The Emotional Freedom Technique (or EFT for short) is quite simple, and quite effective. But how does it work? Well, chances are you’ve heard about the benefits of acupuncture for health problems. But we have good news if you don’t like needles: Simply tapping with your fingertips can give you the same stress-busting, health-enhancing results as acupuncture, and you can do it right at home.
Next time you're stressed, lethargic, or just plain exhausted, give EFT a try. After a few minutes, you may just feel significantly better, and for little effort — and you may have picked up a new weapon in your arsenal against the anxiety in your life.
What is Emotional Freedom Technique?
Maybe you're asking the obvious: Is emotional freedom technique evidence based? More good news: Recent scientific studies back it up. Tapping on certain “acupoints” — specific places where nerves connect or intersect — produces calming vibrations that slow brainwaves, decrease stress hormone levels at least 24 percent, and reduce activity in the brain’s fear center.
University of Arizona researchers have successfully used tapping (also called EFT for “Emotional Freedom Technique”) to reduce symptoms of PTSD in veterans returning home after combat. EFT is often used by athletes to boost confidence, focus and prevent “choking” under pressure; in one study, golfers taught to tap improved their technique as much as 75 percent.
Want to see for yourself? Here’s how to do it.
How does Emotional Freedom Technique work?
Using EFT doesn't require following strict instructions; in fact, it works best if you decide on the eight amount of pressure and a good speed for you. Therefore, everyone's EFT might look a little different. To start, tap each point between 7-10 times, using your index and middle fingers. Choose the pace and pressure you find most relaxing — as long as you keep the tapping motion rhythmic and steady.
For EFT to work the best, here are the five places on your face you'll want to tap.
1. Tap under your eye for anxiety.
Facing a stressful event? Gently tap the bony ridge underneath the pupil of each eye. “In about 80 percent of cases, people feel relief in one minute,” says Peter Lambrou, Ph.D., coauthor of Instant Emotional Healing. “This point corresponds to the stomach, where we physically experience most anxiety-related symptoms.” Nervous dental patients who tapped here cut their fear and anxiety in half.
Tapping under your eye can bring relief in under a minute. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
2. Tap under your nose for energy.
Tapping the spot between your nose and your upper lip, called “The Revival Point,” enhances the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain to deliver a quick jolt of energy. Reducing fatigue isn’t the only reason for its nickname: Pressing there is a proven first-aid technique for restoring consciousness to someone who has fainted.
3. Tap your brow to boost concentration.
Tapping right above the inside of the eye where your brow begins affects nerves that travel between the brain and the eye, which, researchers say, reduces eye strain and cures headaches, while also enhancing concentration and mental function. In one Japanese study tapping the point even improved short-term memory in dementia patients.
4. Tap beneath your collarbone to increase willpower.
Tapping the fleshy indentation alongside the sternum stimulates the hypothalamus, the brain’s emotional control center, quelling cravings for everything from chocolate to cigarettes. In one study, dieters who used this technique lost more weight than a control group — and were still free of cravings 12 months later. In another study, tapping this point triggered an 83 percent drop in appetite within 20 minutes.
5. Tap under your lower lip to tame tension.
Muscles knotted? Neck stiff? Tap in the indentation below your bottom lip, and you’ll unwind in no time. Stimulating this point relaxes constricted muscles in the face and neck — the place we store pent-up stress and tension the most. It even interrupts the transmission of pain signals from the nerves to the brain. No wonder it helps treat fibromyalgia, as well as post-operative pain.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.