Dr. Peta Stapleton was running a therapy support group when one of her patients suddenly had a panic attack.
The woman was hyperventilating, crying, and seemed utterly terrified. A fellow doctor led her out of the room.
A few minutes later, the patient returned, completely calm and composed.
“I was very surprised” by the woman’s sudden transformation, Dr. Stapleton said. She wanted to know how her colleague was able to end the patient’s panic attack so quickly.
He explained that he used something called emotional freedom technique (EFT). It’s commonly called “tapping.”
Doctor: “I Have Used Tapping on Myself for 15 Years.”
The technique stimulates acupressure points on the face and body with a gentle two-finger tapping process.
After seeing how well tapping worked, Dr. Stapleton learned all she could about it. When she tried it on herself in times of stress, she was amazed at how calm it made her feel.
“I have now used tapping myself for more than 15 years,” said Dr. Stapleton, a psychology professor at Bond University in Queensland, Australia.
Dr. Stapleton has also led studies to test the technique. In a 2019 clinical trial, she and her colleagues taught tapping to 203 people who suffered from stress issues. They gave the subjects detailed psychological tests before and after the study.
After practicing tapping:
- Their anxiety scores fell by 40%.
- Their depression scores fell by 45%.
- Their PTSD scores fell by 32%.
- Their happiness scores increased by 19%
Dr. Stapleton conducted another trial in 2020 that found that tapping reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 43%.
Other studies have found that tapping can also ease phobias and food cravings. Tapping is now backed by more than 100 randomized clinical trials. 
The practice is based on the same traditional Chinese medicine concepts as acupuncture. But instead of using needles, tapping uses your fingertips.
“It’s believed tapping effects the stress center and the memory center in the brain,” Dr. Stapleton said. “Both play a role in the decision-making process when someone decides if something is a threat.”
5 Steps to a Calmer Mind
Tapping can be done any time you have a feeling you’d like reduce. But it is most often used for stress reduction.
There are five steps:
Step 1. Rate your level of stress out of 10, where 10 is the highest level and zero would represent complete calm. Don’t worry about being exact. You can guess the number. You will re-rate your stress level after the exercise.
Step 2. Dr. Stapleton encourages people to state their feeling out loud. This helps you engage with it. Typically, you would say: “Even though I feel really stressed at the moment because of ______, I accept this is how I feel.” If you don’t want to say it out loud because there are people around, you can say it to yourself.
It is important to be specific about why you feel stressed and think about that as you do the tapping process. As you say this statement, tap on the first tapping point on the inside edge of one eyebrow. (See the photo below.) Tap gently but firmly with your index and middle fingers. Use whichever hand feels comfortable.
Step 3. Tap with two fingers through the eight tapping points shown below. Say what you feel. For example, you may say “feel stressed” while you think about what is making you feel stressed in that moment.
Step 4. When you finish tapping on the last tapping point (top of the head), pause and take a breath. Re-rate your level of stress after that single round.
Step 5. If your rating out of 10 is still high, continue tapping as many rounds as you want until it feels lower in number, or you notice a shift.
Dr. Stapleton, who is shown in the photo above, also has a video demonstrating the technique HERE.
Tapping may look a little strange, but it’s a proven method that can quickly calm your mind and relieve your stress.
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