The Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT is a therapeutic acupressure technique used to manage physical pain and emotional distress. Analogous to Chinese Medicine like traditional acupuncture, Qigong, and Tai Chi, EFT is based on the meridian points in the body. By simply using the fingertips to tap on a specific area like the head or chest, EFT sends kinetic energy to the meridian points. This technique of using the fingertips is also why EFT is commonly referred to as “tapping”. However, tapping alone doesn’t do the trick. Additionally, EFT requires contemplating the targeted ailment like a negative thought for example, while voicing positive affirmations. Combining these elements is used to “clear” the emotional block from your system allowing your body to restore balance increasing overall wellbeing. Many have used this relaxation technique to remove undesired emotions, reduce chronic stress, eliminate pain, and also eliminate food cravings. It has even been used as an effective treatment for PTSD. Requiring only a little practice, EFT is relatively easy to learn. This technique can be used up to 10x a day while under stressful situations or just in daily life and is a beneficial way to consciously start your morning and end your evening centered and collected.
Meditation is a simple, yet effective way to manage stress levels. Even just a few minutes of meditation can have a profound effect on stress-reduction and your overall well-being. Meditation practices can be done anywhere—on the subway, in the car, at an appointment, and even in the middle of a stressful situation. It can produce a deep sense of stillness and relaxation allowing you to feel calm in just a matter of minutes. There are wide varieties of meditation techniques including guided meditations, mantras, transcendental meditation, and mindfulness—most forms require focused attention, a quiet setting, a comfortable sitting position, and an open mind. Practicing this relaxation technique on your own can be done through simple breathing exercises like taking deep breaths, scanning your body, and increasing focus. The possibilities are endless and personalizing your practice allows you to examine the most practical way for you to stay calm, reframe your perspective, and experience peace of mind.
Breathing is something we do without thinking, but could this physical constant be a doorway to inner peace? Studies have shown slowing the breath intentionally induces tranquility. Similar to meditation, you can practice breathing techniques anywhere in your daily life. With the ability breathwork has to induce altered states of consciousness as seen in Holotropic Breathwork, it's no surprise that it can also reduce stress and promote relaxation. Several methods of breathing such as diaphragmatic breathing, alternate nostril breathing, and deep breathing have been used to combat stress hormones, balance the central nervous system, and decrease symptoms of anxiety disorder. Implementing this practice into your daily routine not only enhances your mind-body connection but also eases chronic stress improving your mental health and bringing you closer to a state of calmness.
Many of us have been cooped up inside lately, an unfortunate side effect of helping yourself and others stay safe during the pandemic. Simply going to the local park, or walking around the neighborhood can have a positive result on your mental health. Research shows that just 10 minutes in nature can provide stress relief. Spending time in nature can also balance your sleep schedule through sunlight’s ability to regulate your melatonin levels. Moreover, a study conducted by the University of Colorado in Boulder found that bacteria in soil can act as a natural antidepressant by increasing serotonin in parts of the brain that control mood. With leaving your technological devices aside and entering a natural environment, you are able to center your mind away from your everyday stressors and distractions while catching some fresh air.
The long-standing physical benefits of exercise have been repeatedly recognized but movement has been equally shown to have a powerful impact on one’s mental health. Regular movement can be effective for stress management, reducing fatigue, improving concentration, and overall cognitive function. Physical activity can also elevate and stabilize mood, lower blood pressure, improve self-esteem, and regulate sleep patterns. A recent study revealed strong evidence that exercise and regular activity reduces symptoms of anxiety disorders. Furthermore, when you exercise you release endorphins which are feel-good neurotransmitters that combat negative thoughts. Being active not only holds physical benefits but can nourish your mental state as well. Although not often thought of as a relaxation technique, physical activity can reduce stress while positively impacting your quality of life.
Studies have shown that music can decrease anxiety, increase focus, and improve mood. Binaural Beats are an auditory illusion that uses two different frequencies in each ear to create an illusion of a single sound. This illusion causes neurons to send electrical messages at the same rate as the illusionary beat. There are five categories of frequency patterns for binaural beats—delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma patterns. Theta and Alpha patterns are typically used for improved meditation, relaxation, and creativity making them a viable option for staying calm and centered. While there is more research to be done, depending on the frequencies, the binaural beats may have a positive effect on your central nervous system improving focus, stress levels, and overall mood.
Investing In You
During these unprecedented times, it’s easy to lose touch with our center and balance. Allow these 6 modalities to offer a simple yet effective way for you to stay calm, most of which you can do from the comfort of your own home or neighborhood. Incorporating these relaxation techniques when you feel stressed or even if you’re just in need of a quick mental refresher, can be a significant and beneficial way to invest in your mental health.
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“Exercise and Stress: Get Moving to Manage Stress.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 18 Aug. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/exercise-and-stress/art-20044469.
Serani, Deborah. “Binaural Beats Music Can Reduce Depression.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 23 May 2020, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/two-takes-depression/202005/binaural-beats-music-can-reduce-depression.
Team, GoodTherapy Editor. “Emotional Freedom Technique.”
GoodTherapy, GoodTherapy, 10 Oct. 2018, www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/emotional-freedom-technique.