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Tapping, also known as the emotional freedom technique, is a powerful stress-relief technique. It combines both cognitive and somatic approaches to healing, and stems from principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupressure, acupuncture, and modern psychology. 

Tapping, also known as the emotional freedom technique, is a powerful stress-relief technique. It combines both cognitive and somatic approaches to healing, and stems from principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupressure, acupuncture, and modern psychology. 

Far too often, we book our schedules to the brim. We accept an extra client or take on an extra project, leaving ourselves with little to no breathing time in between. 

This constant stimulation can leave us feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious, and like we’ll never complete everything we have to do. 

While we know our stress response is beneficial for times when we are genuinely in danger and need to activate our sympathetic nervous system response (our “fight, flight or freeze”), often nowadays we’re experiencing this response chronically. 

Mental Tigers Create Stress

Our stresses are not the same isolated incidents our ancestors experienced. Rather than needing to respond to a physical tiger outside our cave, we’re dealing with “mental tigers,” creating constant low-grade levels of stress. They’re:

  • Ruminations on negative thoughts and emotions 
  • Worries about the future 
  • Dwelling on the past 
  • Thinking about all the items on our to-do list not yet complete

It’s incredibly easy to get stuck in our heads, in these patterns, and what that means for our bodies is that we’re continuously experiencing the impacts of this response. Our adrenaline and cortisol levels are high, our blood pressure is raised, our digestion is slowed, and all of this results in tension, compromised immune function, digestive problems, fatigue and low energy. 

We know the importance of shifting into our parasympathetic nervous system response and giving our bodies time to relax, but it’s often difficult to make time for extended breaks or vacations. 

Instead, we need to find more time in our day-to-day schedule to slow down. And we need to find practices that we enjoy, that we can fit in between clients or obligations, that allow us to reduce feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and stress. 

That’s where emotional freedom technique (EFT), also known as tapping, comes in. 

[Watch a video of tapping in action, here.]

What is EFT?

Tapping, also known as the emotional freedom technique (or EFT), is a powerful stress relief technique. It combines both cognitive and somatic approaches to healing, and stems from principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), acupressure, acupuncture, and modern psychology. 

The philosophy is that when we are feeling “off” in some way, it’s because there has been a disruption in our internal energy system.

By bringing awareness to how we’re feeling, and applying pressure on certain meridians (by tapping on them with our fingers) in our body, the idea is that we can restore this energy balance and change our state, reducing any symptoms that were there.

While this is a relatively new concept, recent years have seen the body of research on EFT grow to be quite promising! 

How Tapping Can Benefit You

EFT has been shown to improve multiple physiological markers of health including significant declines in anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, and physical pain.

While we all often need additional support when it comes to chronic stress, PTSD, pain, anxiety and depression, and this is not a substitute for professional help, it is another self-healing tool we can keep in our tool belt to provide us with support when we need it.

Tapping is particularly helpful in reducing overwhelm and stress in between meetings, or when you’re having a hectic day, the same way you could include a short meditation or a walk around the block into your schedule. 

How to Practice Tapping

  1. Select the problem you would like to address. This might mean thinking about a particular event that is causing you stress, or selecting an emotion you’re experiencing. 
  2. Come up with a short phrase to refer to the issue. This is often repeated throughout the tapping process to help you stay focused. Some examples might include, “I’m feeling overwhelmed,” or “I’m struggling with believing I am worthy.”
  3. Assess how much this feeling or event is currently impacting you. Rate yourself on the Likert scale; 0 meaning it’s not impacting you at all and 10 meaning it’s almost unbearable. This number doesn’t need to be completely accurate, it’s simply a way to track your progress. 
  4. Create your set-up statement. This statement acknowledges both the problem you want to focus on and follows it up with an affirmation that relates to your self-worth, regardless of the issue you’re currently experiencing. A common set-up phrase is, “even though I am _______, I deeply love and accept myself.”
  5. Repeat the set-up phrase three times while tapping on your karate chop point. This helps to ground you in the feeling. 
  6. Tap on the rest of the energy points, in sequence (from the top of your body down), repeating this or similar phrasing. For the remainder of the EFT tapping points you can either repeat your short phrase, for example “I am overwhelmed,” or you can speak to any and all feelings that are coming up for you (see an example of this below)! In general you want to tap five to nine times on each point. 
  7. Repeat a minimum of two to three rounds. After the first round, you might notice that your feelings have already started to subside, or that you’re experiencing a shift. This is a great time to start to reframe how you’re feeling. You can do this by introducing phrases like, “even though I’m still experiencing a little ____…” or “maybe I don’t need to hold onto _____…”
  8. End with one to two rounds of affirmations. Anchor in some final positive feelings to close the practice. For example, “I am confident,” “I love myself,” or “I am capable.” 
  9. Reassess your pain level. How would you rate your feelings now on a scale of 1-10? If the phrasing is speaking appropriately to you and your experience you should notice a shift. If needed, repeat a few more rounds of this tapping sequence or a similar one to continue to bring your number down (ideally below a 3). 

