By: Kaci Ikels, RN, IHP – Certified Health Coach
What do you do when a client comes to you with a sympathetic nervous system in overload? There are so many options for things to suggest from supplements, lab testing, nutrition, meditation and lifestyle changes. How do you know where to start?
Ask your client what sort of practices they already use for stress reduction. Begin where they already are! I find the biggest thing that flips your sympathetic nervous system into an uproar is stress. Stress can be internal (think SIBO or yeast overgrowth) or external (think family and work). Everyone encounters stress. Likely your client has already tried some things to help and knows where they have had at least some success. You can build upon their successes, as well as bringing in some new techniques.
I find that the key to stress reduction is in the processing of stress, not the ignoring or “just pushing through.” Keep in mind stress can be a learned response, stemming from times in our past when we felt we weren’t safe (maybe a childhood trigger or car accident). The cycle just keeps perpetuating itself, until you process through it. Life itself is stressful these days, from family to work, we all have busy lives. It has become a badge of honor to be super busy! We have somehow, without even knowing it, entered into a competition with each other about how busy we are. It is important to decide for ourselves what our priorities are and make time for those things, while decreasing the amount of time we commit to things that don’t bring us joy. Yes, you will still have to feed your family and head to work but find places where you can add joy and subtract stress! This won’t always be possible, of course, but by becoming intentional about your life, you will begin to move yourself into a place of positive change. These changes add up over time and before you know it, you will have grown more than you might have initially imagined.
Today, I want to introduce a stress reduction technique you may not have heard about that you can share with your clients (or try it for yourself!). EFT (emotional freedom technique) or tapping is a technique that blends acupressure with affirmations and breathwork to down regulate your vagus nerve. This brings those stress levels down quickly and naturally. It begins with affirming what actually is happening (the truthful cause of your stress), no toxic positivity here! As you tap through the points, you begin to move the affirmations to those of safety and growth. This all comes together to retrain your brain to feel safe when you encounter your stressors. It serves to reprogram your amygdala not to react when the stressor comes up. Studies on tapping show significant reductions in anxiety and stress after even one 10-minute session of tapping. And it’s free! You can find videos, articles and books online, some of which have no cost, so it’s easy to give it a try.
There are 9 main points you use to tap, while saying the affirmations in your head or even out loud. Karate chop (side of palm), eyebrow point (where your eyebrow starts in the middle), side of your eye, under your eye, under your nose, under your mouth, collarbone (just to the side of the middle of your collarbone), under your arm (where your bra strap would be) and the top of your head. You tap these points with light to moderate pressure with the fingertips. There are other points, but these are the ones I use the most often. Different practitioners teach different methods, but the goal is always the same.
The first step is to rate your stress on a scale of 1-10. This gives you a reference for where you begin, to compare to where your stress levels are after your session. You begin tapping with a setup statement that affirms what is actually happening (accepting what is): “Even though I am stressed out, I choose to completely accept and love myself” or “Even though I feel stressed right now, anyone would feel this way in this situation” – you say this three times while tapping the karate chop point.
While tapping each of the other eight points, you say the negative statements. This is giving a voice to those truths so you can clear them. For instance, “All this stress,” “This stress I feel,” “These stressful feelings.” Do 1-2 rounds of these more negative statements, until you feel some of the stress ease. You may find you take deep breaths without thinking or yawn. This is from that shift in your energy!
Then you continue through the eight points again while affirming the positive. “I choose to relax,” “I am safe in my body,” “I choose to release this feeling of stress.” It’s not about exactly what you say so don’t get to wrapped up in that! Just keep tapping for these last two rounds, ending with the top of your head. Take a deep breath and rate your stress again. Is it lower? Even one point lower is a move in the right direction.
This method can make you feel weird, but honestly who hasn’t done something strange on their quest for health (hello, coffee enemas and fasting protocols)? I encourage you to try this for yourself and seek out resources for more learning on the topic.
“All it takes is one new perspective or tool and your life will never be the same again.” -Marie Forleo
Connect with me:
Kaci Ikels RN, BSN, IHP2
Resources for more learning:
www.thetappingsolution.com – provides teaching as well as an app. Some of the content is free and some is paid. There are also books and courses available for a deep dive!
Tap with Brad on You Tube – He has loads of free content on YouTube where you can see him tapping and guiding you through scripts for different topics. He also has a website where he teaches courses.
www.eftuniverse.com – A website where Dawson Church teaches about tapping. He also has tapping videos on his YouTube for free! He has written several books about tapping and its benefits.
www.petastapleton.com – Dr. Stapleton is a registered Clinical and Health Psychologist and well-known researcher in tapping. She has completed the first randomized clinical trials in the world for tapping! She works closely with Dawson Church on these studies, more are coming out all the time.