When we experience a real or perceived threat our body goes into fight or flight mode. Adrenalin, cortisol and other stress hormones are released, blood rushes to the extremities (we can ran fast but not think clearly or digest food anymore!), the heart is racing, breathing becomes shallow and rapid, blood pressure goes up, muscles tighten, we may start sweating.
This is a perfectly normal and healthy reaction of our nervous systems; in a situation where we are in a burning building we do need to react quickly and run fast! There's also the idea of "good stress"; i.e. before an athlete runs a race, they wouldn't want to be chilled and laid back but ready to run and fight!
However, often our stress response is not triggered by real threats but by our own thoughts and fears. And as we know, when the mind is churning out worried thoughts, it's difficult to sleep, relax and come up with a sensible solution. That in itself increases the perceived threat and therefore the stress response, a vicious circle.
While it is perfectly healthy, vital for survival to react with a stress response to real threats, staying most of the time in a heightened stress response is very unhealthy. We know that heightened levels of cortisol lead to inflammation in the body and a lowered immune system, which in turn may lead to a myriad of health problems.
Some people have other symptoms too. ‘Tics’, such as hair pulling (trichotillomania), biting nails etc. These tics are anxiety/stress related and sometimes a way of self-soothing. Another perhaps surprising symptom of stress can be cravings. Yummy foods (often sugar) give us a dopamine release, make us feel good, so that's something we tend to crave when we feel down or stressed.
I know how effective tapping can be at helping with a lot of these tics or symptoms. I My "tic" fell away by itself after 50 plus years when I started continuous finger tapping. (You can find out more about this by clicking here )
And it’s also a very effective tool for managing cravings. You can do it anywhere that your hands are free - e.g. while watching telly, sitting on the bus or tube or while out walking. There's a technique to it though, and specific points, so I’d suggest you start with the video above.
Tapping sends signals to the stress centre of the brain (the amygdala) telling it to calm down, everything is fine, effectively countering the stress response. Research found that after a tapping session, cortisol levels in the blood are lowered, blood pressure is lowered, heart rate is balanced, breathing deeper and more even. These are the physical changes making the body calmer and more relaxed, and when the body feels calmer, the mind becomes calmer as well and triggers become less worrying.