In my last post “What to eat when Panic Attacks “ I explained how Chinese Medicine uses the bitter flavour of food to calm and support the heart when you are feeling anxiety and panic. This kind of attack is usually driven by anticipatory stress, running around too busy juggling too many things. However, more and more I see in my practice how burn out and exhaustion are causing these same symptoms and playing havoc with peoples bodies and minds.
The heart with its racing palpitations and chest tightening panic can be a symptom of the over exertion of the nervous system and the depletion of Kidney energy. Just like a car that over revs the engine, the adrenal glands that sit just above the kidneys, pump hormones like cortisol and adrenaline into the body causing your heart to beat faster, elevating your blood pressure, increases blood sugar and draws energy supplies from the body that are needed for digestion and repair. When the body is already exhausted and you are already running on empty this can cause symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
But how did we get here and what can we do?
One hundred years ago, the lives of most people were deeply structured, we had a clear sense of identity, sets of societal and religious rules to live by. We knew where we belonged because religion and society rarely allowed personal freedom. How we lived and how we died was set when, and whom we were born to.
However, now more than ever we have a choice about our lives. As a woman living in Europe, I can chose which country I live in, I can chose my gender, my government, my job – everything I identify as, I have a choice about. Compared to 100 years ago where people, especially women had far fewer choices. Marriage, children, employment, social class; one’s life path had far less variety of choice.
Unfortunately there are still places in the world that don’t allow that freedom of choice for human beings. I call out Iran and their killing of #Mahsa_Amini
Let us all stand together in connected peaceful protest so that all human beings have the freedom to express themselves.
Freedom of Choice is something humans need for growth and evolution.
But as we see in Iran, emotional growth can often stir up fear and resistance in people who would like to stick with the “normal” because with freedom of choices can come great responsibility.
With choices comes a great feeling of responsibility and questions such as: am I getting it right? is there something better? would I be happier somewhere else, with someone else? With freedom of choice can come self doubt and the pressure to get it right, to have it all leads us to over work, over thinking, over-achieving, over doing and and eventually burn out.
I wouldn’t go back 100 years, I love the personal choice and the personal freedom. As a single mum of 3 boys, I have never wanted to marry. I own my own house and run my own business but I am very aware of the pressure that comes with this personal freedom – awareness is the first step to making change and being well …… Let me share
I used to suffer from Panic Attacks but I kept it quiet.
I felt a failure because I couldn’t cope. I could hardly stand in a queue in the supermarket without feeling the rising fear of panic and adrenaline rush up my spine.
The terror as I gritted my teeth and forced myself not to let the emotions take over. I told myself over and over, I wasn’t going to collapse as my head span and cold sweat covered my body. it was emotionally and physically draining.
It all began when my twin boys were 3 and my youngest was 3 months old. I was a 42-year-old, single mum who had just lost a partner and her business. I was driving back on the motorway from a kids party an hour from my house. In the fast lane overtaking, with the three kids in the car, the world began to spin and my vision went black. I don’t know how I managed to carry on driving but on a Sunday afternoon the road wasn’t busy and I made it over to the hard shoulder. I sat in the car trying to breathe, trying to calm myself. The kids were fast asleep and strapped in and that helped. When I managed to calm my breath, the trembling and the tears began. I felt so alone, I felt I had no one to call to come and help me, support me, drive me home, so I sat on the hard shoulder sobbing. Then, driving at a snail’s pace, I drove myself home.
I realised through my knowledge and application of Traditional Chinese Medicine what had happened. I was exhausted, my nervous system was completely overworked and stretched tight to a frazzled snapping point. I had grown 3 children inside me in the space of 3 years and I was approaching 42, which if you read the previous post, is a potent time for a shift in hormones. This all relates to the kidneys in Chinese Medicine and so I began to make changes in my life.
I used foods that support the Kidney & Bladder which are salty in flavour and blue/black in colour such as seaweeds and adzuki beans.
I avoided the Kidney draining foods such as coffee that I was overusing to get me through the long days and crying baby nights and made the kidney strengthening Barley water instead.
I also used acupressure potent points and simple Qi Gong exercises for calming a panic attack. It took me a good few years to calm my nervous system but using Chinese Medicine I understood what my body was saying to me before it needed to shout it loud with a panic attack. Im 54 years old now – sailing through my menopause WITHOUT hot flushes, sleepless nights or any more panic attacks – it is possible and I can help you make that change.
If you would like to learn to listen to your body you can buy the easy to use cookbooks or watch the 1-minute video and learn a potent acupressure point that reduces chest tightness, panic, anxiety, shortness of breath.
For the month of October we will be focusing on Reducing Anxiety with Qi Gong, Food Medicine and Acupressure points – why not join us for the free class
In my last post, I shared an Acupressure Point that I found personally useful during panic attacks, palpitations and shortness of breath that I suffered just after I had twins, 19 years ago. Even though they are teenagers and way more stressful now, I have learned and used many different tools to balance my body so that the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline don’t flood my body and fry my mind.
