the Self-Care Tool-Kit
Our lives are complex webs of ever-changing
relational dynamics, constant learning, adjusting to loss and change,
background maintenance of life-supporting logistics, and more. And how could we
possibly forget that we are navigating and processing a global pandemic,
political unrest, and extreme weather events due to climate change? As so many
of us are dealing with large amounts of stress, it’s more important than ever
to find and/or strengthen tools for regulating our emotional and mental states.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping is an easy, portable, and very
adaptable practice to add to your self-care kit.
What is EFT
EFT Tapping is a therapeutic technique aimed at soothing the central nervous system. It is praised as an alternative therapy for addressing anxiety, stress, and more. It involves tapping nine acupressure or meridian points along the body to promote flow and balance of energy and the breaking up of any negative energy blockages. Meridian points are a Chinese medicinal concept that refers to key areas along the body’s energy pathway. One reason EFT Tapping is said to be so powerful is its alleged ability to access the amygdala, which is the part of the brain that controls the body’s response to fear, commonly referred to as the “fight or flight” response.
As someone completely new to EFT Tapping, I learned a lot by embarking upon a two-week daily trial. One of the first things I noticed in my research about EFT Tapping is that there are many variations in the descriptions and instructions of the process. Because of this, I quickly let go of precision and tried to understand the heart of the technique and employ it as it was most useful to me. Here are some of my insights from the process:
- I found it to be an extremely adaptable and portable technique that was useful in many situations, both amidst distress and not. It proved useful for calming a rising tide of anxiety, centering, reinforcing positive self-talk or habits, and interrupting cycles of negative self-talk or habits.
- Because EFT Tapping includes physical and verbal components, it proved, as an immediate distraction or a focus to redirect to in cases of mental distress, to be better than many other mindfulness techniques that I have tried in the past that require one to “quiet the mind” to re-engage.
- EFT Tapping helped me quickly get out of a negative mindset and into a neutral one, which I have long struggled with.
- The physical feeling of tapping on the body helped me come back to my body in instances of feeling ungrounded.
- Knowing that I could employ EFT Tapping when confronted with a hard moment gave me a new sense of peace. It doesn’t mean that I won’t encounter obstacles anymore, but it does provide me with a sense of security, knowing I can now navigate through difficult feelings that arise when facing those obstacles. Having the right tools contributes significantly to my peace of mind.
- EFT Tapping was a good way for me to keep questions I’m working through at the forefront of my mind and to consciously and energetically couple my work through the question(s) with self-acceptance.
Step by Step How-To
- Identify the Issue: What problem do you wish to resolve/focus on? Best to focus on one problem at a time and the more specific, the better. Don’t just stop at the surface of the problem either but go deeper to find the root of the issue and your true feelings about it.
- Rank the Intensity of This Issue: 0-10 (or some other scale that feels helpful).
- Before beginning, settle on a phrase to repeat to yourself while you tap. Ideally, the phrase should acknowledge the issue and communicate self-acceptance, e.g. “I am afraid, and my fear is part of what makes me whole.” It is important that this reminder phrase focuses on your feeling(s) and not the outside situation, e.g. “I am in conflict with my partner and that is part of what makes me whole,” is not a good phrase. But, “My sadness about being in conflict with my partner is part of what makes me whole,” is.
- Once you are very comfortable with this process and the tapping sequence, you may be able to move to a handful of phrases that you cycle through while tapping, not just one.
- This phrase should be in your own words but if you’re feeling stuck, you can always turn to the template of “even though I am feeling _____, I love and accept myself completely.”
- Move through the tapping sequence while repeating the phrase you have selected. Use one or more fingers to tap each point around five times before moving to the next point. Some of these points, like EB, SE, UE, and UA, have a twin point on the other side of the body, only one of these points needs to be tapped, but both can be tapped if both hands are free. There are various orders in which you can tap the meridian points, the following is the order in which I tap them:
- (KC) Karate Chop – The fleshy part on the side of the hand below the pinky and above the wrist
- (EB) Eyebrow Beginning – Just above and to the side of the nose where the eyebrow begins
- (SE) Side of the Eye – The bone on the outside corner of the eye
- (UE) Under Eye – The bone under the eye, approximately 1 inch under the pupil
- (UN) Under Nose – Directly between the nose and upper lip
- (CH) Chin Point – Between lower lip and bottom of the chin
- (CB) Collarbone Beginning – The point where the sternum, collarbone, and first rib intersect
- (UA) Under the Arm – At the side of the body approximately 4 inches below the armpit
- (TOH) Top of the Head – Directly in the center of the scalp
- Rank the intensity again. Repeat the process until the intensity reaches 0 or until the effect plateaus.
EFT Tapping is an engaging, adaptable, and portable self-care technique aimed at soothing the central nervous system. The combination of the physical and verbal aspects of the process makes EFT Tapping an easy and fulfilling practice to engage in, in the midst of a difficult moment or otherwise. There are versions of EFT Tapping that are discrete and can likely be done in public with very little notice and there are more conspicuous versions that might be more comfortable to engage in private. Either way, there is likely some version of EFT Tapping that can be applied in almost any situation. Consider learning more about EFT Tapping, (it may be especially useful to watch a video of the process) and then giving it a try yourself. You only have balance and peace of mind to gain.
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