With the growing rates of mental illness in the world, now is as good a time as ever to manage your stress and emotional well-being. But could something as simple (and at first glance strange) as tapping on different parts of your body actually offer significant mental health benefits?
Tapping, also called psychological acupressure or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), is said to alleviate anxiety and other common mental health issues. It’s hard to believe it might help, but given what we know about the benefits of other complementary techniques like acupuncture, it’s no surprise that so many people and healthcare practitioners swear by it.
Tapping has roots in traditional Chinese medicine, shown to alleviate multiple mental health conditions
Developed in 1993 by Gary Craig, EFT is an alternative treatment for psychological stress. Instead of acupuncture needles, EFT involves tapping one’s fingers against certain areas of the body to stimulate energy flow and alleviate psychological distress. On a neurological level, it’s possible that activating these specific areas of the body via finger tapping could send signals to the brain that help regulate the stress response.
One 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials, published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, concluded that tapping could significantly reduce anxiety. Another review from 2016 published in Explore: The Journal of Science & Healing found that EFT was also “highly effective” in reducing depressive symptoms. And The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease also published another review in 2018, which concluded that the acupressure tapping itself was a key component of EFT that helped people find relief from PTSD and other mental health conditions.
Perhaps one of the best things about EFT is that it’s incredibly safe and has no side effects, even if the research supporting its effectiveness is limited overall. If you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, PTSD, extreme stress, or another psychological condition, there’s really no risk of harm in trying it yourself.
Curious how to get started with EFT? Here are the five basic steps to help you begin
You can search online for courses and videos about EFT, but here’s a general five-step guideline to get you started:
- Think about a single issue or problem you’re currently facing.
- On a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the worst, rate how bad this issue or problem is currently affecting you.
- Decide on a simple phrase to repeat as you’re doing the tapping technique — your so-called setup statement. An example from EFT Universe: “Even though I am [upset/scared/frustrated] by this issue, I deeply and completely accept myself.” As you create this phrase, tap on the “karate chop” point on your hand (the fleshy outer edge of your hand, opposite your thumb) with the four fingers of your opposing hand.
- Continue to repeat this phrase to yourself, tap specific points of the body three to five times using two fingers, moving in the following sequence: top of the head, beginning of the eyebrow, side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose, chin point, beginning of the collarbone, under the arm.
- After you go through this sequence, rank the intensity of your issue on a scale of 0 to 10 again. Repeat the tapping sequence as often as you’d like until the intensity reaches 0 or until it has plateaued.
The longer you tap, the better EFT clears stress and tension. Even if you ignored the above procedure and tapped on the various points continuously, you would notice subtle changes in your energy and stress levels.
Here is a link to a previous article of mine on How to Tap :