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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

What Is the Emotional Freedom Technique And Its Benefits?

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What Is the Emotional Freedom Technique And Its Benefits?

Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a type of psychological acupressure that anyone can practice on themselves. In fact, practicing on yourself is the preferred method, as this technique is not something done by others, in a way that a massage would be, for example.

By tapping specific pressure points on the body, it is believed that negative energies causing pain (whether physical or emotional) are disrupted, and therefore balance is restored to the physical and emotional body.[1]

The Origin of the Emotional Freedom Technique

EFT has close ties to acupuncture, in that it physically touches on specific points on the body, believed to hold epicenters of energy. With acupuncture, these points are picked with acupuncture needles to alleviate pain, tension, and combat illness. Over the years, however, researchers and healers alike have realized that tapping on these pressure points of the body offers similar results to that of acupuncture.

One such psychologist, Roger Callahan, used the idea to treat one of his patients who was deathly afraid of water. Through the course of her many treatments, all of which proved ineffective, Callahan almost accidentally stumbled into the tapping technique when his patient complained about feeling anxious in her stomach at the thought of water. He asked her to tap underneath her eye, knowing that this location had a direct connection to the acupuncture meridian in her stomach.

Unknown to him, he was building the idea that tapping could ease his patient’s anxiety. That’s exactly what happened – after tapping under her eye, the patient experienced a sudden release of stomach sensation, almost immediately.

To make matters even more surprising, the patient’s fear vanished so quickly and profoundly, that she was able to run to the nearest swimming pool and stand on its edge without the deathly anxiety that used to plague her.[2]

Eventually, Callahan coined the tapping technique as Thought Field Therapy (TFT), where the client would tap specific points while thinking of the problem or anxiety they were struggling with.

Many years later, a student of Callahan’s would take this notion, and add to it elements that we see and use in Emotional Freedom Technique today. Gary Craig, a former student of Callahan’s, added to his teacher’s already widely-used TFT tool. By asking clients to tap on specific points in sequence, and repeat a phrase out loud while tapping each one, he essentially became the developer of EFT; but not without years of foundational work laid down by his predecessors.

How Does the Emotional Freedom Technique Work?

The energy centers of the body can best be thought of as meridian points. These are like energy channels connecting the highways of the body, and therefore connecting us to our sensations – which can often be rooted in physical pain and emotional fear. When these negative sensations come up, they disrupt the balance of the body, and we feel off in some way.

By lightly tapping each of these meridian points in sequence, and repeating how we feel and what we’re struggling with, out loud, we cut the chain of negative reactions and sensations from continuing to plague us.

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Whatever we’re dealing with – whether it’s a bad memory, a struggling relationship, a moment of intense fear – we can use tapping to concentrate on accepting and resolving the negative emotion, so that we can allow the body to restore itself to order and balance. [3]

The video below offers an overview of the tapping points, and their significance in the EFT technique.

How to Find the Right Points

It is generally advisable to tap with one hand (it doesn’t matter which), and specifically with your index and middle fingers together.

Tap solidly for approximately 5-7 taps, but not so hard that you hurt or injure yourself. You want to feel the pressure on the meridian points as you tap; this will come naturally with practice.

The following tapping points are done in sequence every time, and are repeated until the tapping session is over (generally until you start to feel better). [4]

Top of the Head

The first point is on the top of your head, tapping the crown of the head. This can be done with either hand, depending on your preference.[5]

    Eyebrows

    Then, move into tapping the very beginning of your eyebrow, where it’s closer to the nose. Again, this can be done with either hand.[6]

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      Side of the Eye

      Move over to the side of your eye (whichever one), and tap on the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.

        Under the Eye

        Then, move under the same eye and tap the bone directly underneath.

          Under the Nose

          Move down slightly to the area between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip, and tap solidly there.

            Chin

            Then, move down to the area between the bottom of your lower lip and the bony part of your chin, and tap solidly there.

