How To Use The EFT/Tapping Technique To Ease Holiday Stress
The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and cheer. However, this is far from reality for many of us. Feelings of stress, anxiety, sadness, anger, and guilt can all put a damper on the holiday season—especially this year.
Strained relationships with family, memories of lost loved ones, financial hardship, and the pressure to keep up with expectations can exacerbate the holiday blues. And due to the pandemic, many of the activities that once brought us joy during the holiday season (sharing traditions and hugs with loved ones, traveling, attending social gatherings) will be off-limits.
But that's enough with the bad news! On the bright side, there are plenty of tools that can help alleviate some of the holiday strain and open us up to the gifts of this special season. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), otherwise known as tapping, is one of the best ones I know—and it's free, easy to do, and accessible any time you need.
New to EFT? Here's a quick introduction.
Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a stress-relief tool that combines elements of traditional Chinese medicine and cognitive behavioral therapy. The energy-clearing technique is also referred to as "emotional acupuncture" because it involves tapping on meridian points while being mindful of our thoughts, emotions, or sensations.
While the technique is best administered by a certified EFT practitioner or therapist—especially if you're experiencing complex issues like trauma or depression—anyone can use it for more fleeting sensations like stress or anxiousness. Here are the five basic steps:
- Identify the problem: This is typically a negative thought, belief, emotion, or physical sensation (e.g., feeling sad about not being able to afford expensive holiday gifts this year). The more specific and descriptive you are about the problem, the better.
- Rate your level of distress: Rate the feeling on a scale from 0 to 10 (0 = no distress at all, 10 = extremely distressed).
- State your problem out loud: Use what's known as a "setup statement" here: Pair a negative statement about your problem with a positive one. For example, it might go something like, "Even though I don't have a lot of money to spend on gifts this year, I accept how I feel about finances."
- Tap: As you are stating your problem, tap what's known as the karate chop point—the outer part of your hand between your wrist and your pinkie finger—using 2 to 3 fingers and moderate pressure. Other popular points include in between the eyebrows, under the nose, on the chin, and at the collarbone. Play around with tapping those as well.
- Re-evaluate your feelings: When you are done with a couple of rounds of tapping, re-evaluate your level of distress on a scale from 0 to 10. If it's not a 0 or 1, I recommend continuing to tap until the intensity decreases.
Tapping tips for the holidays.
Once you become familiar with the basic EFT, you can try tapping on other things that contribute to your holiday stress. Here are some examples of how to tailor your energy-clearing routine to this time of year:
1. Tap on your feelings.
Whether you are feeling sad, angry, or guilty, try to connect with that emotion and identify its cause. For example, you might be feeling sad because you cannot be with your family for the holidays. As you start tapping on this problem, be as specific as possible when you describe the reason you feel sad.
It also helps to tune into your body and identify how that sadness is manifesting. Do you feel it as uneasiness in your stomach? You can then tap on that physical sensation, as well.
2. Tap on your cravings.
Some of us try to cope with stress or negative emotions by resorting to unhealthy behaviors such as overeating. EFT can help us curb those cravings so that we are more in control of our bodies.
For example, if my go-to stress food was chocolate, I would rate the intensity of that craving and be as specific as possible in describing how I feel when I eat chocolate. For example, the setup statement could be: "Even though I love chocolate—I crave it so badly, I love its sweet taste, its velvety texture, and it makes me feel so good—I accept myself and how I feel about chocolate."
In this case, I might be tapping on the good feelings I experience when eating chocolate since those feelings intensify the craving and are unwanted. Usually, the intensity will subside after a few rounds.
3. Tap to feel motivated and optimistic.
Sometimes we might get stuck in a downward spiral and feel unmotivated to make a positive change or see any silver lining to a situation.
Feeling extremely pessimistic and cynical can sabotage our efforts to feel better. Fortunately, I've found that tapping on all those negative feelings and thoughts can help give us the energy to get moving again and open us up to looking at things differently.
In this situation, our setup statement could be something like this: "Even though these holidays are hard, I am sad, and there is nothing I can do to feel better, I accept how I feel." Or, "Even though these are the worst holidays of my life, they could not be any worse, and I don't think EFT or any other tool can help me feel better, I accept how I feel." Oftentimes, a few rounds of tapping on these feelings of hopelessness can do the trick!
Suddenly, we might start opening up to the possibility that there are still plenty of gifts to savor this year.
EFT/Tapping is a simple practice that involves identifying your negative feelings and taking action to acknowledge, accept, and, hopefully, start to move past them. Tuning into yourself and your emotions is always a worthwhile practice, but the EFT only becomes more valuable during traditionally stressful times like the holidays.
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