It’s 5 AM and the alarm goes off. You roll over and immediately begin to think of your day ahead. A sense of dread fills your stomach as you mentally start to check off everything that didn’t get done yesterday. Forcing yourself to get up, you head for the kitchen where that cup of coffee is waiting, ready to catapult you into the day with that sacred blast of caffeine. Feeling “human” now, you head to the shower, quickly get ready for work and prepare for the next part of your day: the kids.
Getting everyone up, fed, dressed and out the door with lunches, school projects and anything else that happens in between (spilled grape juice, misplaced homework), you watch as they get on the bus, or into the car, sighing deeply as you now turn your attention to getting to the office, that place you strive to be at by 8 AM every morning.
Upon arriving at the office, you grab another cup of coffee while you check your schedule: court appearances at 9:30 and 10, a new client consultation at 11:30, another court appearance at 2, two client meetings at 3:30 and 4:30, and getting a court filing off your desk by the end of the day. You already checked your voicemail in the kitchen while waiting for the caffeine to kick in, and there are 35 new messages since last night at 11:00 pm when you finally put your phone down.
It’s 8:15 AM and you are already feeling anxious and stressed out. With so much to attend to in one day, prioritizing is a must, but it’s hard to focus with so much on your mind, yet you tell yourself this is a typical day and no more stressful than any of the others…You are discouraged and may be asking yourself “ Is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of my career?”
How can you take yourself out of “stress mode” to be able to accomplish what you need to do every day? Wouldn’t you prefer to look forward to the events on your calendar with a sense that you’ll be doing something to help? Is there a better way to start the day?
The simple answer to that is yes! Using EFT, or “tapping”, is one way to quickly relax and re-calibrate your mind and body so that you can feel inspired to do what has to be done to help that difficult client, get that court filing submitted, or write that brief. (These are just a few examples.). Tapping allows you to prioritize the things on your list while eliminating the stress that builds up over time, causing damage to your physical, mental and emotional health and well- being.
What is EFT?
EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) or “tapping” refers to a set of brain-based techniques that relieves stress by tapping on acupressure points located on the head and upper body while focusing on a specific problem. EFT can reduce stress and promote relaxation, creating a positive emotional state for health, well-being and resilience, all of which are vital to a successful thriving law practice.
How does EFT work?
EFT sends calming signals to the amygdala, the part of our brain that governs the “fight, flight or freeze” response which is activated when it perceives a threat to our safety. From an evolutionary point of view, when we were under stress thousands of years ago, the amygdala took over, causing physical changes to prepare us for fighting, running from, or “playing dead” (freezing) to that saber tooth tiger. These physical changes included blood draining from the prefrontal cortex (the thinking part of our brain), being redistributed to the legs and muscles for fleeing the tiger; rapid breathing, sweating and heightened awareness in all of our senses. Our entire being focused on the perceived threat to our safety.
Thankfully, the fight, flight or freeze reaction remains with us to protect us. But there are no more saber tooth tigers out there. In today’s world, our brain cannot tell the difference between that tiger and the file that just got dropped on our desk with a task to be completed by tomorrow, and our six-year-old performing in a school play tonight. In today’s modern scenario, our entire focus is now on having to complete the work on that file in the time we have left while still being able to get to our kid’s school play. Everything else we need to do today fades into the background. Our heart may be pounding, our breathing has quickened, and we are feeling panicked, angry, overwhelmed, sad or any combination of emotions just thinking about that file on our desk while picturing our little one on stage tonight searching in vain for us in the audience.
Research has shown that tapping sends calming signals to the amygdala ( which is on high alert because of that file), helping us to relax. This in turn allows the blood to return to the prefrontal cortex where it is needed so that we can think clearly again. Studies have demonstrated that EFT reduces cortisol, the stress hormone that activates our bodies’ response to threats.1 Further studies have also shown EFT’s effectiveness for reducing physical pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, food cravings, weight loss, phobias and more.2
EFT has gained acceptance for use in schools, prisons, with law enforcement personnel, veterans, addiction programs and others. 3 It is continuing to gain acceptance based on the extensive research that has been and continues to be conducted. 4
How can EFT help lawyers?
The recent survey conducted by Law.com’s Mind over Matters project 5 clearly demonstrates a need in the legal community for resources such as EFT. The survey involved 3800 respondents from law firms in varying sizes from around the globe. Some key findings from the survey:
- 31.2% feel they are depressed
- 64% feel they have anxiety
- 10.1% feel they have a problem with alcohol
- 2.8% responded that they feel they have a drug problem
- 62% of respondents reported knowing a colleague who is depressed
And this one:
- 74% of the respondents reported that their mental health is worse off as a result of having chosen a career in the legal profession.
There is no better time than now to bring EFT to the legal community as a resource, not only for those colleagues who are struggling with stress, feelings of being overwhelmed , burnout and other challenges; but also as an everyday tool to maintain emotional balance, and with that, physical health.
EFT as a self -help tool
So, back to the office… While sitting at your desk at 8:15 you can use EFT in a matter of minutes to find greater calm and ease as you begin your workday. When that file gets dropped on your desk at 2:30 p.m., you can make note of all of the emotions you feel, do some rounds of tapping, relax and get clear, prioritize and get done what needs to get done so that you can see your child up on the stage in the school play. When minor obstacles get thrown your way in any given day, you can use EFT to defuse the negative emotions, and avoid the harmful effects of long-term stress on your health and well-being. EFT does not deny or try to bury negative emotions (and we should never do so), but it does allow us to release them so that we can move through the problem to a achieve a positive outlook and regain focus.
with a Practitioner
For deeper and long-standing issues that are interfering with your practice, working with a certified EFT practitioner can be invaluable, with one caveat. When choosing an EFT practitioner, it is important to note that not all professionals who advertise that they do EFT have been through a rigorous certification program that includes classroom hours, exams, practice ethics, and supervised mentoring.6 Make sure to ask about this when choosing a practitioner.
Sharon Ames is a certified EFT practitioner with EFT International, dedicated to creating happy lawyers through reducing stress, anxiousness and feeling overwhelmed by the demands of practicing law. She works with clients individually or in groups (workshops and presentations), in-person or via Zoom.
Contact Sharon for a free consultation
1. Church, D., Yount, G. & Brooks, A. (2012). The Effect of Emotional Freedom Technique EFT on Stress Biochemistry: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 200(10), 891–896. Click here to view Abstract http://goo.gl/nt3riA
3. Stapleton, Peta. The Science Behind Tapping. Carlsbad: Hay House USA, 2019.
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