What is Tapping? How is it Beneficial for Pain and Anxiety?

During stressful days when there’s no time to break away from work or family for an hour to calm yourself with some yoga or a long walk, it might be time to try a simple activity that’s been around for decades and has recently seen an uptick in devotees: tapping. The repetitive act of tapping your fingertips on several specific parts of your face, head and body has been shown to lower stress levels in some people. Studies have found an ever-widening circle of physical and mental health benefits associated with tapping. But what is tapping, and why is touching your skin beneficial for lessening pain and anxiety?

Emotional Freedom Technique. Tapping is also known as the Emotional Freedom Technique, or EFT. It’s been compared to yoga, tai chi and meditation in that it creates a mind-body connection, according to WebMD. It’s so closely linked with alternative medicine practices like acupressure and acupuncture that tapping is sometimes called “psychological acupressure.”

Some of the health issues tapping has been found to be effective in treating include:

  • · Anxiety
  • · PTSD
  • · Depression
  • · Fears
  • · Phobias

Some of the health benefits of tapping include:

  • · Lower stress levels
  • · Lower heart rate
  • · Lower blood pressure
  • · Lower level of cortisol, a hormone linked to stress

How tapping works. It is guided by much the same energy-point belief that is used in acupuncture and acupressure. With acupuncture, very thin needles are inserted into the skin on top of “meridians,” or specific energy spots on the body. With acupressure, pressure is applied to these same energy centers.

The goal with both techniques is to bring the body’s energy back into balance, dissolving any blockages in the energy pathways. The same is true of tapping, which focuses its fingertip work on energy points along the body. By doing this, the tapping is supposed to directly impact the part of the brain that controls stress levels.

Research continues on tapping’s effectiveness, but many people have seen positive results and reduced stress levels after using the technique. Other pros include:

  • · It can be done anywhere
  • · It’s free
  • · It does not require special skill or equipment
  • · No negative side effects
  • · It can be done in a short amount of time

How to begin. Tapping can be self-guided, or done with an EFT practitioner. If you want to try doing it yourself, WebMD and Healthline offer these helpful sequencing tips:

Start by voicing one particular stress or issue that is on your mind. Give your stress level a rating between 0 and 10.

Practice saying a statement that identifies your issue, and ends with self-acceptance. For example: “Even though I am worried about making this work deadline, I completely accept myself.”

Start the tapping sequence. Using your fingertips, tap on your

  • Eyebrow
  • Side of the eye
  • Under the eye
  • Under the nose
  • Chin
  • Beginning of the collarbone
  • Under the arm
  • Top of the head

At the end of this sequence, think about your issue again and rate your stress level to see if it has decreased. Repeat the sequence as needed.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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