How to use tapping to relieve stress and anxiety
Feeling stressed? You’re certainly not alone – 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope, and millions of us deal with anxiety on a daily basis.
But access to therapy can be subject to lengthy waiting times, or come at a price premium. So, it’s well worth trying alternative techniques.
Tapping – also known as EFT (emotional freedom technique), and sometimes referred to as psychological acupressure – utilises pressure points in the face and body, combining elements of Chinese medicine, neuroscience and psychology.
It has been clinically proven to manage stress, reduce cortisol levels, improve anxiety and even treat PTSD.
And the best part – it’s easy to do, meaning anyone can give it a go.
‘Tapping can be used for a huge variety of issues, ranging from emotions we feel like anxiety, stress, overwhelm, anger, guilt and shame, to physical ailments like period pain, headaches, back/neck/shoulder pain, chronic pain, and more,’ explains Sarah Tobin, tapping therapist and trainer.
‘When we start not to feel good, or we hear or see something negative, or we are triggered in some way to remember a pain of the past, a negative emotion starts to build and our subconscious puts us into fight, flight, or freeze mode,’ she continues.
‘Tapping on key parts of the body in a short simple sequence sends a calming signal to the amygdala in the brain which effectively turns off this response.’
Sarah explains that tapping allows us to actively manage our nervous system response, reducing and switching off the sensations that aren’t making us feel good.
‘In summary, tapping is a super effective brain hack to tell us we’re safe.’
Tapping and energy hotspots
Similar to acupuncture, tapping is said to work by unblocking our energetic hotspots – aka meridian hotspots – in the body, and allowing energy to flow freely through the body, keeping us feeling calm.
These energy hotspots are thought to lie just beneath the surface of the skin and each point relates to a specific organ or part of the body.
By focusing your tapping routine on these hotspots – for example, the eyebrows, collarbone and cheeks – fans believe we can restore our energy balance and relieve symptoms a negative experience or emotion may have caused.
‘Tapping on each point stimulates the meridian point and unblocks stagnant energy or emotion that may be stuck there, helping to restore that point of your body to full balance and flow,’ explains Jenna O’Keefe, confidence and breathwork coach.
‘It also helps you feel calm as you focus on that point of your body and connect back to your breathing, which stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system.
‘When this is activated it means that the body feels safe. The heart rate is slowed, and all anxiety and fear is released. Tapping also works to release stagnant energy and emotion that we may be holding on to.’
She believes that it’s important to do this as blocked energy hotspots can manifest as physical symptoms (like gut trouble, back pain, shoulder pain or neck pain) or can result in more psychological symptoms (such as fatigue, self-sabotage or self-doubt and fear).
How to use tapping
Jenna suggests that it’s best to practice tapping first thing in the morning,to set yourself up for a calm day.
She says: ‘Sit yourself up out of bed and think and firstly rate the intensity of your anxiety out of 10.
‘You can then start tapping across the meridian points (eyebrow, side of eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin, collar bone, top of the head).
‘Whatever you are feeling anxious about, try saying those fears out loud as you tap on each of the energy hotspots.
‘Then once you have gone through all the points, try some affirming statements. For example, “It is safe for me to step outside my comfort zone today” or “I am worthy of loving myself even when I feel anxious”.
‘After you have finished this practice again rank the intensity of your anxiety and see if it has decreased.
‘This process can last anything between five to 20 minutes depending on how much time you would like to dedicate to it.’
She adds: ‘All of the meridian points will help to calm and regulate the nervous system but for a quick boost, focus on the top of the head, imagining a bright golden light beaming from the crown of the head.’
Sarah suggests that if you’re short on time, the collar bone is a particularly effective hotspot to focus on.
‘The collar bone point is the most effective single spot for anxiety because its directly linked to the kidneys and the production of cortisol and adrenaline,’ she explains.
‘So, if you can only remember to do one thing when you start to feel panic building, tap along the collar bone with both hands, take some deep breaths and say to yourself “I am safe” on repeat.
‘This will most likely stop a panic attack in its tracks.’
How often to use tapping
This is a technique that can have an almost instant calming effect and can be used as little or as much as you need.
However, Sarah suggests that, for someone that is highly anxious a lot of the time, it would be good to start each day with a few rounds of tapping to start the day from a place of calm.
‘They could also end their day with a bit of a review of the day and a releasing of any anxiety before settling down to sleep,’ she says.
‘However finding out the root cause of the anxiety will be the most effective and lasting solution. This can be done with an EFT Practitioner.’
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