EFT: The stress-relief practice you’ve never heard of

See how emotional freedom technique helped one woman overcome stress, finally relax and learn how to cope on her own.

Woman massaging head and tapping on pressure points doing EFT

See how EFT can help you beat stress. (Photo, Istock.)

After the rush of the holidays we’ve all (for the most part) gotten back to the daily grind. Late January can often be a harsh reality — we’re stuck with months of cold weather on the horizon and too few of us can afford to take the vacations we so crave. Instead of reaching for a familiar vice to help deal with stress (oh, hello there, bottle of red wine), why not try something different? Allow me to introduce you to emotional freedom technique (EFT).

I first learned about EFT during a visit with my naturopath, Dr. Linda Brown of Scott Health Centre in Vaughan, Ont. One of the key reasons I saw her was due to my elevated stress levels. I wanted to learn more holistic ways to manage my stress, and she had quite a few options. I was open to trying anything once, so I agreed to sample EFT.

EFT borrows from the Chinese meridian system. A distant cousin of acupuncture and acupressure, EFT consists of tapping on key energy points on the body while mentally focusing on what disturbs your emotional wellness.

During my first session, as I lay back on her examination table, Dr. Brown asked me what was stressing me the most at that moment. After I told her I felt extremely overwhelmed at work she explained that she’d begin to tap on parts of my body (like my hands, face and head) while saying statements related to my stressors. She advised me that if she said anything I felt was incorrect, to correct her. Otherwise, I was to relax and focus on the statements she was saying. It sounded pretty painless, so I went with it. She then started tapping with two fingers on key points on my body. As she tapped, she vocalized my stressors by saying things like, “Even though I feel overwhelmed at work, I deeply and completely accept myself . . . overwhelmed. I feel very overwhelmed,” and “I am very stressed at work.”

It took me a while to get over the weird sensation of what was happening and focus on her words, but I soon did.

About five minutes into my session we were finished. Dr. Brown had me sit up and asked how I felt. Strangely, I felt much lighter. It felt like a lot of my tension had melted away, and while I was fully aware of my stressor, it wasn’t weighing on me as much. I explained this to Dr. Brown and she smiled. “That means it worked.”

The founders of EFT explain that the key to its success lies in its main tenet: “The cause of all negative emotions is a disruption in the body’s energy system.” EFT doesn’t focus on the negative “memory” that causes you distress (in my case, the memory of an overflowing desk, nasty email or tense boardroom meeting) — it focuses on adjusting the associated energy disruption. Tapping on energy-friendly points while verbalizing these negative emotions relieves the energy disruption. In my case, making me feel better.   

My skeptical side says that any positive benefit I receive from EFT is nothing more than a placebo effect. However, my open-minded side says, “Don’t give up!” I’ve continued to use EFT for a variety of ailments — from successfully minimizing headaches to soothing my anxiety before public speaking engagements. I’ll definitely be employing some EFT tactics before I hit the mall for some last-minute Christmas shopping — we’ll see how things go!

Want to learn more about EFT or how you can learn the technique for yourself? Visit the Emofree site and follow these tips to bring the experience home:

1. Find a quiet space
This is easier to accomplish when you’re at home, but what if you’re feeling stressed at work? I’ve gone to the bathroom and done EFT silently in a stall without anyone noticing. The key is to find somewhere (anywhere) where you can focus on your thoughts for no more than five minutes. Distraction is EFT’s biggest enemy, so eliminate it as much as you can.

2. Try EFT for any ailment (physical, mental or emotional) 
Practitioners stand by EFT’s efficacy for anything from relieving anxiety before a test to lifting the pain of a headache, and I can attest to its success in various ways. Don’t be afraid to try EFT for anything under the sun that nags you.

3. Stay consistent
If you’re using EFT for a more long-lasting ailment, it’s best to stay consistent and practise EFT on a daily basis. If work is a stressful environment, or if you struggle with PMS, use EFT daily for best results. Getting EFT into your regular routine is key to maximizing its positive effects.

Have you ever tried EFT or a similar emotional/energy-based technique? Tell us about your experiences in the comments section below!