regulates involuntary functions, such as heartbeat breathing temperature.
Then it goes to the diencephalon, which gives us the sensation of hunger, cold, sweat, and needs that drive us to take actions to suffice those needs, and then it goes to the limbic system, which is in those three parts of the brain; they don’t tell time. So, for example, if you had a childhood trauma, when there is anything that happens that will remind you of that trauma to your most primitive part of the brain, it doesn’t tell time; it is the same as if it was happening again and then you have a stress response.
So before all this information that you get from the world goes to your frontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that allows you to think to be creative, to find solutions, to tell time, this part of the brain is the limbic system, the stress response, which will lead you to either fight, flight, freeze or faint. It will be running the show before it gets to the part of the brain where you can think of a solution.
So, as this is to make us survive, this is made to make us thrive, be happy, and be involved as human beings. But when the stress response happens, it happens in the limbic system and not here. When EFT applies to you or if you’re having a session, or if you self-apply what you are doing, you are soothing the limbic system, the amygdala in your brain.
So that’s why it is so good with anxiety; if you are anxious, for example, because you have a deadline at work and you are anxious, you have anxiety, EFT will soothe that stress response in your amygdala, will change the neural pathways in your body, in your brain. It will make you feel different about the issue. If you have bad memories and those bad memories make you feel sad, angry frustrated, you will still remember those things but detached, emotionally detached from the memories; let’s say, for example, is a person who’s now suffering from anxiety, and they have childhood trauma, they have been, I don’t know, emotionally abused when they were children and but they’re still in touch with their relative or their friend of the family who was mean to them.
This is just an example, and let’s say they have EFT treatment, but it doesn’t mean they will put themselves in danger again by resolving that trauma. It just means now I know this person cannot be good for me or they cannot be around my children because they could do the same. But I no longer have those sensations that are keeping me from moving on in life. I wonder if that makes sense. Anxiety is because your fight or flight or freeze response is like this. It’s running the show. You can’t think, be creative, and do what you must.
NourishDoc: Okay, it makes sense. Now, let’s just come to the EFT technique as to, these are, how is it different than acupressure, that’s number one, and and and how does it help in the sense like, I know we are tapping, but how does the exercise of tapping starts with all the parasympathetic nervous system, and that’s what you just explained, right?
EFT Practitioner Juliana: EFT evolved from a technique called TFT. It was Doctor Roger Callaghan who first started. He used to have TFT and a different algorithm for tapping for different issues at different points. One day, this guy called Gary Craig, who was an electrical engineer and saw the human body as one big circuit, took his training.
He thought, well if instead of having different algorithms for different issues, we covered these tap acupressure points, these are acupressure points we will be covering nearly the whole human body in terms of meridians. So that’s what he did. So if you want, we could do a demo now. Yeah. So think to connect slightly with something that upset you, perhaps not some not too bad, don’t need to tell me what it is, let’s say, for example, somebody was rude to you on the way to work, something like that.
So, EFT works best with specifics. So, for example, I feel upset because my mother-in-law is not very nice. She’s not a nice person. That’s very global. So, we want specific. So, for example, I feel upset because my mother-in-law said I’m not a good wife to her son. They’re specific, okay? So if you have an event you would like to work on, you can write down this event, and then what is the emotion that brings out for you? Is it anger? Is it frustration? is it sadness? What is it?
So let’s say, for example, I am sad because my mother-in-law said I’m not a good wife. To her son. Okay? So this is one event, and I am sad. So that’s the emotion that I have, okay? From zero to 10, how sad am I? let’s say I am a seven. It would be 70% sadness out of a hundred, right? okay, and where in my body is this emotion right now? So let’s say it’s in my chest. Okay, so I have a fact. I have an emotion, a rating, and a place in my body where their emotions lie right now. Okay?
I have these four pieces of information, all this information I have, and what I’m going to do is, I’m going to do a setup phrase, and bear in mind, this is the basic recipe I’m showing to you, if we were to work with trauma, it would be different. Okay? So we do a setup phrase, and with the setup phrase, what we do is we prompt the limbic system, the stress response, for the work you’re doing, but you’re also reassuring it. So you don’t have for you not to have like a trigger.
So you don’t feel triggered during work. So we tap, and you can say with me. Even though my mother-in-law said, I’m not a good wife to her son. I deeply and completely accept myself. So even though I have this sadness in my chest because my mother-in-law said I’m not a good wife, I deeply and completely accept myself.
Then we tap on top of the head and say this sadness will digest, and then beginning your eyebrow, you say this in my chest again. End of your eyebrow. Yeah. This sadness is in my chest. One more time going down. This sadness in my chest and bear in mind or whatever is it that emotion you are feeling, whereas in your body you can repeat it yourself. Moving on to this point between nose and mouth, we say this sadness in my chest between mouth and chin. This sadness in my chest and then a couple of inches below the collarbone.
Yeah, do you see your collarbone just below it? There is a sore spot here. Bit, a bit lower, a bit lower? Yeah. Not in the middle, towards the side here. Yeah. Bit lower, yes, there. You see, it’s a bit sore. Yeah, if you, yeah, that’s right there. Tap right there, and you see this sadness in my chest and under your eyebrow, sorry, under your arm, right here on your rib. You say this sadness in my chest. Okay. So these are the basic points, and take a deep breath.
So after you do a few rounds, you access again; how sad do you feel, and then you access again. Is this still in your chest? Do you still feel sad? Are you angry now? Any other details about what happened? So that’s how you work with EFT until the aim is to make you feel completely neutral about what happened. Then we have a few points on our hands as well, which is always good to tap; if you put your hand like this, if you put your hand like this, and always on top of your thumb, these points are very good.
If you are in public and need to do some tapping, you can always tap discreetly onto these points. Here on the fingertips on top of it. Your mid-finger. Okay, we skipped this one. Yeah, pinky finger, and there’s a side of the hand. Okay. So do you feel a bit relaxed after this tapping? Yeah, I can see that your expression is softened up a bit.
NourishDoc: Now, this is great, and what I love about this is it’s very simple, and people can, with some kind of coaching such as yourself, start doing it themselves in self-care, right? It’s not; it doesn’t require much intervention regarding other things, like other modalities and therapies.
But thank you so much; this is a quick 10-minute session that we bring daily; today’s session was on how EFT can help with simple anxiety and sadness, as Juliana and I demonstrated. So please keep supporting us. We are launching our workshops and platforms. So stay tuned, and thank you so much, and have a great rest of the week. Thank you.
Tapping, or Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), has emerged as a powerful and accessible technique for managing anxiety. By combining the physical stimulation of specific acupressure points with focused cognitive reframing, tapping offers a holistic approach to addressing emotional distress. Numerous studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in reducing anxiety symptoms, enhancing emotional regulation, and promoting overall well-being.
Incorporating tapping into your daily routine can provide you with a valuable tool to manage anxiety. Remember to identify the issue, create affirmations, tap on the designated acupressure points, repeat and reframe your statements, and assess your progress. With regular practice and patience, tapping can assist you in recovering a sense of calm and control over your anxiety, empowering you to lead a more fulfilling life.