By Georgina Berbari

Thus far, 2020 has certainly been a test of implementing the various coping mechanisms that I’ve accumulated over the years. To ease the bouts of intense anxiety that have come with living through a global pandemic, navigating unemployment, and dejectedly observing our current political landscape I’ve found myself turning to things like breathing practices, meditation, and journaling. 

After doing some research on self-soothing rituals to add to my quarantine toolbox, I came across an emotional freedom technique (EFT) called tapping. If you’ve never tried tapping, read on to learn how the thousands-of-years-old practice can help soothe stress in minutes.


What is tapping?

Tapping is an emotional freedom technique that’s been around for thousands in years, but rose in popularity in the 80’s. This particular healing modality was crafted in order to help calm the central nervous system, thus easing stress, pain, and anxiety, among other difficult emotions. 

By tapping one’s fingers on specific points of the body, tension, emotion or energy blockages are released from the body. This closely corresponds to Chinese medicine’s acupuncture meridians of the body. According to alternative medicine practitioners, tapping (like acupuncture), targets these specific meridians and clears energy blockages within them.

So what are these meridians? Well, tapping points usually include the top of the head, outside edge of the hand, forehead, in-between eyebrows, temples, under the nose, chin, collarbones, and under the arm. By using your fingertips to tap along these meridians, stress is released and emotional healing begins to take place. 


The science behind tapping

According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, EFT tapping led to a decrease in participant’s levels of cortisol (aka the stress hormone) and led to improvements in anxiety and mood. Another study which was published in Explore in 2013 showed tapping’s ability to reduce the symptoms of tension headaches. This study suggested that tapping may help reduce the intensity and frequency of these headaches.

Even if you aren’t suffering from pain or emotional dysregulation, tapping will probably still feel really great for you. This is due to its ability to improve blood circulation and energy flow, making it an exceptional practice to help you wake up each morning with intention. 


Incorporating tapping into your ritual practice

If you’re intrigued by tapping and would like to add it to your morning ritual, here’s how to get started:

    1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and relax your shoulders, letting your arms hang loosely by your sides.
    2. Starting at the head, use your fingertips to tap across the entire surface of your head using a gentle kind of power. This includes your upper neck, as well, so don’t be shy.
    3. Massage your head a bit and then traverse your fingertips past your forehead and across your face, keeping your intentional tapping rhythm going. Tap gently around your eyebrows, under your eyes, your cheekbones and your jaw. While you’re doing this, you can move your head slowly to stretch out your neck muscles and access different areas of the head.
    4. Tap/massage down the back of the neck and then gently bring your fingertips down the front of your neck. Keep in mind you don’t always have to be literally tapping during this process — for me, it feels really good to stroke the neck gently, mindfully using touch to make my way down to my chest.
    5. Continue this process across the chest, shoulders (adding massage if this area is extra tight), elbows, the inside of the arms, and back of the arms.
    6. Breathe in deeply and exhale as you bend at the hips and fold forward keeping your knees slightly bent and letting your body hang down towards the floor like a ragdoll. Release any tension in your head, neck and shoulders and then begin to tap your lower back, followed by your hips and glutes. These areas are sturdy and may require more pressure.
    7. Continue tapping your fingers down your legs, onto your ankles, and then up the inside of your legs and the top of your thighs. Finish by tapping the top and bottoms of your feet, perhaps ending your ritual by massaging the bottoms of the feet and thus releasing additional, sneaky tension hiding throughout your body. If you have any pain while folding forward, you can try this on a chair or sitting on the floor instead.
    8. If you’re in the forward fold, slowly roll up vertebrae by vertebrae until you’re standing tall. Stretch your body in any other ways that feel good and finish by closing your eyes, relaxing your shoulders, and taking three deep belly-breaths. Thank yourself and your body for showing up and tending to your well-being. 

Image Credits: Kyle Thompson