This month, our columnist attempts to tap into a stress-free state of mind
I did a spot of tap dancing when I was seven and, to be fair, I found it quite therapeutic; meditative even, what with all that repetitive drumming. But tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT) is a little different. Described as ‘acupuncture without needles’, it works by combining psychology and acupressure. The underlying principle of EFT is that all emotions and thoughts are forms of energy, and this energy – whether positive or negative – has very real physical manifestations that affect all functions of the body.
It basically requires you to tap on key points – side of the eyes, under the eyes, under the nose, chin, collarbone and more – to send a signal directly to the body’s fear centre, known as the amygdala, which triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol and adrenaline. This tapping is said to switch off the amygdala and tell the body it’s safe, helping to drop cortisol and adrenaline levels by up to 25 per cent.
Cortisol, as we all know, is the ‘stress hormone’. It’s got an important job and, in evolutionary terms, it helped us to survive, kicking us into action when danger hit. Nowadays, stress gets a lot of flack, but neuroscientists suggest that short-term stress is actually necessary and valuable for cognitive function. However, it’s chronic stress that we need to avoid at all costs, which takes me back to tapping.
So many of us are living in a state of chronic stress, from high-pressure jobs to constant ‘mum guilt’, we have an overproduction of stress hormones – and that’s definitely not good for us. The idea is, you use tapping whenever you feel a negative emotion you want to release or clear – for instance when your boss sends you a shitty email, or you feel guilty for skipping the gym. The tapping of points in a simple sequence while saying (out loud or in your head) how you feel about the situation tells the brain you’re safe, releasing those emotions and reducing cortisol levels. Winner!
Sometimes it takes only a few minutes; for deeper rooted issues it may require a few sessions, but it’s easy for the technique to become part of your routine. Start tapping in the shower, on the loo, in bed, on the train (ignore the strange looks), any time you need it. I’ve been bingeing on YouTube videos by the brilliant Sarah Tobin, creator of Tapping for Mums, who is trying to teach the technique to as many people as possible (it’s definitely not just for mums).Check her out, dust off those fingers and tap yourself happy (tappingformums.com; @sarah_tobin).