Simple Strategies for Coping with Stress
Written by LESLIE GREGORY HAUKOOS Photos by MICHAEL COONS
odern life is stressful. Teens especially can feel squeezed by today’s pressure to succeed, to fit in, to plan their futures, to maneuver through a web of social expectations, to make choices about things they may not yet be ready to evaluate.
Of course there is no single path to diffusing stress, but the folks at the Camarillo Health Care District offer a class especially for teens that can be part of a comprehensive strategy for stress busting. It uses a relatively new technique based on the principles of acupressure.
Although Emotional Freedom Technique, (EFT) was developed in the 1990s, its roots reach deep in the 5,000-year-old practice of acupuncture and Chinese mind-body medicine that uses energy flow (called qi) in the body to diagnose and treat illness.
In a simple technique designed to help diffuse stress, conquer phobias and overcome fears, EFT uses various combinations of acupressure points coupled with affirmative statements. It has been called “acupuncture without the needles.”
The technique is an offshoot of another energy psychology called Thought Field Therapy (TFT). TFT, developed by clinical psychologist Roger Callahan, Ph.D in the 1980s, utilized specific acupressure points to address individual ailments.
In the 1990s Stanford-educated engineer Gary Craig simplified the process by defining a sequence of pressure points that could address whatever ailed you. This change made it easy to practice at home.
Demonstrated here is a basic EFT sequence.
SETUP STATEMENT Sydney Springer demonstrates a basic EFT sequence which is broken into three main components. Begin by asking yourself, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how much stress do I feel about this topic?” Then, while gently tapping the side of your hand (the karate chop or sore spot), state the issue and a personal affirmation. For example: “Even though I’m nervous about my math exam,
I love and accept myself.”
REMINDER PHRASE Next, continue to gently tap through the sequence of pressure points shown above while repeating the issue and your conscious response to it—aloud if possible. While stating the issue and your chosen response, gently tap each of the pressure points in the sequence beginning with the eyebrow, moving to the side of the eye, under the eye, under the nose and through the entire sequence, which continues on the following page.
Five or six gentle taps at each spot will do it, and it’s up to you whether you use one hand or two.
Once you have completed the statement, begin it again, all the while tapping through the sequence.
REMINDER PHRASE (continued) Repeat the Reminder Phrase continuously as you move on to tapping the chin, the collarbone, under the arm, the forehead, finishing with the top of the head.
As you progress through the sequence, begin to tell yourself how you will choose to react to the situation. A more advanced EFT, called “choice,” takes the technique to the next level. For example, if the Setup Statement was “Even though I’m nervous about my math exam, I love and accept myself,” the choice affirmation sounds like this: “Even though I have this huge math exam, I choose to be calm and confident about it.”
TEST IT/BREATHE/REPEAT AS NEEDED Once you’ve finished tapping through the sequence, pause a moment. Ask yourself, “On a scale of 0 to 10, how much stress do I feel about this issue now?” Compare with the number you began with. If your stress has not yet decreased to a level of 0 or 1, take a deep breath and begin the sequence again.
Continue to repeat the whole process until your stress level has reached a level 0 or 1.
You may find that, as you state the issue causing you stress and your conscious response to it, your statement evolves. You may even find your insight into the issue changing as you tap through it. In subsequent rounds, feel free to adjust the Setup Phrase to reflect that you are specifically addressing the part of the problem that remains.
“My goal is to not have repeat business,” says Kim Kolb, life coach, personal trainer and instructor of the EFT class for teens at Camarillo Health Care District. Her objective is to empower students to deal with stress on their own, any time, any place, throughout their lives, using this simple technique and the strategies that stem from it. Though there are many reasons to practice EFT, Kim says it comes down to two main points: First, EFT redirects when our instinctive response to a situation is fight-or-flight. “One of the best things EFT does is to keep our reaction in the area of the brain that allows us to stay calm and react with a clear head.” Second, EFT opens up energy flow meridians, or qi, that get crimped “like a garden hose.” Although the class is specifically for teens who must maneuver through a labyrinth of stressful situations each day, EFT is equally effective for adults and can even be used with small children. For the little ones, though, you’d restate the reminder phrase to say something like, “Even though that kid at preschool isn’t nice to me, I’m a good person.” Camarillo Health Care District’s next EFT class for teens begins January 24. For information, visit www.camhealth.com.