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 tension, which threatens to grip my ankles and drag me down entire. “Only a trim please,” I say by shallow breaths, sustaining a poker face regardless of interior 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 at any time when anxiousness strikes.
That’s proper: For nicely over a 12 months, throughout one of many worst bouts of tension 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 might assist alleviate anxiousness. Sure, I’m nicely conscious of how ridiculous which will sound, and on the time, I used to be skeptical, too. However I used to be additionally all the way down to attempt something to cease having panic assaults.
For nicely over a 12 months, throughout one of many worst bouts of tension I’ve ever skilled, my protection was a tropical fruit.
For many of my life, anxiousness has been like slightly child clinging to my decrease leg—typically sleepy and tame, mendacity dormant; different instances, roaring and disruptive, making an attempt to pull me down exhausting in the course of the room for all to see. Regardless of having extra run-ins with anxiousness than I care to recount, I’ve at all times been decided to maneuver by it naturally, even when that is meant making an attempt bizarre issues like preserving a banana in my bag 24/7. Admittedly, it wasn’t essentially the most handy factor to maintain available. However a lot to my shock, it labored wonders.
Specialists 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 life-style coach at diet app Foodvisor
- Sara Chatfield, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and diet skilled at Healthcanal
- Shari Botwin, LCSW, therapist with a specialization in trauma, abuse, consuming issues, anxiousness, and melancholy
Minutes after I demolished the aforementioned banana in entrance of your entire salon, I felt my shoulders loosen up. I reveled in a much-needed deep breath. It was like waking up from a nasty dream. As soon as once more protected inside my physique, I hoped I might maintain onto this sense, a want I had on most days throughout this era of my life.
The rapid 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 beneath). If it was that easy to knock out a panic assault with a chunk of fruit, everybody would toss out their anxiousness drugs and begin making smoothies as an alternative. It seems my reduction might have been as a lot a product of the banana’s dietary content material because it was the calming energy of merely figuring out I had one with me, able to wield it at any time when needed.
Why consuming bananas might assist to restrict anxiousness
Whereas it could sound far-fetched, there’s some science to assist the truth that bananas may also help with anxiousness. For starters, you would possibly recall listening to that bananas are wealthy in potassium, which has given the fruit its popularity as an answer for muscle cramps: Potassium is a star on the subject of facilitating muscle contractions and wholesome communication between muscle mass and nerves. However it may well even have a helpful impact on the cardiovascular system which will assist psychological well being.
“While you really feel anxious, you’ll 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 preserve adrenaline in verify.”
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 anxiousness 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 examine of greater than 500 folks in China discovered that low potassium levels correlated with higher levels of anxiety and depression, suggesting grounds for growing potassium consumption. And provided that bananas are wealthy in potassium (a medium one contains about 400 mg), consuming them extra typically would possibly assist to maintain anxiousness ranges at bay.
In keeping with registered dietitian nutritionist Sara Chatfield, MPH, RDN, it’s not simply the potassium that would give bananas their anti-anxiety impact, both. “Bananas are also high in tryptophan, a necessary 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 software—and but, it is value noting that none of those research level to the rapid 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 anxiousness resolution.
How the placebo impact can play a job in managing anxiousness
In the course of the time period when a banana accompanied me in all places—to work, on errands, and to social plans—I felt extra comfortable simply figuring out I had it inside attain. Typically, I would not even eat it (except I truly obtained hungry). Many instances, I did use my tropical software to remain calm. However no matter consumption, I got here to consider I might be alright so long as I might 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 affect. In keeping with therapist Shari Botwin, LCSW, the placebo impact can work wonders on the subject of mitigating anxiousness. “After we take concrete steps to handle feelings that really feel out of our management, it offers our anxiousness 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 offers our anxiousness 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 attraction,’ can serve the aim of interrupting the anxiousness spiral and offering the sensation of being protected,” says therapist Lena Elkhatib, LMFT, CST. “That permits anxiousness to take a step again and for constructive outcomes to have their probability to be realized.” And the extra constructive outcomes happen, “the extra knowledge our mind has that constructive outcomes are a chance, serving to defend in opposition to future anxiousness,” she provides.
Which means every time I ate a banana and had a constructive final 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 could 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 at all times shall be) those in management.
Discovering an anxiousness resolution that works for you
Do not get me mistaken: In the event you’re taking medicine for anxiousness, do not ditch it for a bunch of bananas. (What works for one individual isn’t essentially what’s going to work for the subsequent.) And in case your anxiousness is preserving you from doing the stuff you want and wish to do, it’s necessary to see a licensed mental health professional for assist slightly than counting on methods for self-soothing.
That stated, for those who’re trying to discover other ways to assist your self within the face of tension, 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 apply to get the rhythm down, however I can attest: This actually may also help. Attempt 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
In the event you suppose you are inching near a panic assault, attempt the 5-4-3-2-1 method to close it down: Give attention to 5 issues you may see, 4 issues you may contact, three issues you may hear, two issues you may scent, and one factor you may style. (Banana, anybody?) The truth is, all these instances I ate a banana to outsmart anxiousness “might have additionally served the aim of bringing you again to your 5 senses,” says Elkhatib. “The sensory course of might have been part of your nervous system stress-free.”
Nicely+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, sturdy research to again up the data we share. You possibly can 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 melancholy and anxiousness standing basically inhabitants.” Mind and conduct vol. 13,4 (2023): e2842. doi:10.1002/brb3.2842
- Richard, Daybreak M et al. “L-Tryptophan: Primary Metabolic Features, 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 Doable Position of the Intestine-Mind Axis.” Vitamins vol. 8,1 56. 20 Jan. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8010056
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