              Collar Bone

              From your chin, move down to the U-shaped notch directly below the throat (generally where a man would fix his tie); move over to the collarbone and slightly below, where it’s not on the bone itself. Tap this area solidly with either hand.

              Under the Arm

              From your collarbone, reach down under the arm and solidly tap the area even with the nipple. For women, this is the middle of the bra strap.[7]

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                The Outside of the Hand

                Lastly, tap the outside of the hand, slightly below the pinky finger, on the cushion of the side of the hand.[8]

                  What To Say While You Tap

                  Once you know where and how to tap, it’s time to tune into what you’re struggling with.

                  Bring to mind an issue or an emotion that you’re dealing with, and tune into how this feels, and what it is. The more attuned you are to it, versus simply trying to push it away, the more it can rise to the surface to be processed and worked through with the help of EFT.

                  The typical EFT phrase template is:

                  Even though I have this _______, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.”

                  By filling in the blank as to whatever you’re struggling with, repeat this phrase as you tap onto each meridian point.

                  The benefit of saying this phrase is to not only release it from your physical and energetic body by saying it loud, but also by accepting the problem you’re with.

                  For many of us, denial and dismissal of problems and struggles leads to the festering of that problem, until we’re sick and diseased with trying to keep it all in. What EFT does is give that problem an outlet and a recognition, reminding us that we are not defined by our struggles. In the face of them, we still accept ourselves as we are.

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                  Some examples of phrases that you may use are:

                  • Even though I am scared of this test, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
                  • Even though I am scared to be judged, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
                  • Even though I am angry at her, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.
                  • Even though I feel this pain in my body, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.

                  How long you tap is entirely up to you. For some, 10-15 minutes is an average amount of time spent tapping. Doing it when you wake up first thing in the morning can help you set the tone of the day, and enter your tasks at hand with a little more space and ease. However, when you tap is still generally up to you.

                  When you’re done, simply sit in stillness and notice how you feel – both physically, emotionally, and energetically. You will likely start to notice a bit more rest and relaxation, as well as disconnect from the problem or struggle that you’ve been dealing with.

                  This is the energetic shift of the energy in the meridian points, and the true magic behind the EFT technique. Come back to it in practice whenever you need it.

                  Final Thoughts

                  The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as Tapping, is an alternative and holistic method by which to tap onto meridian points of the body, to restore balance in the wake of negative emotions or physical pain.

                  By giving your problems a voice and an outlet, and by tapping while speaking, you’re cutting off the negative chain of reactions in the body, and bringing yourself back to homeostasis – all with the simple power of a finger tap.

                  Long rooted in the history and power of acupuncture and Eastern medicine, EFT is a tool free to use by anyone, with healing effects proven to be simple and profound.

                  More Calming Techniques

                  Featured photo credit: Noah Silliman via unsplash.com

                  Reference

                  [1] Healthline: What is EFT Tapping?
                  [2] Thriving Now: History of Tapping (Including EFT)
                  [3] The Tapping Solution Foundation: What is Tapping and How Does it Work?
                  [4] EFT: Basic Steps to your Emotional Freedom
                  [5] Body Wisdom Nutrition: What are the EFT Tapping points?
                  [6] Harper’s Bazaar: A beginner’s guide to Tapping, a self-help tool to help manage anxiety
                  [7] Hopes Holistic Health: Emotional Freedom Techniques
                  [8] Beth Tuttle: EFT Tapping Points

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                  Aleksandra Slijepcevic

                  Accredited and Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher writing for Health & Fitness

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                  1 Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why? 2 Does Depression Make You Tired And How? 3 Overwhelmed at Work? 17 Ways to Manage Work Anxiety 4 Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine? 5 How To Cope With Traumatic Events And Stress

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                  Published on October 15, 2021

                  Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

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                  Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

                  When you think of anxiety, several scenarios may come to mind: the endless tossing and turning of a restless night, dread over potential future events, pandemic-related overwhelm, or full-blown panic attacks. Even if you’re not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’ve likely experienced anxiety symptoms at some point in your life. In these situations, you might feel a queasiness in your stomach, racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, chest tightness, some tension in your jaw/neck/shoulders, or worrisome thoughts as you prepare for the worst possible scenario. But does anxiety also make you tired?