I’m grateful for the Shiatsu acupressure and Qi Gong work I do, which uses the 5element system of Traditional Chinese Medicine to interpret symptoms and treat the body using acupressure points, meridian stretches and dietary advice.
I love having a toolkit of different techniques with which to balance the body. Below I share a simple recipe that helps to calm the mind and bring the heart home, aiding sleep and relaxation.
During the 1990s when I ran an environmental awareness and coaching agency I thought I had to think of everything. I felt that if I wasn’t on top of all my work, it would fall apart. My mind often wouldn’t let me sleep. It wouldn’t turn off. Instead of sleeping, I would run through future scenarios and presentations. Irrationally my mind thought it could control outcomes. If I could only think of everything, especially in the middle of the night, then everything would be ok. It was exhausting, physically and mentally.
It was at this time I was embarking on my Shiatsu journey when my teacher introduced me to the power of lettuce as a natural sedative, it really worked. I would drink the tea in the early evening and I would find that my sleep was better. If I woke in the night I would take a shot of pre-prepared Lettuce Juice in the fridge and I’d go straight back to sleep.
From a Chinese Medicine perspective, each of the organs has a flavour. Lettuce of all varieties including Chicory and Endive pictured here, has a bitter flavour and so benefits the heart.
The heart is said to be where our Shen, our consciousness, our spirit lives. so eating foods with this bitter flavour such as basil, coriander, radish, beetroot, chicory, endive, and pomegranate will help heart function and provide a home in which the Shen spirit can settle. This will help with insomnia, heart palpitations, anxiety, overthinking and restlessness of the mind. For more foods check out previous Heart Health post
It all sounds very poetic but believe me it works.
Recipe from the Holistic Cookbook – Good Food: Better Sex
Lettuce Tea Tonic – pg 235
Lettuce contains a chemical called lactucarium which is the white milky substance you see when you break the leaf along the stem. As opposed to opioids this substance has no harmful side effects. Try and see for yourself.
Take 5-6 leaves of romaine or butterhead lettuce and place into a saucepan. Pour a litre of boiling water over the leaves of a head of Romaine or Butterhead lettuce, simmer in a pan with the lid on at a low temperature for 5 minutes, strain and drink.
It’s a very refreshing tasting tea tasting similar to chamomile. But it is more potent at being able to physically relax the body, relieving fullness in the chest and tightness in the mind. This is great to drink in the early evening as it is a great support for sleep and stopping insomnia, which in Chinese Medicine would be caused by the heart not being able to settle.
Chinese Medicine is over 4000 years old and the 5elements give a system where you can understand your symptoms and the cause of them. If you would like to find out more you can read all about the system in Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking or Good Food: Better Sex. This lists all the five elements, their flavours, times of the year, emotions, ailments and offers recipes plus acupressure points to transform them. It’s packed full of Food Medicine, Acupressure Points and Energy Exercises
Or why not try a free class with me – enter your email below and I will send you a link for the zoom class which takes place on the last day of each month.
Late summer is a time to support your spleen and stomach with seasonal, ripe fruits and slowly cooked root vegetables. If we don’t, we can experience worry, overthinking, joint pain, abdominal swelling, hernias, varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
The Spleen in TCM is all about feeling comforted and supported. If the spleen is weak you will find many prolapse symptoms in the body.
The organ is linked to the Earth Element and Sweet Flavoured foods – so come and watch what foods to eat, which points to press and even practice a Bear Qi Gong move in the video below.
In my last post I shared Spleen 6 Acupressure point – here is Spleen 9 – Yin Mound Spring
Spleen 9 (SP 9) is a powerful point. Its main function in Chinese medicine is to resolve “dampness”.
To find the point put a finger at the inside of your ankle bone and trace it all the way up the midline of the inside of the leg until you meet resistance. Right below the inside of the knee, in that little depression is Spleen 9 and it is typically a bit tender when pressure is applied. The Spleen is associated with the flesh of the body so make sure you are on the fleshy part under and slightly behind the tibia, not on the bone itself.
Dampness is not a normal diagnostic term used in western medicine, but it is actually quite simple to understand.
When the Spleen and the Stomach channels are working together digestion runs smoothly, water and nutrients are well absorbed, and transported so the the body metabolizes food well, transporting nutrients around the body.
When these two organs are not working in harmony, “dampness” occurs. Excess water within the system doesn’t move well and you can experience symptoms such as oedema, swelling, bloating, gas, diarrhoea or constipation, brain fog, sluggishness, difficulty with urination, aching limbs and sore, stiff joints.
In the video above I talk all about the Spleen & Stomach – what strengthens and what weakens, so watch the video below, and you can find more recipes and info in the orange colour chapter in my books.
If you’d like to know more about how the seasons link to your emotions, your organs and the food you choose, enter your email for a free class at the end of the month
Chi Flow with Jo Waitlist