Emotional freedom technique (EFT), or EFT tapping, is an alternative treatment that involves applying light pressure points to help reduce stress.
Tapping your way to stress relief may seem a bit “woo woo” at first, but folks often use it to help manage anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Here’s how EFT tapping might help ease your stress levels.
EFT tapping — also called “tapping” or psychological acupressure — is all about balancing your body’s energy to help transform pain or negative feelings into positive energy.
It was developed by Gary Craig, who built the practice around the belief that both emotional and physical pain are a result of energy imbalances or disruptions.
You can practice tapping on yourself or find an EFT practitioner for an EFT session. Either way, folks apply light pressure to certain meridian points (aka pressure or energy points) through a sequence of tapping.
EFT tapping is a lot like acupuncture — minus the needles. EFT uses your fingers to tap 9 of the 12 major meridian points (or pressure points), rather than using thin needles.
It’s thought that by tapping on these areas, you’re sending signals to your brain to control the production of stress hormones.
EFT also involves creating a mantra that identifies and accepts problems causing you stress or anxiety. And rating how you feel before and after the process.
Here’s how to practice EFT in five easy steps.
1. Identify the problem causing your stress
Zero in on what’s causing your stress, as this is what you’ll be focusing on during your tapping sesh.
More than one thing stressing you out? For max effectiveness, it’s best to focus on one prob at a time when going through the tapping sequence. You can then repeat the full EFT sequence for the other issues you’re facing.
2. Rate the intensity of your stress
Using a scale of 0 to 10 (with 10 being 🎶 the wooooorst 🎶), rate the issue as you currently experience it. This helps to gauge the level of stress you feel before you start tapping.
3. Create a setup phrase
Choose a phrase to repeat while tapping. This mantra should acknowledge the issue you’re dealing with and then admit self-acceptance.
Try something like “Even though I [insert your issue or fear here], I accept myself and my feelings.”
Focus on how you feel about the issue even if your problem is related to something happening to another person. You can also tweak this phrase.
4. Perform the tapping sequence
During the EFT tapping sequence, you’ll repeat your phrase and use two or more fingers to tap the following points 5 to 7 times:
- Side of hand (SOH). Tap the side of the outside of your hand (also called the karate chop point or KC). Most folks choose to tap with their dominant hand.
- Top of head (TOH). Tap the crown of your head.
- Eyebrow (EB). Tap the inner point of your eyebrow at the edge of your nose. You can choose either side, but only need to do one side.
- Side of eye (SE). Tap the edge of the bone at the corner of your eye.
- Under eye (UE). Tap the bone under your eye.
- Under the nose (UN). Tap the area between your nose and upper lip.
- Chin point (Ch). Tap the crease between your lower lip and the tip of your chin.
- Collarbone (CB). Tap slightly under the collarbone, where your collarbone, first rib, and sternum meet up. Some folks find it easier to place their hand on their chest and tap both CB points, one with the thumb and the other with two fingers.
- Under the arm (UA). Tap on your side, just below your armpit.
After the karate chop point, the sequence naturally moves down your body. For points that are on both sides of the body (aka twin points) you can choose whatever side you prefer. You can even switch hands and tap the opposite side of your body. Do whatever feels right!
5. Re-test the intensity
After you’ve finished the sequence, it’s time to re-rate where you are on the intensity scale. On a scale of 0 to 10, how do you feel about the issue you were focusing on?
Compare these results to where you were before you started tapping. Repeat the process until you rate your intensity at a 0.
We need more research on tapping to fully understand whether it’s actually effective against stress and anxiety. But existing research looks promising!
A 2020 study suggests that EFT may decrease cortisol levels (aka the stress hormone) by as much as 43 percent. It may also have a positive impact on your blood pressure and immune system, which can also reduce stress.
A 2016 review supports this, finding that people who used EFT tapping techniques experienced a major reduction in stress and anxiety. But this research didn’t compare EFT’s effectiveness to other tried and true anxiety-busting techniques, like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
While one small study did find EFT and CBT to be equally effective, we need more studies.
Recent research also suggests that tapping on targeted points of the body can have long lasting benefits, including when it comes to stress relief. This may be good news for those looking for long-term stress management solutions.
But not all research surrounding EFT has been positive. Some studies indicate that there may be flaws in earlier research that may have affected their results. Other research supports this by suggesting that the methods used to analyze EFT techniques may have been lacking.
Maybe EFT’s not your thing, or you’re simply looking to mix up your stress management techniques. We’ve got you. Here are some other ways that *might* help kick your stress to the curb:
- natural remedies, like ashwagandha or CBD (Speak with a licensed natural healthcare pro for dosing and formula recs.)
- eating stress-relieving foods
- progressive relaxation
- meditation or mindfulness
- breathing exercises
- get quality sleep
- massage therapy
- talk therapy
- listen (or dance!) to music
- read a book
- spend time outside
- snuggle up your pet
- calming hand techniques
EFT, or “tapping,” is an alternative treatment that uses acupressure to restore balance to the body and reduce feelings of pain or distress — including feelings of stress and anxiety.
Tapping focuses on nine of the body’s meridian points. By tapping these areas with your fingers while repeating an affirming statement, you may be able to reduce the production of stress hormones and help melt your stress away.
While several studies have found EFT to be an effective stress management technique, other research isn’t so sure. Experts still need to dive deeper into whether or not tapping has legitimate effects on anxiety and stress.
But if it makes you feel good, there are no issues continuing the practice. If anything, it’s a good meditation tool, which can help reduce stress.