What to eat when Panic Attacks

What to eat when Panic Attacks

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.

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Feeling flat? I can see the future

Feeling flat? I can see the future

What do we do when all plans are out of the window? Perhaps you had arrangements for this summer. Maybe you were getting married, going abroad on your dream holiday, finishing your leaving cert or celebrating a big number birthday but now all those plans are gone. Even as lockdown loosens and restrictions ease, we can be left feeling flat. Without working towards a hopeful future we had planned, we can feel despondent in the present. Good news, Traditional Chinese Medicine with a focus on diet and acupressure points can help us appreciate this period of uncertainty and even guide us into a more balanced, happier future.

Firstly when you are lacking mental brightness and positivity don’t push yourself. Simply be where you are. Notice what is around you, name five things that you see or hear that are beautiful. This can be hearing birdsong, seeing how green the grass is or, sensing how the breeze moves the leaves in the trees. When you prepare food, do it with love. Arrange your meal on the plate so it looks beautiful, clear and set the table with care so you eat with appreciation. These are small simple tips that in Chinese Medicine that feed the heart. This organ is the emperor of the body, it stores our spirit and is represented by a flame. Don’t let your fire dwindle, feed the flame and lift your spirit by seeing and creating beauty right here, right now. The season of the Heart is the summer so choosing all those fantastic summer foods such as watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, beetroot, tomato, radish and red peppers benefit the heart physically and emotionally. Try experimenting and put them together in a new way so you see your food as alluring and elegant.

Watermelon works well in a salad dish and complements a barbeque splendidly. In Traditional Chinese Medicine this ingredient cools summer heat. When your inner flame is burning too brightly and you are overheating, red in the face or sweating profusely, juice this fruit or munch on segments to move blood, reducing pain and heat around the joints, making this a perfect food for gout, arthritis and fibromyalgia.
1 medium watermelon
100g feta cheese
1 red onion
A handful of fresh basil leaves
2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Chop the watermelon into bite-size pieces. Slice the red onions into paper-thin, half-moons and sprinkle them along with the crumbled feta onto the watermelon. Scatter the basil leaves and drizzle the olive oil over the top to finish.
Tip: Choose a watermelon that has wide spaces between the dark green lines – they’re sweeter that way.

A physical exercise to shift stagnant downturned emotions is to make loose fists and lightly pummel the front of the thighs. Bring the fists up and down over the quads, which are a group of four large muscles at the front of the legs between the knees and hips, for about 30 seconds. This stimulates the Stomach and Spleen channels, responsible for harmony and comfort in the body. So rather than reaching for something sweet to raise the spirits try a little light pummeling which after a couple of days, works wonders in lifting despondent spirits.

It can be hard to appreciate the present when the future feels uncertain but being in the heart in the present moment can transform tragedy to inner strength.  Be kind to yourself. I cant assure you there are better things on the way but there will be different things and if we can keep the eyes open appreciating the beauty in life, right here right now it will help glide us easily along the path to a bright, balanced tomorrow.


For more information on Shiatsu Conscious Cooking visit www.joannefaulkner.ie @joannefaulknerShiatsu on Facebook and Instagram
Buy the book full of recipes, tips and Chinese Medicine at www.joannefaulkner.ie

Do you want to understand your body and take control of all areas of your health?  Take the Online Courses to become more body confident, loving your food, loving your body, and loving your life.

Courses include: 2 Online Shiatsu sessions with dietary advice PLUS Copy of Conscious Cookbook sent straight to your door
PLUS 30 Days / 30 Videos – bitesize cookery programs, Chi-Gong exercises, and self-shiatsu acupressure points in your own home.

Choose from:

  1. Stopping Sweet Cravings
  2. Sexy Savvy Menopause
  3. Reduce Pain in Fibromyalgia  and Chronic Fatigue
  4. Good Food: Better Health
  5. Good Food: Better Sex

Watch the video to find out more at https://joannefaulkner.ie/online-courses/


Feeling afraid in Lockdown?

Feeling afraid in Lockdown?

Flow with the figure 8 and feel the mind & body relax.

