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How to Reduce Cortisol Levels with EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques)

Photo by Julia Koblitz on Unsplash

Cortisol has often been referred to as the primary stress hormone and it plays a crucial role in our body’s response to ongoing stress. While absolutely essential for our survival, chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to a wide variety of health issues, including anxiety, depression, weight gain, and sleep disturbances. Fortunately, there are effective methods to help manage cortisol levels, one of which is EFT Tapping, aka the Emotional Freedom Techniques. EFT is a powerful tool that combines elements of somatic awareness, manual stimulation of acupressure points with emotional regulation to alleviate stress and promote emotional well-being. 

Understanding Cortisol and its Impact

Before delving into how EFT can help reduce cortisol levels, let’s first understand its role in the body. Produced by the adrenal glands, cortisol is released in response to stress, whether physical, emotional, or psychological. While short bursts of cortisol can be beneficial in certain situations, prolonged stress can lead to chronically elevated levels, which can wreak havoc on our health.

High cortisol levels are associated with a range of health problems, including:

  • Anxiety and Depression: Excess cortisol can disrupt neurotransmitter function in the brain, contributing to mood disorders.
  • Weight Gain: Cortisol influences appetite and can lead to increased cravings for sugary and fatty foods, contributing to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen.
  • Sleep Disturbances: Elevated cortisol levels can interfere with the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia or poor sleep quality.
  • Weakened Immune Function: Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels suppress the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections and illnesses.

Given these potential consequences, finding effective strategies to manage cortisol levels is essential for overall health and well-being.

Introducing EFT: A Holistic Approach to Stress Management

The Emotional Freedom Techniques are a collection of simple yet powerful techniques that involve tapping on specific acupressure points on the face and upper body while focusing on a particular issue, such as stress, anxiety, or pain. This tapping sequence helps to balance the body’s energy system and alleviate negative emotions associated with the problem at hand.

Here’s how to practice EFT to reduce cortisol levels:

  1. Identify the Stressor: Begin by identifying the specific stressor or issue that is causing elevated cortisol levels. It could be a work deadline, relationship conflict, or financial worries. An important tip to be more effective is to choose a single example of a stressful situation whether you are recalling a memory of a stressful experience or thinking about some circumstance that is coming up in your future that makes you feel stressed. Do your best to name the emotion you are experiencing about it, weather it be stressed, frustrated, annoyed, anxious, etc.
  2. Become Aware of any Associated Body Sensation: Take a moment to tune into your body and notice if and where you might be experiencing that emotional response to the situation.
  3. Rate the Intensity: On a scale of 0 to 10, rate the current intensity of your emotional distress or physical symptoms associated with the stressor.
  4. The Setup with Affirmation: Start by tapping on the side of the hand point (the fleshy part of the outer hand) while repeating a setup statement that acknowledges the issue and affirms self-acceptance. For example, “Even though I feel stressed in my gut thinking about [the specific situation], I accept that I feel this way (or traditionally, if it feels congruent for you)…I deeply and completely accept myself.”
  5. The Tapping Sequence: Proceed to tap on specific acupressure points while repeating short phrases that acknowledge the problem. The tapping points include the top of the head, the beginning of eyebrow point, the side of the eye point, under the eye, under the nose, below the lip on the chin point, the beginning of the collarbone points, and under the arm.
  6. Reassess: After a round of tapping, reassess the intensity of your emotional distress or physical symptoms. Notice any changes in how you feel.
  7. Repeat as Needed: If the intensity has not decreased to an acceptable level, repeat the tapping sequence, focusing on any remaining emotional distress or physical discomfort. Know that sometimes the stress will be reduced after a single round and other times it takes longer as the stressor may be more complex and be inter-related to multiple areas of your life that are stressful that require more time and their own tapping focus.

The Science Behind EFT and Cortisol Reduction

While the mechanism by which EFT works is not yet fully understood, emerging research suggests that it may help regulate cortisol levels to reduce stress. Studies have shown that EFT can lead to significant decreases in cortisol levels, as well as improvements in mood, anxiety, and other symptoms of stress-related disorders.

One study published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease found that participants who received EFT treatment experienced a significant decrease in cortisol levels compared to those in the control group.

In 2020 the study Reexamining the Effect of Emotional Freedom Techniques on Stress Biochemistry: A Randomized Controlled Trial published in Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy found EFT in this study to have an average 43% reduction in cortisol levels.

Another study in 2020, EFT as an intervention tool in dealing with stress among mothers of the children with intellectual disability published by the UGC Care Journal revealed: The result of the study revealed that EFT is effective in reducing stress.The overall result shows that EFT is an effective way of dealing with stress among mothers of Children with Intellectual Disability.

Similarly, a review published in Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing concluded that EFT is effective in reducing cortisol levels and alleviating symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression.

Incorporating EFT into Your Daily Routine

To reap the benefits of EFT for cortisol reduction, consider incorporating it into your daily routine as a proactive measure for stress management. Whether you’re facing a specific stressor or simply want to maintain emotional balance, regular practice of EFT can help keep cortisol levels in check and promote overall well-being.

Remember, while EFT can be a powerful self-help tool, it’s essential to seek professional guidance if you’re dealing with severe or persistent stress-related symptoms. A qualified EFT practitioner can provide personalized guidance and support to address your individual needs. Sometimes stress levels are connected to deeper psychological and traumatic roots which may require the help of an EFT trained and licensed mental health care professional.

In conclusion, EFT offers a holistic approach to reducing cortisol levels and managing stress, allowing you to cultivate greater emotional resilience and well-being in your daily life. By tapping into the body’s natural energy system, EFT empowers you to take control of your stress response and embrace a healthier, more balanced way of living.