How Keeping a Banana in Tow Eased My Anxiety

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 via shallow breaths, sustaining a poker face regardless of inside chaos. Mid-haircut, I am getting ready to having a panic assault—till I keep in mind the banana I’ve stashed in my bag for at any time when anxiousness strikes.

That’s proper: For nicely over a yr, 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 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 nicely over a yr, 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 a bit child clinging to my decrease leg—typically sleepy and tame, mendacity dormant; different instances, roaring and disruptive, making an attempt to pull me down laborious 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 via it naturally, even when that is meant making an attempt bizarre issues like conserving 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.

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 professional 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 complete 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 might maintain onto this sense, a want I had on most days throughout this era of my life.

The fast 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 bit of fruit, everybody would toss out their anxiousness medicines and begin making smoothies as a substitute. It seems my reduction could have been as a lot a product of the banana’s dietary content material because it was the calming energy of merely understanding I had one with me, able to wield it at any time when essential.

Why consuming bananas could assist to restrict anxiousness

Whereas it could sound far-fetched, there’s some science to help the truth that bananas can assist with anxiousness. For starters, you would possibly recall listening to that bananas are wealthy in potassium, which has given the fruit its status as an answer for muscle cramps: Potassium is a star in terms of facilitating muscle contractions and wholesome communication between muscle groups and nerves. However it might even have a helpful impact on the cardiovascular system that will help psychological well being.

“If you really feel anxious, you will 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 exhibits that potassium could act as a pure beta-blocker, reducing blood strain by easing pressure within the blood-vessel partitions and blocking such blood-pressure-raising hormones as adrenaline. That is a elaborate manner of claiming, “potassium helps your coronary heart beat steadily and your muscle groups work correctly, together with those concerned within the anxiousness response,” says Guerot.

Over time, the supportive connection between potassium and coronary heart well being could have a ripple impact on psychological well being. A 2023 research of greater than 500 folks in China discovered that low potassium ranges correlated with greater ranges of tension and melancholy, suggesting grounds for rising potassium consumption. And provided that bananas are wealthy in potassium (a medium one incorporates about 400 mg), consuming them extra usually 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 additionally excessive in tryptophan, a necessary amino acid and serotonin precursor [meaning that it’s a building block of the happiness neurotransmitter], which can assist to ease stress and anxiousness,” 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 price noting that none of those research level to the fast results of consuming a banana on a panic assault. However as psychology would have it, even simply believing within the energy of my emotional help banana could have been sufficient to show it right into a bonafide anxiousness answer.

How the placebo impact can play a task in managing anxiousness

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 relaxed simply understanding I had it inside attain. Typically, I would not even eat it (until I really acquired hungry). Many instances, I did use my tropical software to remain calm. However no matter consumption, I got here to imagine I might be alright so long as I might down a banana earlier than a panic assault downed me.

In drugs, 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 keeping with therapist Shari Botwin, LCSW, the placebo impact can work wonders in terms 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 could 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 appeal,’ can serve the aim of interrupting the anxiousness spiral and offering the sensation of being protected,” says therapist Lena Elkhatib, LMFT, CST. “That enables anxiousness to take a step again and for optimistic outcomes to have their probability to be realized.” And the extra optimistic outcomes happen, “the extra knowledge our mind has that optimistic outcomes are a chance, serving to shield in opposition to future anxiousness,” she provides.

Meaning every time I ate a banana and had a optimistic 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 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 at all times shall be) those in management.

Discovering an anxiousness answer that works for you

Do not get me incorrect: Should you’re taking remedy 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 conserving you from doing the belongings you want and need to do, it’s necessary to see a licensed psychological well being skilled for help moderately than counting on strategies for self-soothing.

That mentioned, in case you’re trying to discover alternative ways to help your self within the face of tension, listed here are a pair different issues to contemplate:

Respiratory workout routines

Analysis has proven that deep respiratory can shut down the bodily signs of tension. It would take some follow to get the rhythm down, however I can attest: This actually can assist. Attempt an app like Breathe+ to get began with 4-7-8 respiratory, a way that entails a four-count inhale, seven-count maintain, and eight-count exhale.

Participating all 5 senses

Should you suppose you are inching near a panic assault, attempt the 5-4-3-2-1 technique to close it down: Deal with 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?) In actual fact, all these instances I ate a banana to outsmart anxiousness “could 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 enjoyable.”

Effectively+Good articles reference scientific, dependable, latest, strong research to again up the data we share. You possibly can belief us alongside your wellness journey.

  1. Filippini, Tommaso et al. “Potassium Consumption and Blood Stress: 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
  2. Wu, Zihao et al. “Decrease 24-h urinary potassium excretion is related to greater prevalent melancholy and anxiousness standing on the whole inhabitants.” Mind and conduct vol. 13,4 (2023): e2842. doi:10.1002/brb3.2842
  3. Richard, Daybreak M et al. “L-Tryptophan: Fundamental Metabolic Features, Behavioral Analysis and Therapeutic Indications.” Worldwide journal of tryptophan analysis : IJTR vol. 2 (2009): 45-60. doi:10.4137/ijtr.s2129
  4. Jenkins, Trisha A et al. “Affect of Tryptophan and Serotonin on Temper and Cognition with a Attainable Function of the Intestine-Mind Axis.” Vitamins vol. 8,1 56. 20 Jan. 2016, doi:10.3390/nu8010056

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