What Is Tapping and How Can It Help with Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorder in the United States. No matter if it’s typical day-to-day stress or something more serious, everyone can use a break from the effects anxiety can have on the body. Medication, therapy, and other methods can be used to treat anxiety, and lately more holistic options like meditation have been expanding into mainstream healthcare. One of the latest therapies for anxiety is called tapping. While it has promising results for a variety of mental illnesses, research shows it can really benefit those suffering from anxiety-related problems.
So…What Is Tapping?
Tapping is more formally known as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). If you’re familiar with acupuncture and pressure points, it’s pretty similar to how it works…minus the needles.
Instead, you use your fingers to gently tap specific areas of your body, known as meridian points, while picturing what is causing you distress. You then counteract the visuals of negative situations or thoughts by verbally saying positive affirmations to yourself.
Who Benefits From Tapping?
Anyone with any level of stress or anxiety may find that tapping is a helpful tool. It is especially known to help those with specific anxiety disorders, including:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Specific phobias
Studies have shown that even though it is still not as widely researched as other therapies, it is a safe option that has had promising results with many people. EFT shows improvements in cortisol levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and more. Since this method does not rely on medications or supplements, it is a great option for mamas or soon-to-be mamas experiencing stress or anxiety from pregnancy.
How Does Tapping Work?
A unique combo of therapies such as exposure therapy, meditation, and acupuncture, tapping harnesses “psychological energy” in order to heal your mind. As opposed to acupuncture, the meridian points used in tapping are mostly located in the upper body, especially around the head and arms.
Common Tapping Points
- Side of the eye
- Under the eye
- Chin and beneath the chin
- Collar bone
- Next to the eyebrows
- The “gamut point” (the squishy area on the top of your hand between the ring finger and the pinkie)
Think of a situation, memory, or other bothersome thoughts. Rate the level of distress felt on a scale from 0 to 10. Then, by using a guided tapping app or another tapping routine recommended by a therapist, go through each step. At your starting point, acknowledge your problem with a statement, such as:
- “Though I am afraid of [insert fear], I still love myself.”
- “Despite these thoughts, I am worthy of love and acceptance.”
Go through the process at least twice. Then, ask yourself once again how you feel on a scale from 0 to 10. Make note of any lower numbers. Repeat over time until the number reaches 0. It is best to focus on one problem at a time for maximum effect.
If you experience higher intensity of emotions after tapping, stop and reevaluate what may be making you feel this way.
Tip: Specific Fears and Phobias
For people with specific fears, like a fear of heights or flying, you may imagine yourself on a plane or on top of a tall building. You can say things like:
- “Though I feel unsafe, I am safe.”
- “Though this is scary, this cannot harm me.”
Gradually take steps towards exposing yourself to your fear while using tapping to recenter your racing thoughts.
Overall, is Tapping Worth It?
EFT or tapping is an overall safe and effective option for many people. With time and patience, learning and training yourself to be more in-tune with your mind can be a great source of healing and maintaining healthy habits.
Best of all, tapping is something you can easily incorporate into your daily routine or during times of distress. Who doesn’t need an extra tool in their self-care kit as an option when they’re feeling stressed out? Tapping may end up being your go-to method to ground yourself and take back control from anxiety.