Ever heard the phrase, “Hurt people hurt people?” You’ve likely come across it in discussions…
We’re constantly forced to encounter stressors in our everyday lives. Stress comes at us in the form of school, work, family, relationships, and other aspects of daily living. In general, these stressors happen periodically, and then we have a rest period where we can recover and prepare for the next thing to come at us.
But some of our bodies are under a constant state of duress that doesn’t allow for breathing room and keeps our stress levels high. We live in societies where modern-day policies and laws often disadvantage one group or another (BIPOCs, for example). Some people are forced to deal with a steady stream of microaggressions, discrimination, systemic oppression, and more. And being under higher levels of stress over long periods of time can significantly impact mental health, and many of us don’t have access to the resources necessary to deal with the consequences of the stress.
When you’re stressed, your body releases a hormone called cortisol. In normal amounts, it’s actually essential for a healthy individual. For example, when you work out, your body is technically considered to be under stress, and when you finish, your body returns to a resting state. Or, if you’re in danger, your body releases cortisol to ensure you react appropriately. And again, when you’re safe, your stress levels lower.
The issues come when someone lives in constant stress–when their cortisol is constantly running high. When a body produces too much cortisol, it can negatively impact physical and mental health, including increased anxiety, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, and more.
There are various options you can consult with your doctor, including medication and therapy, but few of you may have yet to hear of are EFT Tapping and the Butterfly Hug.
Founded in 1995 by Gary Craig, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) were developed from schools of thought similar to acupuncture. In both practices, there’s a focus on meridians.
Meridians are a concept in ancient (and modern) Chinese medicine where energy flows through points in the body. While acupuncture stimulates these points with needles, EFT does it with the fingertips (or by tapping). The understanding is energy can be disrupted or blocked and cause various health issues, so tapping these points can help rebalance energy and provide relief. In addition, this technique can help with pain and emotional distress when used with other methods or alone. EFT tapping is also a mindfulness technique that can distract from the issues you’re facing at the moment.
While the foundation of EFT Tapping was born of acupuncture, it also draws on the larger field of mind-body medicine.
About 3000 years ago, acupuncture started in China. Around the same time, practitioners identified Qi (vital energy or life force) and began understanding how someone’s energy could be blocked and disrupted at meridians.
EFT is a newer technique with research to back it up. Studies show it’s proven helpful for anxiety, phobias, and PTSD. For example, one study had individuals with PTSD use regular EFT tapping methods and significantly reduce symptoms and distress, and 90% of them no longer met the PTSD clinical criteria. Another scientific review in 2016 found EFT tapping decreased anxiety.
More studies are being done to compare EFT to other treatment methods, but there’s significant proof of its impact.
The 8 points: by Gary Craig
The meridians EFT focuses on can be identified in the following locations on your body:
- Top of the Head: the centre point of your head.
- Beginning of the eyebrow: the inner edge of your eyebrow, just above the bridge of your nose.
- Side of the Eye: the bone bordering the outside corner of the eye.
- Under the Eye: the bone under an eye about 1 inch below your pupil.
- Under the Node: the small area between the bottom of your nose and the top of your upper lip.
- Chin Point: Midway between the point of your chin and the bottom of your lower lip.
- Beginning of the collarbone: The junction where the sternum (breastbone), collarbone and the first rib meet.
- Under the Arm: the side of the body about 4 inches below the armpit.
So now that you know the basics, how do you get started?
There are five steps to EFT Tapping, and it takes just a couple of minutes to complete. Although, you may require a few more or less rounds depending on how intense the issues you are facing at the moment are.
- Identify the issue/emotion
- Begin by naming what you’re experiencing. Take a moment to identify your feelings and any discomfort or pain.
- Example: “I am feeling anxious about presenting at work tomorrow.”
- Rate the intensity
- Sit with yourself and assess how intense the feeling is on a scale of zero to ten.Zero being not intense and ten being very intense.
- Example: “On a scale of one to ten, my anxiety about presenting is an eight.”
- Set-up statement
- Like a mantra for meditation, you need to pick a statement to repeat throughout the tapping process. The first half of the statement should relate to the issue, and the second should be complete acceptance.
- Example: “Even though I am scared, I fully love and accept myself.”
- Tap and repeat
- It’s time to start tapping.
- Go through the tapping (from points 1 to 8 as outlined above) as you repeat the set-up phrase three times per point.
- The tapping pressure should be similar to drumming your fingers on a desk.
- It’s time to start tapping.
- Rate and repeat
- Once you’ve completed the cycle and tapped all nine points, take a moment to assess the intensity again. Repeat the tapping and set-up statement until the intensity has reduced below four.
The Butterfly Hug
If you’re looking for something quick and easy to do in public, the Butterfly Hug might be the technique for you. Developed in 1998 by Lucina Artigas while working with survivors of a hurricane, this technique was quickly embraced by clinicians who saw incredible results.
The Butterfly Hug is a self-soothing technique stimulated by your own hands. You begin by crossing your arms over your chest with your palms facing your body (however, some people opt to tap opposite knees instead). Your fingertips can rest with your middle fingers touching your collarbone or resting on your arms. If it feels right, you can even cross your thumbs to form the “body” of the butterfly. Then, begin tapping slowly, alternating each hand while taking deep breaths. For a visual demonstration, take a look at this video: here.
The Butterfly Hug has been reported to help users better manage stress. It is a bilateral technique that might be a great option when sitting on public transit or at your desk.
Picking the right technique for you
You know your body best. You may have already found a technique or resource that works for you, like therapy or other professional help, or perhaps you’re just beginning your healing journey. EFT Tapping and the Butterfly Hug are just other methods to consider as you attempt to navigate an inherently inequitable society.
Maintaining proper mental and physical health is challenging in a world not built for you. So explore these techniques as an option as an act of resiliency. You can have these tools in your belt and use them in addition to a holistic healing plan.
Make sure to consult with your doctor if you are considering using EFT tapping and/or the Butterfly Hug, or bring in a trained professional. And for more details, click here.