I (virtually) see my therapist twice a month to help me learn how to control the extreme anxiety I experience on an almost daily basis. I deal mostly with catastrophic thinking surrounding the health and well-being of my children, and this saint listens to me describe entirely made-up scenarios (triggered by one very real one) that send me into downward spirals of obsessive worry.
I’m a lot of fun at parties (not that I’ve been to any lately).
Yesterday she introduced me to something called EFT, or emotional freedom technique. According to Healthline, EFT is also referred to as “tapping or psychological acupressure”.
Similar to acupuncture, EFT focuses on the meridian points — or energy hot spots — to restore balance to your body’s energy. It’s believed that restoring this energy balance can relieve symptoms a negative experience or emotion may have caused.– healthline
A gentle tapping (or rubbing) of these pressure points in moments of extreme anxiety is thought to help one ease through the triggering thought rather than being swallowed by it. Think of it as wrapping yourself in a metaphorical weighted blanket for a few good breaths.
As someone who has tried time and time again to – unsuccessfully – meditate and practice other grounding exercises that involve watching anxious thoughts float by like clouds (I’ve pulled every damn cloud out of that nonexistent sky), tapping intrigued me from the moment my therapist said it didn’t involve trying to forget the thought, or even trying not to engage it; instead you give it your full attention, you become one with it, you let it drop in for a bit and you have a talk with it. You tell it I see you, I feel you, but I don’t have time for your bullshit right now, OK? – or something to that effect. Be as aggressive or as gentle as you want to. It’s your thought, after all.
So, since obsessively worrying about my five and a half year old is kinda my thing, I went with a mantra that acknowledged the memory that triggers my worry, that acknowledged why I reserve the right to be worried following that trigger, but that also acknowledged that it’s just that: a memory. It serves me no purpose in the here and now. My son is a happy, healthy pain in the butt. (He’s the best.) I took a deep breath and we went through the technique three times.
- side of the hand (beneath the pinky finger)
- crown of the head
- each area around the eye (inside, outside, beneath)
- cupid’s bow (center of upper lip)
- center just beneath bottom lip
- beneath the collar bone (find a tender area here)
- side body just below armpit
- crease between pinky and ring finger
We ended with hands over heart, for comfort and grounding. I’ve found that every video I’ve watched on EFT tapping varies slightly from the one before it, but they all seem to touch on the same general areas. This quick technique is a great source if you think you’d like to give it a try. Repeat until the moment passes and that triggering thought loosens its grasp; come back to it as needed.
I went through the exercise with my son last night and he loved it too! That kid usually can’t stop his lips from moving and he was quiet for almost five whole minutes. The EFT gods are on to something here.
Even if you’re a skeptic like me with a brain that never pumps the brakes, it could help you through a few tough moments. Don’t forget to breathe.