I dig my thumbnail into my higher proper thigh for distraction, feigning normalcy within the salon chair. I am strolling a psychological tightrope above a staggering canyon of hysteria, which threatens to grip my ankles and drag me down complete. “Only a trim please,” I say by shallow breaths, sustaining a poker face regardless of internal chaos. Mid-haircut, I am on the point of having a panic assault—till I bear in mind the banana I’ve stashed in my bag for each time nervousness strikes.
That’s proper: For effectively over a 12 months, throughout one of many worst bouts of hysteria I’ve ever skilled, my protection was a tropical fruit. I began carrying a banana with me in all places after a determined Google search in mid-2021 revealed that the fruit may assist alleviate nervousness. Sure, I’m effectively conscious of how ridiculous that will sound, and on the time, I used to be skeptical, too. However I used to be additionally right down to attempt something to cease having panic assaults.
For effectively over a 12 months, throughout one of many worst bouts of hysteria I’ve ever skilled, my protection was a tropical fruit.
For many of my life, nervousness has been like a bit child clinging to my decrease leg—typically sleepy and tame, mendacity dormant; different occasions, roaring and disruptive, attempting to tug me down laborious in the midst of the room for all to see. Regardless of having extra run-ins with nervousness than I care to recount, I’ve all the time been decided to maneuver by it naturally, even when that is meant attempting bizarre issues like retaining a banana in my bag 24/7. Admittedly, it wasn’t essentially the most handy factor to maintain readily available. However a lot to my shock, it labored wonders.
Consultants In This Article
- Lena Elkhatib, LMFT, CST, relationship and intercourse therapist and founding father of Avid Intimacy, in Chicago
- Romane Guerot, RDN, registered dietitian, sport nutritionist, and way of life coach at vitamin app Foodvisor
- Sara Chatfield, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and vitamin knowledgeable at Healthcanal
- Shari Botwin, LCSW, therapist with a specialization in trauma, abuse, consuming issues, nervousness, and despair
Minutes after I demolished the aforementioned banana in entrance of all the salon, I felt my shoulders loosen up. I reveled in a much-needed deep breath. It was like waking up from a foul dream. As soon as once more secure inside my physique, I hoped I may maintain onto this sense, a want I had on most days throughout this era of my life.
The quick soothing impact of the banana was borderline unfathomable—a lot so, I had a sense it couldn’t simply be the results of the fruit’s biochemistry (extra on that under). If it was that easy to knock out a panic assault with a chunk of fruit, everybody would toss out their nervousness drugs and begin making smoothies as a substitute. It seems my aid might have been as a lot a product of the banana’s dietary content material because it was the calming energy of merely realizing I had one with me, able to wield it each time mandatory.
Why consuming bananas might assist to restrict nervousness
Whereas it might sound far-fetched, there’s some science to assist the truth that bananas will help with nervousness. For starters, you would possibly recall listening to that bananas are wealthy in potassium, which has given the fruit its fame as an answer for muscle cramps: Potassium is a star with regards to facilitating muscle contractions and wholesome communication between muscle mass and nerves. However it might probably even have a useful impact on the cardiovascular system that will assist psychological well being.
“Once you really feel anxious, you could have an excessive amount of of a hormone referred to as adrenaline [coursing through your body], which makes your coronary heart race and your thoughts really feel jumpy,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Romane Guerot, RDN. “Potassium can hold adrenaline in examine.”
Certainly, analysis reveals that potassium may act as a natural beta-blocker, decreasing blood pressure by easing tension in the blood-vessel walls and blocking such blood-pressure-raising hormones as adrenaline. That is a elaborate means of claiming, “potassium helps your coronary heart beat steadily and your muscle mass work correctly, together with those concerned within the nervousness response,” says Guerot.
Over time, the supportive connection between potassium and coronary heart well being might have a ripple impact on psychological well being. A 2023 research of greater than 500 individuals in China discovered that low potassium levels correlated with higher levels of anxiety and depression, suggesting grounds for growing potassium consumption. And on condition that bananas are wealthy in potassium (a medium one contains about 400 mg), consuming them extra typically would possibly assist to maintain nervousness ranges at bay.
In line with registered dietitian nutritionist Sara Chatfield, MPH, RDN, it’s not simply the potassium that might give bananas their anti-anxiety impact, both. “Bananas are also high in tryptophan, a vital amino acid and serotonin precursor [meaning that it’s a building block of the happiness neurotransmitter], which may help to ease stress and anxiety,” she says.
