Not just during unsettling times like pandemics, but anxiety can appear anytime in our lives. This blog guides you on Emotional Freedom Technique Tapping or EFT tapping – one of the oldest self-healing methods to relieve stress and anxiety. Read to know more about this quick and painless method to heal yourself!
Anxiety is a stress response when you sense fear coupled with apprehension, resulting in a heightened state of arousal. This activates a fight or flight response, to keep you away from danger. Your brain helps you respond to danger or an emergency situation by triggering stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Anxiety stops when you are out of danger. However, this process is useless when you have a date or a presentation, because these are not dangerous situations.
Experiencing anxiety for a prolonged period of time causes chronic anxiety that increases the risk of mental and physical health issues. Because your brain is wired to sense fear even if there is no danger and trigger anxiety even at the slightest discomfort. Therefore, you feel emotionally drained. Also, the chemical imbalances caused by prolonged anxiety have a physical manifestation, which damages our body if left untreated.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as ‘tapping’ or psychological acupressure is an alternate treatment to emotional distress and physical pain based on the blend of Acupuncture and Mind-Body Medicine, both techniques are backed by plenty of scientific studies.
This healing technique uses the same energy circuits or meridians that was a part of Chinese healing practice for over 5000 years ago. Energy flows within your meridians and courses through the body. We all have 12 major meridians mirroring each side of the body and correspond to an internal organ. However, EFT focuses on 9 meridians and these are –
- karate chop (KC): small intestine meridian
- top of head (TH): 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
You cannot see the energy, but you can feel the flow and its effects through EFT, which is all about tapping at specific points to stimulate energy. Tapping brings profound changes in your emotional and physical health. Like acupuncture, tapping works on a physical plane, as well as on an emotional plane.
Tapping on energy meridians and vocalizing the things that are a source of your stress helps you suppress anxiety. This method rewires the brain’s circuitry thereby reversing the effects of stress and anxiety.
What’s going on in the brain?
We all think that a memory is an information related to something that has happened in the past. But, when we think of these memories again and again our subconscious mind treats this as a current event. Let’s say, a doctor asked you what you had for breakfast this morning. Now to answer that, you have to remember what happened in the morning and in doing so you are re-experiencing the present moment.
You got access to what happened in the morning at the present moment, because of your subconscious mind. Besides access, it also gives you the ability to alter your body’s response to them.
Now the question is how do you feel anxiety? How are such negative emotions caused?
Well, when there is a distressing memory, a disruption in the body’s energy system occurs or say zzzzzts, which contributes to negative emotions. This thing occurs in three steps. See the image below.
Without the intermediate step caused by a distressing memory, negative emotions won’t occur. That is why certain memories bother us a lot and some doesn’t. Some people are easily prone to an energy imbalance in response to distressing memory, while others are not.
The brain creates negative emotions like anxiety with help of the amygdala, The National Institute of Mental Health explains. Amygdala is an area of the brain that fosters communication between regions of the brain associated with processing incoming sensory signals and areas that interpret these signals. Having a distressing memory alerts your brain that there is a danger and trigger an anxiety response.
Why does conventional psychotherapy fail to cure anxiety problems?
These therapies aim for the distressing memory and not on the energy disruption. Because these therapies are based on the belief that negative emotions are caused by traumatic memories. Trying to relive a distressing memory can induce more imbalance in your energy system and more zzzzzts. Unless step 2 is addressed, the person continues to experience more pain.
How does EFT work?
The mechanism of EFT can be stated in one sentence –
“The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body energy’s system.”
The first thing that you should try to understand is that all sorts of negative emotions that you experience are caused by a disruption in your body’s energy system and not due to the memory of a past traumatic experience. Negative emotions include anxiety, depression, phobias, fears, anger, grief, PTSD, traumatic memories and all the limiting emotions in business, sports and the performing arts as well as restrictive emotions.
All of these emotions have the same origin i.e an electrical “zzzzzt” in the body. So fear has the same basic cause as guilt and grief has the same basic cause as trauma. This “one cause” idea is actually good because all of these can be addressed using the same general method. And this simplifies the treatment process for mental health professionals.
Through tapping and recalling stressors simultaneously, the energy system would be balanced. Because both amygdala and hippocampus receive signals to calm down, so an internal calm would replace anxiety, fear or any other negative emotion. This gives rapid relief because the root cause (step 2) is addressed.
Consider that your brain is a part of your body’s energy system and meridian points give you a very strong connection to it. EFT Tapping on energy points restores energy disruptions and calms emotional manifestations of stress. Just like acupressure that heals the physical manifestations of stress.
How does EFT provide physical relief?
Negative emotions increase stress hormone called cortisol, which dramatically affect our body chemistry, which results in headaches, rashes, poor immune system, addictions and cancer. As the tapping process resolves these negative emotions, physical ailments often subside simultaneously.
