EFT: *Tapping* To Release Stress


What is EFT?

Emotional Freedom Technique, also known as tapping, is a method of using focused thoughts combined with stimulating acupressure points in order to reduce the body’s cortisol levels and stress response. Emotional health and stress levels are both strongly connected to physical health. Using this technique can offer relief from emotional stress as well as physical ailments, with benefits that can be recognized both immediately and with consistent practices over time. 


How Does It Work?

Tapping combines the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (acupressure) and modern psychology.

By focusing the mind on your stressor, whether that be anxiety about a specific situation or the pain of a migraine, while simultaneously stimulating points along your meridian lines, signals your body to relax, reducing your cortisol levels (stress hormones). 

More specifically, tapping on the acupressure points along your meridians sends a signal to your amygdala that you are safe. These signal calm the body, taking it out of fight or flight (survival mode) and allowing you to relax.

When you focus on your stressor while tapping the points, the mind body connection recognizes that this specific stressor is not a danger. So while acknowledging that this stressor exists, you also send the message along your meridian lines that you are physically safe from danger, allowing you to relax and return the body to homeostasis. 

 When you are in a chronic state of stress, your immune, digestive, endocrine, and reproductive systems cannot function properly. By mentally, physically, and emotionally restoring the parasympathetic response, you return your systems to a state of function, which also relieves physical ailments you may be experiencing.

When Do You Use Tapping?

 You can use tapping for a full scope of mental, emotional, and physical stressors.

Tapping convenient, simple, can be practiced anywhere, for any amount of time.

Most frequently, I use tapping when feeling anxious about a situation I’m entering or exiting, or even I’m feeling physical pain or discomfort. While my preferred use is for acute situations, tapping can also be used consistently to address chronic concerns.

A few examples:

Public speaking/ confrontation 
Self doubt/ Limiting beliefs
Acute illness - suffering from symptoms
Overwhelm/ Mental fatigue/ Brain fog
Compulsion/ Addiction/ Habitual responses
Cyclical symptoms- depression, anxiety, sadness, trauma response, discontentment, fear, irritability 
Digestive discomfort (often stress induced)
Immune system hyper-activation or sluggishness


How Do You Tap?

Depending on your source, there are slightly different variations methods. Some use 7 points, some use 9.

While not referred to as EFT, there is also benefit in choosing one point to tap or offering a “tapping stimulation” along the entire body, if this is what you desire.

Many use one statement and cycle through as many times as needed. I started my practice this way, and come back to a single statement when needed; however, this 3 round approach really resonates well with me now (Focus, Accept, Affirm).

I suggest choosing 3 rounds or, if choosing 1, start with round 1 (focus) or round 2 (accept). I do not recommend only tapping with an affirmation, as I find it most beneficial to acknowledge your concern to remind your body that although it exists, you are still whole and safe from danger.

Here is my preferred method, allowing for flexibility as desired: 

  1. Identify your concern.
  2. Identify the 9 acupressure points used.
    You’ll use the tips of your fingers (not the finger pads, unless you have long nails) to tap on these points. Tap with a gentle force - not aggressively, simply a light yet intentional tapping while moving through the sequence. 
    You’ll start at the karate chop point, then move to your head and progress downward in order of sequential location. 

    You can use your index and middle finger to tap with or use all 4 fingers. 

    You may use right or left hand, and it’s ok to tap on either side of the face/body as you move through. It’s ok to switch right/left locations as you go.

    You may also choose to use both hands at the same time. And it’s ok to vary your tapping method each round or cycle.

    The main focus is to know your concern, use finger tips if possible, and move through the points. You are calming your nervous system which does not have to be an exact symmetrical process. 
  3. Consider your set up statement before you begin. 

    Round One: Focus on the concern. Acknowledge that your concern exists and that you are safe. “Even though I am ______, I am safe.”
    Example: Even though I’m feeling overwhelmed, I acknowledge my anxiety with permission to relax.
  4.  Repeat your set up statement 3x while continuously tapping on your karate chop point (blade of hand). After the 3rd round of saying the statement out-loud or to yourself, take a deep breath in & exhale completely.
  5. Starting at the top of your head, tap the remaining 8 points with 5-7 taps while using a short reference to your concern. Move downward through the points consecutively. Example statement: “My anxiety” (this is what I’m acknowledging while tapping my points to say, this exists and I’m safe). After tapping the final point, take a deep breath in and exhale completely.
  6. Check in by quietly scanning the body with your mind, noticing sensations. Do you feel a little more relaxed?

