Stress Relief Techniques to Break the Stress Cycle

stress relief


“Want a quick stress relief? TRY THIS NOW FOR FREE!!”

How many times do we see headlines like that in our culture? How often do we feel we have to squeeze relaxation into our busy days?  It feels counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? At BPAR, we work hard to build relaxation and self-care into our office, our lives and our approaches. Recently, our team of clinicians took time out to attend the Simmons Women’s Leadership Conference.   This was the perfect opportunity to help us feel refreshed by learning from empowering women, including Michelle Obama. The former first lady shared that she schedules in her “me time” and time with her children BEFORE she schedules her professional work into her personal schedule! While that may not be possible for all of you, there are lots of other ways you can begin to break the stress cycle.

We meditate and teach others to meditate here at BPAR. We stay informed by reading about meditation as well. Recently I started reading Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help that Actually Works, a memoir about how he met the Dalai Llama, and through meditation he was able to look at his life in a different way.  In addition, I participated in an 8-week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course, and I use this experience to help me personally and professionally stay grounded and present.

Our medical field is slowly accepting the efficacy of non-traditional methodologies as more and more research supports their value. Meditation became widespread after functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed that meditation can physically change our brains! Similarly, Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), an alternative acupressure treatment thought to redirect energy, is a field that has slowly gained credibility, particularly after it was proven to decrease PTSD symptoms for veterans.  This technique is based on the premise that disruption of your energy causes negative emotions, and tapping specific meridian points (areas of the body through which energy flows) will release energy and negative emotions to create a healthier balance within the body.  Similar to acupressure points, EFT uses the fingertip to tap and apply pressure to these specific body points.

Along my professional and personal path of mind-body interventions, I stumbled upon Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), and some of my clients and colleagues have expressed an interest in learning more. I even heard from a man in sales who thought he could use this technique while on the phone with stressful customers! For those of you who don’t believe in good and bad energy, try standing behind a furious person in a line, or observe someone as they get so angry when you accidentally cut them off that they swear and gesture at you. See how your energy feels after that!

Want to try this? Here are simple instructions for “Tapping,” an EFT intervention! Similar to mindfulness, EFT focuses on acknowledging a problem while at the same time accepting yourself.  The first step is to pick one specific problem and rate it between 0-10 in terms of the level of emotional pain you feel.  This is important to do at the beginning, so that when you have finished tapping, you can again rate your level of emotional pain and track your progress.  Next, model acceptance by saying to yourself, “Even though I am struggling with (this problem), I completely accept myself.”  Eric Leskowitz describes the process in the following way:  “The patient repeats aloud a series of affirmations of self-acceptance despite their strong emotional reactions … while tapping himself on a series of acupuncture points on the face, upper body, and hands.”  These areas on the body, explains Leskowitz, regulate emotions.

The first step of EFT Tapping involves what is called a karate chop – take your right hand and gently “chop” the left pad of your left hand, right below the pinky finger. After the first karate chop, you can then tap or rub the following meridian points. Make sure you get these 7 meridian points which are known to release stress and  re-direct energy. Repeat this as needed.

  • The side of your hand
  • The top of your head
  • Above your eyebrow
  • The side of your eye
  • Under your eye
  • Under your nose
  • On your chin
  • The top of your collarbone
  • Under your armpit

For a lengthier description, visit this article on EFT tapping.

Enjoy! You can do this in meetings or at work, for a quick stress relief.

Written by KC Craig
Boston Post Adoption Resources

About KC Craig, LICSW

KC Craig, LICSW, is a clinician at Boston Post Adoption Resources. To read her bio, please visit BPAR's Team page.