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Your Hidden Stress From World Events

Have you been feeling on edge for a while or experiencing insomnia, and you’re not sure why? You might not be recognising your hidden stress from world events such as the COVID pandemic. Or trauma you’ve picked up from seeing or hearing about wars at world or local level. Or worries about your children’s future with climate change. Over the last three years or so we have all faced a sea of challenging mass events. These can all make us feel unsafe and vulnerable, even if we don’t notice it or obviously feel it. And the impacts last until we can find a way to release them.

Hidden Stress and Community Trauma

Your nervous system is designed to respond to threats to your wellbeing and your life. It kicks in the stress response to get you out of there or stand and fight. Your heart rate goes up, breathing quickens, muscles tense, you might sweat. But you can get this reaction if you tune into and identify with someone else’s experience. That is called vicarious trauma.

You experience their stress response, for example, as you see media footage or photographs, or even a war memorial mural. You might wonder how those people felt, how their parents felt, etc, and that makes you feel uneasy or even scared. You might or might not notice your reaction at the time. And later on you might wonder why you have an unsettled or anxious feeling, but you don’t relate it to what you saw or heard. It’s reflecting your primal fear of being unsafe that was triggered by what you saw or heard but consciously forgot.

How Do You React?

Here’s my experience of coming to recognise my hidden stress from a community trauma that I wasn’t even directly involved with. As you read this, you could reflect on how you responded. Or perhaps pick up on your reaction to some of the photos I’ve included in this article – are you neutral, or do they trigger you? This can help you become more aware of how you react to the world around you and where you might be picking up extra stress.

An Example With 9/11

The year 2021 marked the 20th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. My main memory was the TV image of the planes flying into the towers. Back in 2001 I hadn’t yet come across tapping – unfortunately! But I’d done a lot of self-care tapping in the 5 years before the anniversary, including a focus on clearing major personal traumas. I never thought there were any negative impacts on me from outside events. Until…

During an EFT Workshop we needed to a topic to practice the gentle Tearless Trauma Tapping Technique. I was struggling to come up with something! As I read the manual for inspiration, I noticed a mention of 9/11 as an example of a community trauma.

So I chose to tap on that because I had those TV images in my mind, albeit without any emotional intensity attached. I was therefore very surprised at the intensity of emotion that came up once we started tapping. But it subsided well with the tapping.

Uncovering More To Get Free

At home in the next week, I did more self-care tapping about 9/11 because another image came to mind. I remembered standing outside my son’s jun,ior school classroom that September morning. It was before many people in Australia had heard the news from the US. Other parents were talking quietly to each other outside the class. One told me what they’d just heard on the morning news.

So as I remembered this, I tapped using our Tell The Story technique. We tap down the intensity of each emotional crescendo of the past experience until all pent up emotion is released. I stepped into the memory in my mind’s eye: Even though standing here I feel unsettled in my body, it sounds as if something really bad has happened…”

Feeling It Still In The Body

As the “unsettled” intensity reduced, my mind took me back to before I arrived at the classroom. I had a strong memory of being at the school gate. My body still remembered sensing that something did not feel right. The unresolved emotion still in my body – now 20 years later – was a 7 out of 10 intensity (10 being maximum intensity). So first I tapped on: Even though something just doesn’t feel right here…

Then up came an awareness that I was tuning into the panic of other adults around me – the community level trauma. They seemed unusually quiet, as if trying to hide their emotions from the children. As I sat here in my loungeroom all this time later with this image in mind, I still felt uneasy that I didn’t know what was going on and I felt deeply unsafe at a 10/10 intensity, so I tapped: Even though I feel unsafe because all the adults seem to be panicking… Unsafe, unsafe…

The Primal Fear of Being Unsafe

When this primal fear of being unsafe subsided to a 5 intensity, a different aspect came up: “If all the adults feel unsafe, I’m scared no-one’s going to protect me!” and “I’m really scared I can’t protect my kids, what if there’s an attack here next!” (Remembering of course, that at that point we had no idea it was only happening in the US). I tapped through these emotions and strong images until they faded in my mind’s eye.

As we like to be thorough in Tapping, I walked myself through the memories again several times until seeing the first TV reports. I tapped all the emotional intensities down to zero and they felt “cleared”. Now everything felt just like unemotional facts.

Since that tapping in 2021, I’ve wondered how unknowingly carrying that unresolved stress had influenced my behaviour. For a long time I had unexplained deep fears for my children’s safety. Whilst I had tapped and cleared obvious experiences that could have made me feel that, I’m convinced that the 9/11 trauma I’d picked up was a hidden contributing experience.

EFT Tapping is a Somatic Trauma Therapy

This is how EFT Tapping can thoroughly free us from past trauma. It is a somatic therapy which releases trapped emotion at the root cause level. Trauma experts such as Bessel van der Kolk tell us that trauma sits constantly trapped in our body in real time at a biochemical level until we tune into and release it (see reference at end of article). As it sits there waiting to get triggered, it might show up as pain or vague ailments. So you can still feel anxious about your safety even when there’s nothing logical or obvious to feel anxious about in the present day. Hidden Stress from World Events can make you on edge or tense in your body

Releasing Stress From Other Events

It was really useful to discover those hidden impacts on me of 9/11, because the same thing has happened twice since. Firstly, one Christmas I felt increasingly unsettled and I didn’t know why. I happened across an online free tapping workshop to offer group support for the Australian bushfires. We’d had fires around the country from about November, including some quite close to us. So I tapped along out of interest.

