By Anna Hunt
Life is complicated. Even when we know we shouldn’t over-react to stressful situations, freak-outs happen. It takes practice and perseverance to train ourselves to stay calm when everything around us falls apart. It is not easy, but we can continue trying. Here’s one simple technique that may help you handle stress and anxiety at the moment it’s happening. It is called emotional freedom technique (EFT) and anyone can learn it.
Handle Stress Before It Becomes Chronic
Two of the simplest tools for handling stress as it’s happening are to take some slow breaths or count to 10. As a mother of three, I have used these many times. But sometimes, when there’s a truly stressful situation at work or something is causing you lots of anxiety, counting to 10 really doesn’t work. Your brain and body need more.
When you face a stressful situation, your body responds physically. The brain sets off an alarm system in the body, which responds by producing extra stress hormones. Specifically, the adrenal glands on top of the kidneys make extra cortisol.
The body can typically handle a few random stressful moments, here and there. But many of us are dealing with daily stress due to a work or life situation. As well, many of us living in big cities and just can’t help getting frazzled by the fast pace of life. This is when problems arise. Here’s what the Mayo Clinic says about stress:
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including: Anxiety, Depression, Digestive problems, Headaches, Heart disease, Sleep problems, Weight gain, Memory and concentration impairment.
Science Looks at How Tapping Affects Cortisol Levels
A study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that EFT, aka tapping, lowered the major stress hormone cortisol significantly more than other interventions tested.
The study evaluated 83 subjects. Researchers randomly assigned each participant to a single hour-long session of EFT, talk therapy, or rest. The results showed that cortisol levels in the rest and therapy groups declined by an average of 14%. Remarkably, cortisol levels in the EFT group declined by 24%.
Tapping is a simple method that anyone can practice. The first element of the practice is to tap on a series of acupuncture points on the body. The second component is to repeat certain phrases related to the stressful event or situation. These statements are made in an accepting way, and thus, help diffuse the situation.
Garret Yount, Ph.D., of the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute,? who co-authored the study stated:
This is exciting because it is the first randomized controlled trial of EFT to evaluate a physiological biomarker (i.e., cortisol levels) and it shows robust, positive effects. It sets the stage for further research to explore whether EFT affects other physiological systems, including the expression of genes involved in stress response.
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