What is EFT tapping? Here's what you need to know about this anxiety-reducing method
While most of us are confined to our homes during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we’re finding creative ways to manage our stress and anxiety. The good news is that being homebound doesn’t mean you have to abandon your stress management efforts altogether. For instance, the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a self-help practice designed to aid the release of negative emotions and physical pain—and you don’t even have to schedule an appointment to do it.
We connected with certified EFT practitioner Jackie Simek to learn more about this Traditional Chinese Medicine method and how to use EFT tapping for your own needs.
What is EFT tapping and how does it work?
EFT tapping blends the cognitive benefits of therapy with the physical benefits of acupuncture to resolve physical and emotional issues. Rather than using needles, EFT uses the touch of your fingertips to help stimulate certain meridian points (i.e. eyebrows, chin, collarbone, etc.) on the upper body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s believed that these specific points on the body are where energy flows. While doing this practice, the person focuses on the issue that they wish to treat (i.e. anxiety, stress, or chronic pain) to remove it from their body.
Simek tells HelloGiggles, “When we are in a stressful situation, our bodies go into fight-or-flight mode, and the emotions we feel are then stored in our bodies.”
Simek explains that when we start tapping on different meridian points, it sends a calming signal to our amygdala (the “fight or flight” part of the brain) and lets us know that stress is no longer needed. “As soon as this happens, the fear is reduced, and a new neural pathway is created, which allows you to move forward with less anxiety, stress, or chronic pain.”
What results can I expect to receive after one to three tapping sessions?
Tapping accesses both your emotions and physical body simultaneously. In a clinical research study, it’s shown that tapping decreases cortisol levels—known as the stress hormone—by 24 percent after just a few sessions. This result is significantly higher compared to other stress management techniques, according to the same study.
“Most of our stress is self-created,” Simek tells HelloGiggles. “For example, when a person is afraid of public speaking, where does that fear come from? It comes from our belief systems or past experiences and then is stored in our subconscious. Tapping allows you to create new beliefs in your subconscious so you no longer have the same fears.”
Simek adds, “I’ve had clients [who], after just one session of working with me through EFT, rid themselves of heaviness in their gut from anxiety they were carrying, overcame fears of public speaking, and improved their energy and focus.”
If EFT tapping is a mental health technique you’re thinking of exploring, see below on how you can conduct this method on yourself.
5 steps to practice EFT tapping on yourself
EFT tapping can be split into five steps. If you have more than one issue you would like to work on, you can repeat the below sequence to address the fear.
1Identify the stressor.
First, recognize the fear you’re experiencing; this will be the focal point for your tapping, as you only want to focus on one fear at a time to ensure you get the best results.
2Rate the intensity of the stressor from zero to 10.
This scale can assess the emotional or physical pain you’re experiencing. Creating a benchmark helps you observe your progress after completing the tapping sequence.
3Create a setup statement.
Before you begin your tapping sequence, you must create a phrase that explains the stressor you’re addressing.
It must focus on two main goals: Acknowledging the issue and accepting yourself despite the issue. For example, you can say, “Even though I have this (insert fear or problem), I chose to be kind and compassionate to myself.”
4Tap on meridian points and repeat.
This step allows you to stimulate the body’s energy pathways. To begin, start by tapping on the fleshy part on the outside of your hand—which is also known as the small intestine meridian—while simultaneously reciting your setup statement out loud three times.
Then, tap each following meridian point seven times, moving down the body in this ascending order, while reciting a reminder phrase (aka an expression that keeps the problem at the forefront of your mind) to maintain focus on your problem area.
If your setup phrase is, “Even though I have this anxiety, I chose to be kind and compassionate to myself,” your reminder statements(s) can sound like the following:
Reminder statement examples:
- “This anxiety gives me a stomachache.”
- “This anxiety prevents me from going out with friends.”
- “This anxiety makes me feel I’m unworthy of love.”
You can switch up these statements on each tapping point listed below. Repeat this sequence two to three times.
The meridian points sequence:
- Top of the head (TOH): governing vessel.
- Eyebrow (EB): bladder meridian.
- Side of the eye (SE): gallbladder meridian.
- Under the eye (UE): stomach meridian.
- Under the nose (UN): governing vessel.
- Chin (Ch): central vessel.
- Beginning of the collarbone (CB): kidney meridian.
- Under the arm (UA): spleen meridian.
After completing the reminder phrases two to three times, begin reciting your rephrase statements. These statements will help you reframe the stressor at hand and create new neural paths for your subconscious when tapping.
Rephrase statement examples:
- “I chose to be compassionate to myself.”
- “I am really open to letting this anxiety go.”
- “I will be okay no matter the outcome.”
5Rate the intensity of the same stressor after tapping.
At the end of your sequence, rate the intensity level again on a scale from zero to 10, then compare your results with your initial rating. If you haven’t made any progress, repeat the sequence again.
How to incorporate tapping into your everyday routine.
There are plenty of guided tapping tutorials available on YouTube for whatever type of stress you are experiencing.