WATCH: Try the anxiety-relieving ‘tapping’ technique used by Royals and celebrities
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
Prince Harry recently admitted he does it. Step mother The Duchess of Cornwall learnt it to calm her nerves before a flight. Madonna is a fan. And singer Michael Ball uses the technique before a show to alleviate stage fright.
But what exactly is ‘tapping’? How on earth does it work? And could it really help us unlock anxiety and lead calmer, happier lives?
East Anglian registered hypnotherapist, NLP practitioner and ‘tapping’ (Emotional Freedom Technique) expert Fiona Simpson of Lilac Pearl believes it can. It is one method, she says, that helped her heal after an extremely terrifying time in her life left her broken, feeling like she could barely leave the house.
“When I was still at school (in the mists of time),” Fiona says, “we were coming up to the leaving point where we’d either go into further education or pick a career. I had interviews with a careers advisor who told me I had to be a nurse or a secretary.
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“Some of my friends were going for work experience at BT, but he said ‘no, you can’t do that’. He didn’t' add ‘because you’re a girl’ at the end, but I got the gist.
“The stroppy teen came out in me, and that started a career in IT as a successful security technical designer.
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“But during that time I had a hugely traumatic event in my life. I was powerless. I could feel my self-worth drop, and my confidence was at an all-time low. I didn’t want to go out and I knew I had to do something to help myself.”
Fiona initially saw a hypnotist, who she credits with helping get her life back on track. And this led to a major career shift for the high-flyer who decided to train in hypnotism, NLP and the Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping) in a bid to help others, like her, regain control of their lives too.
“It’s very much problem-centered,” she says. “It’s about taking someone’s emotional grit and turning that into pearls in their life. In some weird way, I look back at that horrible time in my past and what happened to me and think maybe it was a good thing as it got me to where I am today.”
So what is tapping?
“It was developed by Roger Callahan and works through tapping on the Chinese energy meridian system. Later on Gary Craig came along and saw the pattern, and that there were certain points Roger’s technique always tapped on.”
Fiona describes it as a type of acupressure for the emotions.
“We tap on areas where those energy meridians are closest to the surface, sending a kind of shockwave through them.”
Who can benefit from the tapping technique?
Everyone, says Fiona, who laughs, revealing that her teacher in the technique called it ‘toilet tapping’ as it’s something you can do while you’re in the loo. Although she adds we should use tapping at the first sign of emotional distress or anxiety.
Fiona works with both children and adults, from victims of serious crime and young people going through family court, to those with phobias, eating disorders, exam and job interview anxiety, and generalised anxiety. She also spends time with people who’ve been through divorce and break-ups.
“It’s really useful for most people. But the key is the person using it has to know they’re the one who needs to change. If it was just a case of using willpower, they’d already have done that.”
Try this now
Fiona begins with a very quick stress-reliever you can do anywhere and anytime using jujitsu points. Point out the first and middle fingers on one hand (although holding a fake gun) and squeeze those fingers tight.
How to do the tapping method
“We start with a set-up phrase. In this session we’re looking at anxiety. The phrase to say to yourself would be ‘Even though I have this anxiety, I deeply love and accept myself’. From there we repeat the phrase and tap around key points. We finish at the top of the head, then do it again. Then take a deep breath and let that breath out.”
1. Tap the eyebrow
2. Tap the outer edge of your eye
3. Tap under your eye
4. Tap under your nose
5. Tap your chin
6. Tap your collarbone
7. Tap under your arm
8. Tap the top of your head
“This really got me back on an even keel,” Fiona says. “It was hard work but I got myself back together to the point I was able to have a normal life again. I got my sense of power and self-worth back and that’s priceless.”