Your Tapping Script

Use this tapping script to reduce overwhelm and anxiety:

Start by getting into a comfortable position, sitting up tall in your chair, lengthening your spine and closing your eyes for a moment to check-in. 

Consider how you’re feeling and where you might be holding tension in your body. Common areas to take a look at include your forehead, jaw, shoulders and palms. If you can release tension through these areas, allow yourself to do so. 

Then, take three deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to allow yourself to ground more into the present moment. 

Take some time to ask yourself how you’re feeling in terms of any anxiety or overwhelm you’re experiencing. How would you rate yourself on a scale of 0-10, 0 being that you’re feeling very good (and likely don’t need this practice right now), and 10 being incredibly stressed and overwhelmed? Write this number down. 

Now, you can open your eyes and start to tap on your karate chop point, repeating our set-up phrase three times: “Even though I am feeling overwhelmed by how much I have going on, I deeply love and accept myself.”

Then, we’ll move into our rounds of tapping. For this you can either continue to repeat the phrase, “I am feeling overwhelmed,” you can allow yourself to speak freely in terms of how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your mind, or you can use the below script. 

Eyebrow: “My mind feels full.”

Side of eye: “There’s so much to do.”

Under eye: “So much on my schedule.”

Upper lip: “So much I’ve said ‘yes’ to.” 

Chin: “And I rarely have time to slow down.” 

Chest: “It’s making it difficult to focus.” 

Under armpit: “To find peace or calm.” 

Top of head: “And it makes me feel like I’m always behind.”

Eyebrow: “Like I’ll never complete everything.” 

Side of eye: “Like I don’t have time for myself.” 

Under eye: “I don’t have time for self-care.”

Upper lip: “I don’t have time to rest.”

Chin: “And because there’s so much that’s outside of my control,”  

Chest: “It makes it even harder to stay on task.”

Under armpit: “It makes it even harder to do everything I want to.” 

Top of head: “It makes it even harder to show up for myself, and my clients.”

Eyebrow: “And you know what? I probably won’t come to a point where I finish everything.” 

Side of eye: “There will likely always be more to do.”  

Under eye: “So, what if instead, I accepted that?” 

Upper lip: “What pressure would that take off of me?”  

Chin: “To know I don’t have to do everything.”  

Chest: “What if I reprioritized, so that the things that really matter are the things I focus on?” 

Under armpit: “So that I am only focused on what I can control?” 

Top of head: “What opportunities and possibilities might that open up for me?” 

Eyebrow: “I am capable.” 

Side of eye: “I am choosing to let go of what isn’t serving me.” 

Under eye: “I am choosing to focus on what I can control.” 

Upper lip: “I am choosing to make myself a priority.” 

Chin: “I am safe, right here and now.” 

Chest: “My self-care is important.” 

Under armpit: “I am deserving of rest.” 

Top of head: “I deeply honor and accept myself.”

Repeat these affirmations again. 

How Do You Feel?

Finish by taking a moment to close your eyes, taking a deep breath in and noticing how you feel. How would you rate yourself now on that scale of 0-10? 

If you’re a three or below, this overwhelm and anxiety is likely feeling more manageable, in which case you don’t need to do anything else if you don’t want to. If you’re higher than a 3 on the scale, or feel you need a little more support, consider repeating the entire sequence again. 

Know that you can always add in your own phrases and words to make the script more applicable to your current situation.

Throughout this practice and afterward, it’s very important to stay hydrated, so please also drink some water to close this session. 

Our bodies are incredibly powerful, and energy work is just one way we can access that potential, shifting how we feel, and letting go of any feelings that we no longer want to carry. 

For More Information:

The Tapping Solution

The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living Book by Nick Ortner 

Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology

Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health

EFT Tapping Research

About the Author

Jasmine Irven is a Certified Meditation Teacher, NLP, Hypnosis and EFT Practitioner in training, and the founder of the Sustainable Bliss Collective, a self-care community and blog for ambitious humans who need the reminder to slow down and reprioritize their self-care. She guides weekly self-care classes, and inspires people each month with reminders to take care of themselves, tips on reducing overwhelm and stress, and encouragement on building a more intentional life.

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