Stress and Cortisol
You’re not likely to meet a tiger on the school run, but your brain doesn’t know that! Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and in this article I’m going to explain the connection between EFT, stress and cortisol levels.
The amygdala is a section of the brain that is responsible for our survival by detecting fear and preparing for emergencies in order to keep us safe. When it detects is fear, the amygdala releases stress hormones including cortisol so that we can fight or flight. This mechanism kept cave men and women safe from wild animals and other dangers. Nowadays, we are much safer in our daily lives so it is not necessary for us to be on high alert the whole time but the truth is, this is the way most of us live our lives. There are 2 types of threat – actual threat eg, dodging a car that didn’t stop when crossing the road, and perceived threat eg mums worry about their child waking up in the night/ not eating enough/ walking down the road by themselves/ they will be bullied or won’t do well in their exams etc!
Many of us have these (or other) worries spinning round in our head day in, day out, sending stress signals to the brain to release fight or flight hormones continually. When the amygdala is continuously stimulated, the energy goes there instead of to the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for reasoning and creative problem solving. So its important that we are able to calm the amygdala. Negative thoughts such as
- “I’m running late to pick up my child from school”,
- “I feel so helpless seeing my child struggle with friendships”,
- “what did I do so wrong that my children are so rude to me”
contribute to stimulating the amygdala to release stress hormones.
How does EFT help then?
In a recent study on the effects of EFT on cortisol 3 groups of people had an hour of talk therapy or EFT or had nothing. Researchers were surprised to see that there was a 24% decrease in cortisol in the EFT group whereas in the other 2 groups there was no change. Raised cortisol levels causes amongst other things, the shutting down the creative centre in our brain since it recognises that survival is more important than creativity. It also increases irritability, difficulty sleeping, feelings of overwhelm, stress, depletion and it also holds onto fat!
So no wonder so many of us are frazzled most of the time!
Having said that, you do not need to know how EFT works in order for it to work for you, however understanding some basics can really help motivate you to give EFT the chance to prove itself to you. After all, if this is the first time you are coming across it, you are likely to be sceptical.
Where do the meridians fit into all of this?
The way that the founder of EFT, Gary Craig, describes how EFT works is that all “All negative emotions are caused by disturbances in the body’s energy field”. He basis his understanding on the Traditional Chinese Medicine system that states that the body contains energy lines known as meridians. He says that when you feel a negative emotion such as anxiety or stress, the body’s meridians become blocked, a bit like a hose becoming kinked, and this blocks the flow of energy to parts of the body. By tapping on specific acupuncture points, whilst are deliberately focusing on the negative memory you straighten the hose or meridian line and then the energy flows again. From an experiential perspective, as this is happening, upsetting emotions begin to dissolve.