Final exams stress EFT Tapping for Adult SEL

Final Exams Stress: Tapping into Confidence

WHAT’S UP: In this audio recording with a final-year university student who was experiencing somatic pains related to final exams stress, you get a behind-the-scenes view of how the Emotional Freedom Technique can help with psychologically preparing for final exams. These audio snippets come from an EFT Tapping for Adult SEL Education recording via Zoom. You hear a final-year university student with only two weeks to go for her two final exams happily volunteering to do a demonstration with me to work on her academic confidence. 

Whereas in previous blog posts I’ve shared snippets from recordings of trauma-informed EFT therapy sessions, below is an example of how the Emotional Freedom Technique can be applied in an educational context to teach a group of adult learners how to tap for stress relief. 

HELP WITH FINAL EXAMS STRESS: HOW I STRUCTURED THIS EFT FOR ADULT SEL WORKSHOP

I started the workshop with a tapping ice-breaker to help participants get present and spark their curiosity for the hands-on experiential part of the workshop to come. I then explained how EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) Tapping is an evidence-based stress management approach that (in my personal and professional experience) accelerates Adult Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Education. 

I explained how I have found that when our body is holding onto stress-related tension, our social skills are compromised and our personal/professional relationships can suffer. Because when we are stuck in a chronic state of stress, our cortisol levels go up. When our cortisol levels go up (and stay up) our immune system is compromised, causing us to be sick more often. We also generally feel pain more intensely when our cortisol levels – our stress levels – are chronically elevated. A headache, for example, can turn into a migraine. We can have less patience with people, can be more grumpy or short-tempered, and our responsible decision-making abilities can be compromised.

CASEL definition of SEL core competences
The CASEL definition of Social Emotional Learning Core Competences that I use in my work.

Practicing EFT Tapping can transform stress-related tension, aches, or pains into increasing body awareness, emotional awareness, and social awareness. I then ended the presentation part of my workshop by briefly introducing the group to some of the clinical EFT Tapping studies that prove tapping’s effectiveness for relieving stress-related aches and pains. I also clarified that the definition of Social Emotional Learning competencies I use is the one by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (see below).

In this 5 minute audio snippet below, you hear me finishing teaching the group a mindful Tap and Breath exercise to help ground and start to transition the group into the more hands-on, ‘how to’ part of the workshop. You will notice I then went on to teach them the key psychological component of the Emotional Freedom Technique – the Set Up Statement, which sets up a mindful tapping practice – followed by inviting them to make a note of a stressful situation they would like to work on in the final part of the workshop for their wellbeing. The snippet ends with a member of the group volunteering for me to lead them through a demonstration of how EFT Tapping can be applied to a particular situation, while the other members of the group tap along so they can also get an experience of how to tap and borrow benefits for themselves.

As with all my repurposed recorded group tapping and private EFT therapy content, this adult gave informed consent for me to re-purpose the recording for educational purposes here on my website. This 90-minute EFT for Adult SEL Workshop occurred on Zoom with cameras turned on for participants who wanted to turn their camera on. 

To protect participants’ privacy, you’ll notice that 4 minutes into this repurposed recording, I have replaced the video recording with educational slides for the purpose of this blog post. Also, I’ve also made pauses between speakers and explanations shorter while editing as way of respect viewers’/listeners’ time.

FINAL EXAMS STRESS: DEMO OF HOW EFT TAPPING CAN HELP A STUDENT PSYCHOLOGICALLY PREPARE FOR EXAMS

In this second snippet from the workshop, you hear us doing two rounds of tapping on this university student’s physical stress response to just thinking about her final exams. Since this was a public group EFT Tapping setting, we focused on identifying the specific physical sensations that were associated with this student’s stress response. This is a more discrete ‘way in’ to introduce a group to the Emotional Freedom Technique as it does not require them to talk about their specific emotions or thoughts.

For EFT Tapping to work, we have to get really specific about a distressing aspect, and so that is what we did. In this case, the distressing physical sensations behind the stress (7/10) that came up for this university student when she thought about her final exams were in her chest (a 6/10 “red hot” kind of tension in the chest). At this stage of the tapping demonstration, we focused on acknowledging the distressing feelings and sensations that were coming up for her with compassion. You will notice that after the first round of tapping, her stress about her final exams dropped to a 4.5/10, and the distressing physical sensations shifted to a 5/10 “lighter red” tension in the chest. 

