By Kat Nicholls, updated on May 11, 2023
Try these tapping techniques to ease anxiety
Rhythmic tapping of certain points on your body to reduce anxiety – it might sound a little unusual, but emotional freedom technique (EFT, also known as tapping) could be a brilliant complementary method of anxiety treatment worth exploring.
Incorporating elements of acupressure, energy medicine and neuro-linguistic programming, EFT practitioners believe that energy imbalances in the body can have a negative impact on our health, emotions and behaviours.
By tapping and stimulating our energy channels while saying positive affirmations, EFT ‘neutralises’ emotional blocks. Those who use EFT say it can be used for almost anything, but anxiety is proving especially popular. In fact, a 2016 study compared the effectiveness of EFT to standard care options for anxiety, and found that those who used EFT showed a significant decrease in their anxiety scores.
While more research is needed, EFT could be a great complementary option to explore alongside recommended treatment, particularly as it’s something you can try yourself at home. If you’re trying to overcome something particularly painful, you may benefit from working with an EFT therapist as they have training to support you throughout the process.
For those who are happy to try it alone, here’s a simple guide to get you started.
Decide what you want to focus on
This could be something general or specific. For example, if you want to work on anxiety you could choose to focus generally on anxiety, or something you’re feeling anxious about, like an upcoming presentation at work.
Rate the intensity of the problem
Ask yourself how you’re feeling about the problem right now, and give it an intensity rating between zero and 10 (with 10 being the highest). The aim here is to help you understand what effect the tapping process has had on the intensity of the feeling afterwards.
Create your set-up statement
This is a statement to begin your tapping session, which should acknowledge the issue you’re trying to deal with, followed by an affirmation of acceptance. A common format you can follow is:
“Even though I feel x, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Perform the set-up
This is where you set your intention for the tapping session. Using four fingers on one hand, tap the ‘side of hand’ point on your other hand (on the outside edge of your hand, between the bottom of your little finger and the top of your wrist). As you tap, repeat your set-up statement three times and take a deep breath.
Now it’s time to work through the different tapping points, starting at the top of your head working down to your underarm and finishing back at the top of your head. Use firm, but gentle pressure and aim to tap each point between five and seven times. As you tap, repeat a phrase to remind you what you’re working on, for example ‘my anxiety’ or ‘my presentation’.
The tapping points
Side of hand (SH) – On the outer edge of your hand, on the opposite side from your thumb. Use four fingers to tap.
Head (TH) – The crown of your head, in the centre. Use four fingers on both hands to tap.
Eyebrow (EB) – The inner edges of your eyebrows. Use two fingers to tap.
Side of eye (SE) – Between your eye and temple. Use two fingers to tap (and be gentle).
Under eye (UE) – Where your eye meets the cheekbone. Use two fingers and aim to line up with your pupils.
Under nose (UN) – The area between the bottom of your nose and your upper lip. Use two fingers to tap.
Chin (CP) – Just beneath the previous point, centred between the bottom of the lower lip and chin. Use two fingers to tap.
Collarbone (CB) – The point just below the hard ridge of your collarbone. Use four fingers to tap.
Underarm (UA) – On your side, around four inches beneath your armpit. Use four fingers to tap.
Head (TH) – Complete the sequence by returning to the top of your head.
Take a deep breath and rate the intensity of the problem again
After the tapping, focus again on the problem and ask yourself how would you rate the intensity of the feeling now, from zero to 10? If it’s still higher than two, repeat the process. You may want to change your set-up statement to something like: “Even though I am still a little anxious, I deeply and completely accept myself.”
Instil positive feelings
The final step is to create a positive affirmation. For example: “I am calm and able to cope with anxiety,” or “I am ready for my presentation.” Then, simply repeat the tapping sequence while saying your positive affirmation.