Even when tapping is applied on the meridian system without targeting the emotional contributors, a person gets relief from physical symptoms. When one of the contributors to the physical distress is strictly energetic, merely balancing the meridians gives you a relief from physical symptoms.
On this note here is another version of the Discovery Statement:
“EFT can assist physical healing by resolving underlying energetic or emotional contributors.”
How can you start EFT tapping?
There are five steps to EFT tapping and you may have to repeat these steps if you have multiple issues to address.
1. Identify the problem
What is your fear? What is it that causes you anxiety? The problem you identify will be your point of focus while tapping. For the best outcome, try to focus on one problem at a time.
2. Test the intensity
Once you identify your problem or focal issue, find its level of intensity by rating it on a scale from 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst or most difficult. Rating will help you assess the level of physical or emotional pain or discomfort caused by your focal issue. Knowing your intensity score will help you monitor the progress after EFT. So, if the initial intensity score is 10 and reduces to 5 after tapping, then it indicates a 50% improvement.
3. Establish the phrase
This is an important step where you will establish a phrase (based on what problem you are trying to solve) focusing on two main goals, which are –
- acknowledging the problem
- accepting yourself despite the problem
Your phase can be – “Even though I have this [fear or problem], I deeply and completely accept myself.”
You can modify the phrase so that it fits your specific problem such as fear of break-up or social anxiety. Only when you focus on how a particular issue makes you feel, you can get rid of the distress it causes. For example, “Even though I’m depressed due to sickness, I deeply and completely accept myself.” This technique will not work if you are focusing on solving another person’s problem. For example, “Even though my friend is upset with the loss of job, I completely accept myself.”
4. EFT tapping sequence
Now, this is the main step where you start tapping on the ends of meridian points. As mentioned above, EFT focuses on 9 meridian points.
You can start tapping the ‘karate chop point’ while simultaneously reciting your setup phrase 3 times. Then, tap each following point 7 times, moving down the body in this ascending order:
- side of the eye
- under the eye
- under the nose
- beginning of the collarbone
- under the arm
After tapping the underarm point, finish the EFT sequence at the top of the head point. While tapping the ascending points, recite a reminder phrase to maintain focus on your issue. If your setup phrase is, – “Even though I’m depressed due to sickness, I deeply and completely accept myself.” your reminder phrase can be, “The depression I feel due to sickness.”
- Now recite this phrase at each tapping point.
- Repeat this sequence two or three times.
5. Test the final intensity
Once you have completed the entire EFT sequence, rate your intensity again on a scale from 0 to 10. Compare your initial and final intensity levels. Repeat this process until you reach 0 on scale.
Scientific Evidence about EFT?
There is also scientific evidence backing this whole process. In one 2013 study, researchers applied EFT tapping on veterans with PTSD. Participants who received EFT coaching sessions showed a decrease in psychological stress within a month when compared with those receiving standard care. Also, more than half of the EFT test group no longer fit the criteria for PTSD.
In a 2016 review, researchers compared the effectiveness of using EFT tapping over standard care options for people with anxiety symptoms. They observed a significant decrease in anxiety scores compared to participants receiving other care.
A 2019 study, tested EFT tapping on 203 individuals, the majority were women over the age of 50 years and monitored the physical reactions and psychological symptoms. Participants showed a significant reduction in anxiety, depression, and PTSD symptoms. They reported improvement in pain levels and cravings and happiness.
Recent studies have found that tapping improves physical health by increasing positive emotions such as hope and decreasing negative ones like anxiety. Recoveries and positive impact on emotional and physical health motivated many physicians to integrate EFT into their medical practices and one of those is Eric Robins, MD, a pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine and certified EFT and a number of Meridian Tapping modalities. However, there is a need for further research comparing EFT treatment with other cognitive therapy techniques.
Are you ready to heal yourself?
Try tapping and let us know how you feel in the comments below.
Please share this article with anyone who you may think will find it valuable and helpful.
References: Church D, et al. (2013). Psychological trauma symptom improvement in veterans using emotional freedom techniques: A randomized controlled trial. DOI: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31827f6351 Church D, et al. (2017). Emotional freedom techniques to treat posttraumatic stress disorder in veterans: Review of the evidence, survey of practitioners, and proposed clinical guidelines. DOI: 10.7812/TPP/16-100 Clond M. (2016). Emotional freedom techniques for anxiety: A systematic review with meta-analysis. DOI:10.1097/NMD.0000000000000483 Bach, D., Groesbeck, G., Stapleton, P., Sims, R., Blickheuser, K., & Church, D. (2019). Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) improves multiple physiological markers of health. Journal of evidence-based integrative medicine, 24, 2515690X18823691.