After a second round of tapping, her stress response to thinking about the exams dropped further to a 3/10, and the tension in her chest to a 1.5/10! So I then asked her and the group if they would like me to show them how Dr. Patricia Carrington’s Choices Technique could be applied in such situations where the distress levels of one or more aspects had dropped to a 3/10 or less. Everyone was okay with that, and so we moved on to the final part of this Emotional Freedom Technique demonstration for this workshop (see below). 

THE CHOICES TECHNIQUE: FEELING CONFIDENT ABOUT EXAMS

In this final stage of this EFT Tapping demonstration, with the student resourced and able to choose what changes she wants moving forward, you hear me leading her and the group through a Choices Technique tapping sequence. Notice how as the student’s stress response continues to calm down, the stress that started in her chest shifts to her legs and feet? And when the stress at the thought of the exams seems to drop down to a 0/10, the student experiences what’s in EFT we call a Client Cognitive Reframe. Meaning she independently thinks about the situation differently – without needing a therapist to tell her how she ‘should think’, for her. 

As you hear me explaining at the end, sometimes the intensity of someone’s stress response can continue to go down after a session, without needing more tapping for it to go down. In this case, because my willing volunteer had a bit of doubt that it could have possibly gone down to a 0/10 so quickly, I suggested she double-check if it still feels like a 0/10 in 24 hours, and if not to do some independent tapping with a self-help guide I provided to revisit that calm confidence. 

It ends up she didn’t actually need to tap anymore on it – in fact when I followed up four months later, she had almost forgotten about this final exam stress and moved on with her life! As world-renowned Clinical Psychologist Dr Peta Stapleton points out in her TEDTalk, the benefits of doing EFT Tapping can go beyond simply people being able to enjoy getting results quicker. They may also be more long-lasting than when students just talk about a problem that is causing them distress.

I think it’s fair to say that we are living in exciting times for the future of human psychology, education, and wellbeing! The question now is what will it take for more university programs for student wellbeing to catch up to the growing body of science and practice on what works?

SIDE NOTE: PLACING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE

I’d like to highlight the fact that, as you heard, there were no traumatic memories from past exam experiences this student needed to process before she could feel more confident about her final exams. If there were, that would not have been suitable to go there in an educational EFT for Adult SEL workshop like this. It would have required private therapy sessions, and would of course require much more work and time to process safely than what you witnessed here.

Also, while these demonstrations where someone’s stress can go down so quickly after just a few rounds of tapping do sometimes happen in Group EFT Tapping settings (once in a blue moon), this by no means is to say that all Group EFT Tapping sessions are like this. This just happens to have been one of those amazing, extraordinarily rare occasions when a few rounds of tapping happened to have been enough to safely process a student’s final exams stress.

I hope you found this blog article helpful for getting a better idea of how an educational group tapping workshop differs from private EFT therapy sessions. Neither is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ – they are simply different applications of the Emotional Freedom Technique for different professional contexts and needs. 

If you’d like to understand what applying EFT Tapping for clearing past traumatic exam prep experiences through EFT therapy sessions may be like, you can check out another article I wrote called “Tapping Away Exam Stress and Procrastination”.

I’ve also written an article for anyone who is not familiar with the traumatic stress spectrum that you may also find useful. It’s called “Traumatic Stress, Posttraumatic Stress, and PTSD”.

Finally, as you can witness here, it is possible to help a student transform their unhelpful levels of final exams stress into helpful academic confidence…WITHOUT having to talk much about their emotions! This is a valuable way of applying the Emotional Freedom Technique for educational purposes; emotions can be processed in terms of their somatic manifestations (e.g. ‘chest tension’ vs ‘I feel anxiety / fear / panic / worry in my chest’) and thus protect someone’s privacy.

If you’d like to learn more about a way in which this principle of just tapping on the somatic component of the emotional (di)stress to bring relief can be applied in a private therapeutic setting, check out “Panic Attacks in Tests and Exams (Grade 7)”. This is a powerful example of how somatic-based EFT therapy may be a more accessible ‘way in’ to talking about emotions, particularly for students who have been shamed for expressing certain emotions in class; processing that old shame can free them up to enjoy developing their emotional intelligence!

Know a UNI/College student who wants relief from final exam stress?

If they want to feel better and more confident as they psychologically prepare for their final exams, you may wanna pass this on. 

About the EFT PRACTITIONER

Eleni Vardaki, private support with stress or anxiety

Eleni Vardaki works online supporting student, parent and teacher well-being. Her mission is to help bridge the gap between mainstream education and the well-being skills we need to thrive. A UK-qualified teacher and accredited EFT Practitioner, she offers one-to-one EFT therapy sessions and educational classes for stress, anxiety and academic achievement.