Just before COVID-19 hit, I had invested my savings into self-publishing my new book, Good Food: Better Sex. I’d taken a leap of faith and thought I can do this, it’s time for me to expand and flourish, the world needs what I have to offer. So relying on sales of the book, my online courses, upcoming retreats and regular Shiatsu clients, I stepped into my spotlight and was suddenly blinded by the unforeseen impact of a virus I had seen start thousands of miles away in China. My clinic closed, retreats canceled and upcoming TV and media appearances no longer had space to talk about Good Food and Better Health. The threat of the virus was very real as one of my sons has an underlying chest condition so I made plans to take him and his twin to stay with their dad, living on an island off Ireland. That seemed to be the safest place for them to be.

At this point, it felt like I’d lost everything. I had no money, no family, no clients, and it seemed like my new book could be dead in the water. I too left my home in Dublin and moved in with my partner in Castletownbere, West Cork, the end of nowhere. No more bustling city, and interaction with neighbours, now there’s only fields and sheep. What was going to happen now that I had lost all control of my life? DRAMA – I thought poor me!!

I soon realized I’m not dead. I have access to running water, a warm bed to sleep in and food in the fridge. I am just having change forced on me when I was not expecting or prepared for it. However, nothing in life stays the same – the one constant is that everything changes.

The first law of thermodynamics states “Energy cannot be created nor destroyed”, energy is infinite, it goes on and on and on. To our narrow perception, this does not seem to ring true. It seems like we use energy and then it is gone. We burn coal or collect wind for electricity which turns on the TV, the lights or charges our phones. But when the TV is turned off, or the batteries run low, it seems like the energy is used up. But that is not true, it has just changed form. Fire converts chemicals into thermal and light energy. When you turn off the light, the electromagnetic energy is still present, it just is not visible. An easy example is sunlight which transforms earth to give the food which we, eat, digest, and transform into our energy, along with waste material which goes back into the earth.

The symbol used to represent this flow of energy and therefore life is the endless horizontal figure ∞. It is used in mathematical equations and I am using it in my daily Chi Gong practice to calm the mind and body. It’s one thing to know something, but another to feel it. To help the surges of anxiety, chest tightening, poor sleep, overwork, overthinking, panic-inducing, grief and uncertainty we may be feeling, I’m sharing a few Chi Gong exercises that help the mind and body loosen the fear by using the figure ∞. Energy doesn’t travel in straight lines. As I said before, it doesn’t have a beginning and an endpoint. It loops and flows, spiraling and swirling as it travels. We see it in the way rivers flow and the breeze blows. Large retail companies make use of this knowledge when guiding shoppers through their stores so they don’t come through one door and out of another. They meander through shops and end up in the sections full of temptation they had not anticipated. In my Shiatsu Clinic, I diagnose where energy is stuck in the body and help it flow through the meridians which flow in circles and figure 8’s through the body.


Making these fluid 8 shapes with our body has a wonderfully calming effect on the mind. I have been sharing them on Facebook Live at 8.30 every morning since lockdown began so that I can remain within the flow of the current situation rather than be frozen in fear. This transitory state of lockdown during the coronavirus will pass. It will change and transform. I will change and transform, with the help of a practice grounded in a strong back and an open heart. I look forward to seeing where we all are when the world emerges. Acts of kindness to others have become commonplace and there is a deeper understanding of working together for a common good.

PS – after my initial despair, unexpectedly sales of the book and the online course began flowing I could not have predicted a sales spike when my daily work was less than ever. It seems that during lockdown we all have time and space to explore Good Food and Better Sex

Now is the time to make changes to your health and your diet

I can teach you how to understand your body and take control of all areas of your health.

Courses include: Online Consultation PLUS Copy of Conscious Cookbook sent straight to your door
Tailored Videos – bitesize cookery programs, Chi-Gong exercises, and self-shiatsu acupressure points in your own home.

Choose from:

  1. Stopping Sweet Cravings
  2. Sexy Savvy Menopause
  3. Reduce Pain in Fibromyalgia  and Chronic Fatigue
  4. Good Food: Better Health

Watch the video to find out more at https://joannefaulkner.ie/online-courses/