Secrets of stress relief
A technique called Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) does just this.
Nick Ortner, the chief executive of The Tapping Solution, a company with a mission to bring natural healing into the mainstream through EFT, or "tapping", says the method can be described as a combination of Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.
"Tap gently on specific points on your face and body while focusing on an issue, such as stress, fear or pain, which you are trying to collapse," he says.
There is a scientific explanation behind its apparent effectiveness. According to Ortner, recent research has found that when we're recalling a stressful situation or having a difficult experience, the amygdala in our brain starts firing. This almond-shaped part of our brain acts like the body's stress response centre; when triggered, it activates a variety of changes in the body, including the release of cortisol and other stress hormones, and results in an increase in blood pressure, reduction in the efficacy of the body's immune system and other physical effects.
"It is believed to be an age-old reaction to danger - the ubiquitous fight-or-flight reaction," Ortner explains. "But in today's world, the amygdala is constantly triggered by daily stressful situations or memories of past events - real or imagined. The amygdala doesn't distinguish between the stress of opening your mail and seeing the bills pile up or a bear chasing you in the forest - it just senses your stress and starts acting up."
Ortner says tapping on the meridian end points while focusing on these experiences sends a calming signal to the amygdala, telling the mind it is safe.
Beryl Comar, an emotional intelligence development specialist and an instructor of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), hypnotherapy and EFT at the Change Associates in Dubai, brought EFT to the Middle East in 2000.
She says that the increase in the number of individuals who come to her in the Middle East has dramatically increased over the years. "People didn't request EFT so it was often an add-on to my NLP and hypnosis work. Now I have clients call and ask specifically for it," says Comar, who has done training in Lebanon, Oman, Doha and Bahrain as well as the UAE.
Ortner believes that EFT can help with many of life's ills, from quitting smoking to enjoying workouts. He says there is a growing body of recognition in the medical field of the effects of stress on our bodies. The American Centers for Disease Control admits that about 85 per cent of diseases have a strong emotional component - it is only logical that reducing stress will in turn reduce the incidence of illnesses.
"This is precisely what tapping does: it reduces stress and trauma and allows the body to do what it does naturally: heal and return to its natural state. The same applies to emotional issues: eliminating the stress attached to a situation takes away the emotional charge and we are able to face the particular situation calmly and with confidence," he explains.
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