I was extremely surprised after only one round of tapping to burst into tears. I realised the TV images of the fires, and the smoke smell drifting our way, had slowly raised my tension levels without me noticing. After tapping about my fears, my overall tension disappeared.

Hidden Stress From Covid

Similarly, in mid 2021 I thought I was feeling ok about Covid because we had been extremely lucky here in South Australia not to be badly affected. And as an HSP (highly sensitive person) I’d intentionally avoided much of the news. Then came the big push for vaccination and everyone was talking about it. There was mass confusion and some fear. I noticed just after that that I really wasn’t sleeping well. My mind just couldn’t switch off.

“Stressed women don’t need more sleep, they need to offload their stress” (Lareen Newman)

Luckily my tapping about 9/11 and the bushfires came to mind. I thought “Hmm, is there something big that’s been happening that could be affecting me? What about COVID?!”. So I started tapping to sneak up on it and see: Even though I’m feeling on edge, and I wonder if it’s about COVID, I deeply and completely accept myself.… The tapping uncovered that I had unrecognised fear about various aspects of the pandemic. And a lot of sorrow for all the people who’d lost a loved one. Just a few minutes of tapping brought a release of tears and calmness. After that I was sleeping deeply again!

Sadness About Afghanistan & Ukraine

Soon after, a client came feeling agitated. After some initial Tap & Talk rounds, she realised she’d been responding unknowingly to the news about troubles in Afghanistan. And maybe you are still carrying feelings about this or what has happened in Ukraine – perhaps sadness for the people, a sense of unsafety in the world, other fears about the war, or scenes you witnessed in the media.

So I would strongly recommend when “big things” are happening or have happened, even if you feel they aren’t immediately affecting you or your family, it could still be well worth tapping. And if you’re a highly sensitive person (HSP) and more tuned into how other people feel, then I would definitely recommend tapping. We often start generally with something like “Even though I feel on edge…” or “Even though I don’t feel quite right”. Then the tapping brings up the hidden stresses. However, if you feel that there might be a trauma or significant impact underlying your feeling, please do get in touch and let’s release it safely together.

Health Benefits

A broader benefit of tapping – particularly with a practitioner such as myself who can do evidence-based clinical EFT – is that we can be thorough so you get truly free. In the face of troubling world events, the tapping reduces and releases the negative emotions you’ve been unable to release from your body.

Tapping therefore increases your heart’s coherence, reduces the stress hormones circulating in your body, reduces your blood pressure, dials down the genes responsible for inflammation, and allows your whole system to calm down (see links at end).

You find you can think more clearly and you feel lighter. Often you can also sleep better again now your nervous system feels safe to relax at night.

Expanding Community Peace

As you move yourself with personal growth work towards more serenity, you are also strengthening the collective field for others to join you as your naturally more peaceful energy can now bubble up. This is one way you can help spread more peace in your community and the world. Doing so can also reduce any feelings of powerlessness you might have in the face of mass negativity and trauma.

With EFT Tapping, we often focus our work on reducing or clearing the emotional intensity of specific events that directly and obviously happened to us. However, my tapping experiences show there is also value in tapping to acknowledge and address how we might be feeling about the news we’re hearing and seeing, and broader community experiences such as COVID or natural disasters. As we do this, it puts us in a better position to then support our family, friends, work colleagues and others who may also be experiencing these kinds of hidden stress from world events.

Happy Tapping!

Lareen Newman is a Women’s Coach for Stress Release and Emotional Therapy. She writes about her work and life experiences and those of her client group around emotional wellbeing and improved personal growth. At Tapping Into Serenity, Lareen helps professional women who are struggling with stress or burnout to better understand their stress, negative emotions and unhelpful self-talk and offload them through EFT Tapping so they can re-energise and open to more joy! Check out Lareen’s homepage for more information or to book a Clarity Call or Private Session. Or go there to sign up to her mailing list for notice of future blog articles, news and special events.



Trauma, Trust and Triumph: How to Recover from Our Deepest Pain – Bessel Van Der Kolk in The Guardian 

Why stressed women don’t need more sleep by Lareen Newman

Maharaj, M. E. (2016). Differential gene expression after Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) treatment: A novel pilot protocol for salivary mRNA assessment. Energy Psychology: Theory, Research, and Treatment, 8(1), 17–32. doi:10.9769/EPJ.2016.8.1.MM

Bach D, Groesbeck G, Stapleton P, Sims R, Blickheuser K, Church D. Clinical EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Improves Multiple Physiological Markers of Health. Journal of Evidence Based Integrative Medicine. 2019 Jan-Dec;24:2515690X18823691. doi: 10.1177/2515690X18823691. PMID: 30777453; PMCID: PMC6381429.


Photo credits – thank you to:

Article header pic: @pixel7propix on; Red chaos: Hasan Almasi on; Free in the Mountains: Becca Tapert on; Peaceful Valley by Mamu Srizon on


This original version of this article was written for and published by the world’s leading non-profit EFT tapping professional association – EFT International – with whom Lareen is certified as an Advanced Practitioner of EFT Tapping.

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