                  After experiencing these symptoms, you may indeed feel fatigued. The sensation could fall anywhere on the exhaustion spectrum, from feeling like you just ran a marathon and need to sleep for two days, to just a little worn down and wanting a quick nap to recover.

                  Below are 7 ways anxiety zaps your energy and how to restore it.

                  1. Stress Hormone Overload

                  Anxiety can make you tired via overloading your body with stress hormones. The “fight or flight” response is a key connection between anxiety and fatigue. In fact, this process is made up of three stages: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. Anxiety triggers our body systems to go into high alert. This is a natural, involuntary reaction that developed in the human brain for survival.

                  When humans lived with the real, imminent threat of being attacked by a predator, it made sense for our bodies to spring into action without much preparatory thought. Such dangers are rare in modern times, but our brains continue to respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

                  The hormones and chemicals that flood our bodies to prepare us for safety can both affect and be affected by several body systems, and this interaction itself contributes to exhaustion. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two most notable hormones to address here. First, adrenaline is sent out, tensing the muscles and increasing heart rate and blood pressure in preparation to run. Later in the stress response, cortisol is released, enhancing the brain’s use of glucose. This is one of our main fuel sources, so it’s no wonder this contributes to fatigue (see #2).

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                  You can regulate baseline levels of these stress hormones by regularly practicing yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or engaging in aerobic exercise.[1] It’s easier to lean into these routines for relief during stress when you’ve already mastered using them during times when you feel calm.

                  2. Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

                  Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is shown to be associated with anxiety in diabetic patients.[2] Many people who experience hyperglycemia report feeling tired all the time regardless of their quantity or quality of sleep, nutrition, or exercise.

                  Although this connection has shown more prevalent and prolonged effects in diabetics, it also occurs with nondiabetics exposed to psychiatric stress.[3] In fact, for all people, the natural stress response elevates blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels, all of which increase blood sugar levels.[4] This means that anxiety causes a double-hit of exhaustion related to blood sugar fluctuations.

                  Instead of reaching for comfort foods like chocolate during times of stress, take a calming walk around the block. Gentle movement alone is a great stress reliever that incidentally also helps to regulate blood sugars.[5]

                  3. Negative Mindset

                  Anxiety can also make you tired because of repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a common symptom of anxiety. RNT involves continuous thoughts via rumination (dwelling on sad or dark thoughts focused on the past) and worry (angst regarding the future). Some researchers argue that having a longtime habit of RNT can harm the brain’s capacity to think, reason, and form memories.[6] While the brain is busy using its energy stores to fuel negative thought patterns, the energy available for these other more productive endeavors is thereby reduced.

                  Negative thoughts can also disrupt or prevent healthy sleep patterns, keeping our minds racing at night and effectively wreaking havoc on daytime energy. (See #7)

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                  Reduce these patterns by reframing your feelings over anxious thoughts. Instead of staying stuck on “what if,” focus on what you can do in the here and now. What activity can you engage in for five minutes (or more) that brings you joy? What are you grateful for, no matter what’s going on around you?

                  4. Digestive Issues

                  It’s common for people to experience both intestinal and mental issues simultaneously. This suggests a strong connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is known as the gut-brain axis.[7] Simply put, what happens in our digestive tract (and as a result of what we eat) affects the brain and vice versa.

                  The gut microbiota is a complex population of GI tract microorganisms. When its balance is altered, the body can develop conditions that affect the gut-brain-endocrine relationship. The endocrine system produces and manages adrenaline, for starters. And the gut bacteria’s production of feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine—see #5) ties into this relationship as well.