    If the intensity of your concern is still high, repeat another cycle. You can do this as many times as needed to feel a downshift. This is enough.

    If you desire to move through the next round of acceptance, you can move to my round two statement.

  7. Round 2: Accept
    Set up statement-

    Even though I still feel ________, I deeply love & accept myself.
    Example: Even though I still feel anxious, I deeply love & accept myself.

    If you completed round one, it’s nice to add in the word “still” or acknowledge a reduction by saying “a little.” For pain, 

    When I first started practicing, I only used this (round 2) set-up statement for simplicity.  I now like to start with a very focused statement as I found this helped to create shifts easier, as sometimes, in the thick of it, I struggled to focus on the concern and didn’t fully commit to loving and accepting myself and the circumstances. The tapping still was effective; however, this 3 round method works best for me.
  8. Now repeat the sequence beginning with continuous tapping at the karate chop point saying your statement 3x.
  9. Deep inhale & exhale.
  10. Start at head tapping each point 5-7x while repeating your reminder. Example: I accept myself. 

  11. After completing under the arm, take a deep breath, exhale completely. Scan the body. Choose to repeat or, if you’re feeling closer to neutral, you can move complete your practice or to round 3 where you affirm. 

  12. Round 3: Affirm
    Set up statement:
    Even though I experience/am experiencing _______, I am _______. 
    Example: Even though I experience anxiety, I am grounded, grateful, & capable.

    When you move through your reminder phrase on your tapping points, you may use a simple I Am ____ statement or use one word like “capable.” 

    This round offers time for you to now cement the nervous system into your desire. In my example, I desire to expel overwhelm and instead feel grateful for the abundance of opportunities and capable of doing what’s needed. 

    Your desire already exists within you, it’s just often buried under the natural tendency to see the negative in order to activate your survival response. While sometimes difficult to acknowledge, your affirmation is already true. You are now using this round to send the frequency of this truth back through your meridian system.

    I find it important not to start here because you first must clear the perceived threat. Once your nervous system begins to regulate, your affirmation can feel truly more empowering.

What Are Example Set Up Statements?

Even though I am ______, I am safe & whole.

Even though I’m feeling ________, I acknowledge _____ with permission to relax.

Even though I still feel ________, I deeply love & accept myself.

Even though I experience/am experiencing _______, I am _______. 

Even though I think/believe _______, I deeply and completely accept myself.

Even though I tell myself _________, I love and accept myself.

Even though I fear _______, I am safe and whole.

Even though I (made this mistake), I deeply & completely accept myself.


What Not To Do

Do Not Make Tapping Stressful! 
While there is a loose sequence of tapping down your meridian lines, if you accidently skip a tapping point, you can either go back or tap it on the next cycle. 

It's ok if you choose to tap on the right then the left, etc. Allow the body to naturally find a flow and don't overthink.

Don't overthink your set up statement
It's common for people to say, I don't know what to say while I'm tapping. Keep it simple. Don't create a statement that you get caught up on. You can choose an easy template and insert your focus. 

Don't keep yourself in a box.
Often with meditation or other stress relief methods, you have a picture of where you should be or what it should look like. Tapping can be done anywhere, for any amount of time. If you notice yourself in need of nervous system regulation, allow yourself to tap. To get comfortable, maybe you just start on your karate chop point, saying a statement to yourself. Then choose ~ full sequence, or maybe placing your elbow on your desk and only doing the head and facial points. It really doesn't look that strange....what looks far worse is a person completely disregulated and afraid to use his tools because someone might wonder how he's helping himself feel better by doing seemingly nothing. 


Resources for more information 

There are many sites & practitioners that offer guidelines & lots of resources for EFT. 

2 simple & straightforward sites:

Remember that nervous system regulation is a part of balancing your entire system. 

Proper hydration, mineralization, and nutrition, including supportive fats & proteins for hormone balance, and nurturing a healthy microbiome will set you up for success.

Check out our  shop for recommendations on magnesium, adrenal cocktail, electrolytes, trace minerals and more.

Keep in mind the golden rule, you cannot out supplement poor nutrition & lifestyle, so maintain use if supplements only in addition to prioritizing healthy habits. 





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Shannon of Live Unprocessed is sharing her take and tips on wellness through food, movement, and mindfulness.