Uncovering this wealth of analysis made me really feel at the least 10 p.c extra regular for carrying a banana round as a mental-health instrument—and but, it is price noting that none of those research level to the quick results of consuming a banana on a panic assault. However as psychology would have it, even simply believing within the energy of my emotional assist banana might have been sufficient to show it right into a bonafide nervousness resolution.
How the placebo impact can play a task in managing nervousness
In the course of the time frame when a banana accompanied me in all places—to work, on errands, and to social plans—I felt extra comfy simply realizing I had it inside attain. Typically, I would not even eat it (except I really received hungry). Many occasions, I did use my tropical instrument to remain calm. However no matter consumption, I got here to consider I might be alright so long as I may down a banana earlier than a panic assault downed me.
In medication, that is referred to as the placebo impact: a phenomenon that happens when believing within the efficacy of a treatment makes us really feel higher, even when that treatment lacks any physiological influence. In line with therapist Shari Botwin, LCSW, the placebo impact can work wonders with regards to mitigating nervousness. “After we take concrete steps to handle feelings that really feel out of our management, it provides our nervousness much less energy, and it turns into much less consuming,” she says. In my case, the concrete step of packing a banana might have had that impact no matter whether or not I ate it.
“After we take concrete steps to handle feelings that really feel out of our management, it provides our nervousness much less energy, and it turns into much less consuming.” —Shari Botwin, LCSW, therapist
There’s additionally a sure sense of psychological security that may include routine and predictability. “Carrying round a banana, or a ‘good-luck appeal,’ can serve the aim of interrupting the nervousness spiral and offering the sensation of being protected,” says therapist Lena Elkhatib, LMFT, CST. “That permits nervousness to take a step again and for optimistic outcomes to have their probability to be realized.” And the extra optimistic outcomes happen, “the extra information our mind has that optimistic outcomes are a chance, serving to shield in opposition to future nervousness,” she provides.
Meaning every time I ate a banana and had a optimistic end result, my mind strengthened the affiliation between the 2, ultimately main me to really feel much less anxious simply carrying a banana in tow. It goes to indicate how impactful the mind-body connection might be—one thing that could be useful for us all to recollect when signs of a panic assault come up. On the finish of the day, we’re (and all the time can be) those in management.
Discovering an nervousness resolution that works for you
Do not get me improper: If you happen to’re taking medicine for nervousness, do not ditch it for a bunch of bananas. (What works for one particular person isn’t essentially what’s going to work for the following.) And in case your nervousness is retaining you from doing the stuff you want and need to do, it’s necessary to see a licensed mental health professional for assist relatively than counting on strategies for self-soothing.
That stated, in the event you’re trying to discover alternative ways to assist your self within the face of hysteria, listed below are a pair different issues to contemplate:
Respiratory workout routines
Analysis has proven that deep respiration can shut down the physical symptoms of anxiety. It’d take some follow to get the rhythm down, however I can attest: This actually will help. Strive an app like Breathe+ to get began with 4-7-8 breathing, a method that entails a four-count inhale, seven-count maintain, and eight-count exhale.
Partaking all 5 senses
If you happen to assume you are inching near a panic assault, attempt the 5-4-3-2-1 method to close it down: Concentrate on 5 issues you may see, 4 issues you may contact, three issues you may hear, two issues you may odor, and one factor you may style. (Banana, anybody?) The truth is, all these occasions I ate a banana to outsmart nervousness “might have additionally served the aim of bringing you again to your 5 senses,” says Elkhatib. “The sensory course of may have been part of your nervous system enjoyable.”
Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, strong research to again up the knowledge we share. You’ll be able to belief us alongside your wellness journey.
- Filippini, Tommaso et al. “Potassium Consumption and Blood Strain: A Dose-Response Meta-Evaluation of Randomized Managed Trials.” Journal of the American Coronary heart Affiliation vol. 9,12 (2020): e015719. doi:10.1161/JAHA.119.015719
- Wu, Zihao et al. “Decrease 24-h urinary potassium excretion is related to larger prevalent despair and nervousness standing usually inhabitants.” Mind and habits vol. 13,4 (2023): e2842. doi:10.1002/brb3.2842
- Richard, Daybreak M et al. “L-Tryptophan: Primary Metabolic Capabilities, Behavioral Analysis and Therapeutic Indications.” Worldwide journal of tryptophan analysis : IJTR vol. 2 (2009): 45-60. doi:10.4137/ijtr.s2129
- Jenkins, Trisha A et al. “Affect of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Temper and Cognition with a Potential Position of the Intestine-Mind Axis.” Vitamins vol. 8,1 56. 20 Jan. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8010056