It’s fair to say 2021 has been rather tumultuous, and mental health issues have quite understandably risen to an all-time high.
According to a report from the Office for National Statistics, around one in five adults experienced some form of depression in early 2021 compared with one in ten before the pandemic. And while the opening up of society has allowed us some respite, post lockdown anxiety remains a very real thing. If you’re suffering, or feel increasingly nervous, restless, or tense as a result of everything, remember: you are not alone.
This is where body tapping can help. Otherwise known as EFT (or emotional freedom technique), it’s an alternative practice to combat physical pain and emotional distress, according to health practitioner Tammy Richards. You might have caught videos of the technique popping up on your Instagram feed recently. ”It is often associated with acupressure as it works with the same principles, however, without the needle,” Richards explains. Curious? Here’s everything you need to know.
What exactly is body tapping?
So, you know it’s an alternative method that has its roots in ancient Chinese medicine. But what exactly is body tapping beyond that? Well, it’s an easy and simple way to boost your circulation, which promises to reap a whole heap of other health benefits.
“Tapping the skin on a daily basis enables the free flow of circulation, which the Chinese believe is the absolute epitome of good health,” explains Chinese medicine practitioner and founder of the Hayou Method, Katie Brindle.
She reckons that, by practicing an all-over body tap for as little as one minute a day, you can clear areas of stagnation, support lymphatic drainage, release tension and encourage a smooth flow of blood and ‘qi’ – that’s ‘vital energy’ – around the body.
Founded in 1995 by Gary Craig, EFT is used to help both physical and emotional pain. That’s because, as Brindle explains above, tapping strengthens your ‘Wei Qi’, or your body’s defence mechanisms.
How does EFT tapping work?
But how? “EFT lays focus on the body’s energy hot spots, which are otherwise known as meridian points,” explains Richards. Imagine a flow of energy working around these points in your body. “Tapping ensures that the energy is flowing correctly and applies pressure to those meridian energy points,” Richards expands. Fun fact: acupressure does this, but with needles. EFT works with finger pressure.
The benefits of daily body tapping, according to Brindle, include:
- Releases tension
- Instant energy boost
- Massages the entire body
- Energising yet deeply relaxing
- Instant energy hit
- Improves circulation
- Boosts lymphatic drainage
- Energising yet deeply relaxing
- Releases tension
- Nourishes skin
- Improves the appearance of skin
- Releases connective tissue and fascia
- Facilitates energy flow
- Supports immunity
So, how exactly can EFT tapping help with anxiety?
Well, simply put, tapping can help anxiety by supporting the mind-skin connection. “The skin is our largest sensory organ,” Brindle points out. It also acts as an emotional messenger. Think about it. The hairs on your skin stand on end when you’re scared, or you blush when you are embarrassed.
“Tapping reduces cortisol, which in layman’s terms means it can help you to feel more relaxed, can reduce emotional imbalance, and can lower internal stress,” Brindle concludes.
What does the science say?
According to Richards, several studies support the benefits of EFT tapping. “One study of 5000 patients across 11 US-based clinics over a five-year period showed a 90 percent success rate in treating anxiety and depression”, she explains.
What’s more, there are a handful of Harvard Medical School papers that conclude with the notion that by stimulating the body’s meridian points, you can significantly reduce activity in a part of your brain called the amygdala, according to Brindle. “The amygdala is like a personal alarm system. It’s triggered when you experience trauma or fear, flooding the body with stress hormones,” she explains.
Despite the studies, both Brindle and Richards do point out that having only been founded 25 years ago, tapping is a relatively new practice and so lacking in more extensive scientific research.
Ready to do it yourself? “Consistency is key. Tapping is not a one-time wonder. You won’t practice once and experience life-changing results,” says Richards. She advises first-timers to adopt structure to their EFT tapping practice and try to partake in it at the same time every day.
How To Body Tap: Your Step-By-Step Guide
1. Identify the matter you wish to address
Firstly, identify the matter that you wish to address. Use this as your focal point throughout your practice. Make sure you are clear and concise and focus on one point at a time.
2. Rate your distress
Using a scale of 1 – 10, identify how much distress the issue is causing you and be honest with yourself. This will serve as a means to monitor progress over time.
3. Set up your phrase
Set up your phrase. Make it short and sweet as you will be repeating it often. A nice starting point is: “Even though X is present, I accept positivity and change.”
4. Focus on each meridian
There are 12 in total:
- Large intestine
- Small intestine
- Heart governor
- Triple heater (there is no equivalent for this set of organs in western medicine, but think of them as a set beginning with your thorax and ending below your abdomen)
- Gall bladder
5. Begin tapping
Begin tapping under the arm below the armpit while repeating your phrase out loud. You should repeat the phrase three times. Moving down the body, tap the following points seven times while reciting:
- Side of the eye
- Under the eye
- Under the nose
- Beginning of the collarbone
- Under the arm
Finish back at the beginning under the arm. End your sequence by rating your distress once again. And, breathe.