By Christine Wheeler, MA
How does your body react to stress? Are you prone to neck pain or headaches after a hard day at work? Does your blood pressure rise when you"ve had an argument with your spouse?
According to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) report on stress and disease, stress can have a cumulative effect on your body, lowering your immune function and making you more susceptible to infection or inflammatory diseases.
If you are struggling to reduce your stress response, this article contains four ways to enhance your current stress-management program using Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). Conventional stress-management protocols like meditation, relaxation exercises, deep breathing or anti-anxiety medication may help people cope with stress. But they do not address the cause of stress.
EFT, considered by many to be the ultimate stress-management tool, targets a person"s disrupted energy meridian system as the real driver behind heightened stress levels. This simple do-it-yourself acupressure technique balances the energy and eliminates the body and mind"s stress response.
Gary Craig, the Stanford-trained engineer who developed EFT, says, "According to EFT theory, people who have a heightened stress response also have a disrupted energy meridian system. Conventional coping strategies tend to be ineffective because they fail to balance these vital pathways."
Four NIH Stress-Management Tips and How EFT is Used to Enhance Them
1. Reduce Negative Thinking
People with negative attitudes may experience events or emotions as being more stressful than people with positive attitudes. The NIH recommends changing your negative attitude and making an effort to stop negative thinking. Their solution is to "plan some fun, take a break." EFT offers a deeper solution.
According to EFT theory, unresolved negative emotions and thoughts are caused by a disruption in your body"s subtle energy system. Until that disruption is balanced, willful attempts to change negative thinking will likely be unsuccessful.
Thousands of people have successfully used EFT to resolve these disruptions and thus address negative core beliefs, negative self-talk and unproductive thought patterns. Following EFT treatment, it was as if the negative tapes playing in their heads were erased. Their thoughts naturally shifted from negative to positive and affirmations seemed unnecessary.
2. Improve your Physical Well-being
If you have poor nutritional habits, you are putting your body in physical stress and increasing your risk of infection.
The NIH recommends making healthy food choices and eating reasonable amounts of food according to a schedule. However, changing your diet may seem impossible if you are struggling with stress as many people use comfort food to tranquilize stress. I am not aware of anyone who eats large quantities of fruits and vegetables when they are stressed.
EFT is one of the only treatment options available to address the deep issue of emotional overeating. Whether you overeat when you are overwhelmed, to take a break from work, or to give yourself a treat, using EFT enables you to eat for nutrition rather than comfort.
3. Increase Your Physical Activity
The NIH indicates that a lack of physical activity can be stressful for the body, and an increase in physical activity can promote a sense of well-being. The NIH recommends engaging in a scheduled exercise routine at least three times per week. However, that advice takes will power and is not often followed.
You can use EFT to increase your level of motivation to be physically active and to combat the feeling of having to force yourself to exercise. With EFT, you can resolve your negative attitude towards exercise and thereby enhance its stress-fighting qualities.
People who are stressed need to have an outlet for their stress, according to the NIH. People without hobbies, outside interests or means of relaxation may have a more difficult time handling stress. Their recommendation is to take "a mini retreat," find a hobby and make time for yourself to practice relaxation techniques.
However, hundreds of EFT case studies indicate that many people, especially women, have emotional blocks to taking time for themselves to relax. You may feel that you don"t deserve time to yourself. You may also feel guilty, weak or self-indulgent, and put others" needs first. EFT helps you to combat these feelings of negative self-worth, enabling you to take relaxing, guilt-free breaks.
According to a report by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), job stress is more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems. Craig believes that large corporations and small businesses could lower job-related stress and build staff morale by incorporating EFT into their Employee Assistance Programs. Says Craig, "EFT is like emotional first-aid and it should be in every company"s first-aid kit."
Note: Those without an EFT background can receive an orientation by getting the going to my free EFT Manual. Those wishing to save time and dive right in can get the Try It On Everything Book and DVD.
More on EFT
Please note that in addition to enhancing your stress reduction efforts, EFT has been a consistently effective healing tool for hundreds of other physical, mental and emotional ailments.
Please consult qualified health professionals before putting EFT into practice for yourself or others.
Christine Wheeler is an EFT Practitioner and freelance natural health writer. Christine and Dr. Carolyn Dean co-authored IBS for Dummies (Wiley Publishing) where they present EFT as one of the natural treatments options for people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.