                  GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are also found in gut bacteria. GABA is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good by helping the body to unwind after a stress-induced neurotransmitter release (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline). When GABA activity is low, it leads to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. These are just a few of the manifestations that demonstrate how gut bacteria influences behavior. All of these contribute to feeling both physically and mentally tired.

                  You can minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety by keeping your gut microbiota balanced with probiotic-rich fermented foods. Yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, miso soup, and tempeh are great foods to include in your diet.[8]

                  5. Depression

                  Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Research continues to indicate a complex relationship between depression and decreased serotonin—a key neurotransmitter for regulating mood and feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety is also a direct symptom of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin helps with healthy sleep, mood, and digestion.

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                  Serotonin is produced in the gut, almost exclusively, at an estimated 90 percent. However, a small quantity is also produced in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that is pivotal for transmitting energy balance signals. This small cone-shaped structure receives and relays signals transmitted via the vagus nerve from the gastrointestinal tract. It has a central role in mediating stress responses, regulating sleep, and establishing circadian rhythms. It senses and responds to a myriad of circulating hormones and nutrients, directly affecting our mood and energy.[9]

                  Dopamine is another mood-boosting neurochemical that is depleted in depression. It creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness and, when the body is operating normally, is released in higher amounts in the morning (allowing for daytime energy) and lower at night (preparing for healthy sleep). Stress is one factor that can deplete dopamine, thereby leading to depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue.

                  Studies show that dopamine levels in the brain can be elevated by increasing dietary intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine.[10] Both of these amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, lentils, and beans.

                  6. Breathing Problems

                  Breathlessness and anxiety are closely linked, and this is one of the ways anxiety can make you feel tired. Anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause shortness of breath while feeling breathless can exacerbate anxiety.[11] It’s a vicious cycle that often leads people to take rapid and shallow breaths, breathing into their upper chest and shoulders.

                  This type of breathing minimizes oxygen intake and usability. Despite comprising only two percent of the body, our brains consume 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Oxygen is fuel for both mental and physical tasks. When breathing patterns compromise healthy oxygen levels, this can cause considerable fatigue.[12]

                  End the anxiety-fatigue cycle with focused breathing exercises. It’s important to practice this regularly while you’re not experiencing anxiety or stress, as this will help you to be prepared should a moment of breathless anxiety hit unexpectedly.

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                  There are several different styles of breathing exercises. There’s an easy one to try, called “Resonant Breathing.” Simply breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat this for a few minutes. It’s helpful to bring your awareness to any tension, deliberately relaxing your neck, shoulders, and jaw in particular.

                  7. Sleep Issues

                  Most of the elements we’ve already discussed inherently tie into sleep issues, which is often the reason why anxiety can make you feel tired. But it’s important to note that this is not always a directly linear cause-and-effect process. Much of it is cyclic. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we increase our risk of excessive cortisol production, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, depressed mood and mindset disorders, and dysregulation of appetite/craving hormones that affect our digestive health.

                  Sleep is obviously the number one antidote to feeling tired as a result of anxiety. But at the same time, many of these elements—including anxiety itself—lead to less-than-restorative sleep. We can improve our energy levels by addressing each element discussed here, as well as taking a proactive approach to our sleep health.

                  One simple habit to help recalibrate your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns is to get outside in the morning. Sunlight exposure in the early hours of the day regulates melatonin production, helping us to feel sleepy at night.

                  You Don’t Have to Live Your Life Anxious and Exhausted

                  Times of extreme stress, like driving in heavy traffic or nerve-wracking situations like public speaking, can easily induce an anxiety response. Even “normal” everyday stressors, like feeling overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, can build up to anxious feelings over time.

                  Our bodies’ response to stress and anxiety affects many of its functions in complex ways. When we unravel the interconnections of these processes, we can see how each part plays an intrinsic role in contributing to fatigue. By addressing each element individually, we can make simple lifestyle changes that resolve anxiety and diminish the ways it makes us tired as a result.

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                  More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

                  Featured photo credit: Joice Kelly via unsplash.com

                  Reference

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