What is tapping for anxiety?
Have you heard of tapping before? I hadn’t either until about four years ago. Also called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), tapping for anxiety is…well, exactly what it sounds like. It’s a brain/body/emotions reprogramming technique where you tap gently on different parts of the body with your fingertips while you repeat a phrase out loud and pay attention to your emotions.
Sounds bizarre, doesn’t it?
I thought so too — until I tried it. I’ve found tapping to be a very simple stress relief technique that works amazingly well on anxiety. It may seem strange. You may even feel foolish the first time you try it, but that minor discomfort is more than worth it. Because tapping for anxiety really does work.
How Does Tapping for Anxiety Work?
It’s not known exactly why tapping does such a good job of calming anxiety. It’s similar to acupuncture and acupressure in that it stimulates what traditional Chinese medicine calls meridian points. These are energy points along the body that our chi (life force energy) gets trapped in. Tapping is believed to increase the overall flow of chi by getting it unstuck from these points.
Plus, tapping is form of comforting, self-soothing touch. Humans touch, hold, pat, and rub each other and ourselves for comfort. We just naturally reach out for touch to comfort and for simple stress relief…and we always have. Like food, touch is a universal form of emotional nourishment that we all need. EFT provides one way we can better learn to give this to ourselves.
How Do I Use Tapping to Relieve Anxiety and Stress?
It should only take you five minutes or less to learn the basics. Then you can start tapping right away.
With the first two or three fingers of either hand, tap lightly with your fingertips on the places shown in the Tapping Points Diagram below:
As you do, you’ll repeat a phrase (called a set up statement) out loud to help you focus on your emotional and physical feelings.
Choose your set up statement
This statement typically includes a first part that speaks a truth about how you feel right now followed by a choice about how you’d like to feel:
“Even though I (truth about how you feel), I (choice about how you want to feel).”
So for example, let’s say you’re feeling anxious about your upcoming commute to work. A good set up statement for tapping for driving anxiety might be, “Even though I feel this knot of anxiety in my stomach about driving to work, I know I’m a good driver and that I will arrive safely.”
“Even though” statements like the one above allow you to tune into your body-mind and your emotions. It gives the trapped emotional energy (anxiety) a focus and a direction towards release.
Tapping through the points
Use the same pressure as if tapping on a table to make a drumming sound. Make good physical contact with the tapping points, but it should never hurt. Be gentle because some of these meridian points can be very tender. Tap about three to seven times in each location.
Choose the hand you will tap the points with and use it for one whole round of tapping. I like to do one round tapping with my right hand, then one tapping through with my left. It feels even to me to do a round on each side of the body, but this is just my personal preference.
- Karate chop point: Start by tapping the “karate chop” point on the side of your hand. It’s on the side of your hand opposite your thumb, about mid-way between your wrist and the base of your little finger. It’s the spot you’d use to “karate chop” something. Tap this point gently with the first two fingers of your other hand.
- Top of the head: Imagine a pole running vertically through the center of your body. The point you tap on the top of the head is where the pole would exit through your skull. Tap gently in the direct center of that point. You’ll know when you’ve got it because it will just “feel right.”
- Eyebrow: Tap directly on the end of the eyebrow nearest your eye on the same side of your body as your tapping hand. The point is right where the eyebrow meets the bone that forms the bridge of your nose.
- Side of the eye: This point is located on the bone at the outside of the eye. It’s at the opposite end of the eyebrow but before the soft area that forms the temple.
- Under the eye: Tap on the bone right under your eye, horizontally even with your pupil. Be very gentle here as this point is often sensitive.
- Under the nose: This tapping spot is between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip. Gently tap it about three to seven times.
- Chin: Tap this point that’s right in the indentation of your chin, between the point of your chin and your lower lip.
- Collarbone: The collarbone tapping point is directly on your collarbone, and inch or two from the hollow of your throat.
- Under the arm: Located approximately four inches below the armpit, about mid-bra line for a woman. You can reach across to tap the opposite side of your body (for example, lift your left arm and use the fingers of your right hand to tap under your left arm), or lift your arm up and use the hand on the same side to tap. Do whichever feels more comfortable for you.
Putting This Simple Stress Relief Technique All Together
Let’s combine this simple stress relief technique with tuning into your body-mind, speaking the truth about how you feel right now, and then choosing how you’d like to feel.
- Tune into how you feel: Where in your body do you feel the stress? What does it feel like? Be specific. Try to include the location and a label for the emotion, such as, “I feel a knot of anxiety in my stomach.”
- How intense is the feeling?: Note the intensity of the feeling on a scale of zero to 10. Zero would be little or no intensity and 10 would mean the feeling is very intense. If you don’t know for sure, take your best guess. In the past, one of the things I used to hate about driving anxiety was that the level of my anxiety was usually at an eight or higher right before I drove somewhere.
- Repeat your set up statement: Tap continuously on the karate chop point while emphatically saying your set up statement three times. It’s not enough to just think it, you have to actually say it out loud. Using the example from above, you’d say, “Even though I feel this knot of anxiety in my stomach about driving to work, I know I’m a good driver and that I will arrive safely.” Repeat three times, all while you tap the karate chop point on the side of your hand.
- Tap each of the points about three to seven times: Re-state your issue (the truth about how you feel) at each point: “this knot of anxiety in my stomach.” Tap the points in the following order:
- Top of the head
- Side of the eye
- Under the eye
- Under the nose
- Under the arm
- Back to the top of the head
- Take a deep breath!
- Now note the intensity of the feeling (“this knot in my stomach”) from zero to 10. Again, zero means no intensity (it’s gone!) and 10 means the feeling is very intense. If it’s above a two, repeat steps one through five above.
This example video from tapping.com is a good visual introduction to tapping:
NOTE: The video includes some tapping points not described above,
but it’s still a good example of how to prepare for and complete a round of tapping.
Tapping for anxiety really does work. I’ve been using it for four years now for all sorts of anxiety issues, and it’s incredible what this simple stress relief technique can do. Tapping is an amazing self-help healing therapy that’s delivered big results for me over time. I urge you to try it on any painful emotions you want to get rid of. I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.