Stress and anxiety both have a way of piling up — and piling up fast. Therapist Micheline Maalouf, LMHC, NCC, uses her platform on TikTok (that has amassed over 700K followers) to give tangible tips for combating adverse effects to our mental health. One key way to help with anxiety and stress is a technique called “butterfly tapping,” or “butterfly hug,” that Maalouf demonstrates in the video above.
Basically, you place your hands, palms down, on your chest, interlocking your thumbs in a shape that resembles a butterfly. Then, you slowly tap one hand after the other near your shoulders (Maalouf followed up on Twitter to say that she’s tapping too quickly in the video because her hands “kept up” with her words). Keep your pace slow.
“It’s a bilateral stimulation technique [aka, alternating stimulation on both sides of the body] that helps us ground ourselves when we’re feeling anxious or panicky, or just need to calm down our bodies a little bit,” Maalouf explains in the video. She adds that it helps by activating our parasympathetic nervous system, which enacts digestion and slows down your heart rate, among other functions.
Maalouf further clarified in the TikTok comments that the technique itself comes from Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) typically used for treating trauma and that though she is not formally trained in EMDR, she’s had it done herself and butterfly tapping is soothing for her. She also said in the comments that if this technique does not work for you, you can try simply giving yourself a hug.
While we know that techniques like this aren’t a cure-all, the hope is that you can use it as a tool to cope with anxiety you may be experiencing today, next week, even months and years from now. Take a moment to test it out.