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Got nerves? Eat a banana!

A few years back, I wrote about preparing your mind for the NCLEX. Since everyone feels some level of anxiety before a test, I talked about preparation as the key to success. There is nothing that can replace good, old-fashioned study and preparation. 

I also suggested a tried and true technique to help take control of nerves before check in at the testing center. It involves writing down your thoughts, feelings and worries on a piece of paper… and then crumbling that piece of paper up and throwing it in a trash can. 

It’s a simple and symbolic gesture of tossing your worries in the trash.

Anxiety still rules

I bring this up because lately there have been lots of posts about NCLEX anxiety. This is especially true for those of you who are repeat test takers. Do any of these statements sound like you?

  • “I take my nclex exam next month for the first time. I am SO nervous, I want to reschedule…”
  • “Doing NCLEX RN again, NEED HELP, nervous”
  • “i’m going for my 3rd attempt at the nclex exam and I’m feeling very nervous right now…”

So, guess what? Besides adequate preparation and even symbolically throwing your worries in the trash, I have stumbled across yet another short-term intervention to help control your anxiety - bananas!

Why bananas?

Bananas are natural beta-adrenergic blockers. You’ll recall that beta blockers are used to treat angina, hypertension and arrhythmias.

But beta blockers are also used to treat nonessential tremors and anxiety. Essentially, beta blockers prevent adrenaline from binding to beta receptors. This results in lowered blood pressure and pulse rate (which normally skyrocket when under stress).

I actually found a whole bunch (like the pun?) of articles about how eating a banana before a musical performance can reduce anxiety (aka stage fright).

Have a banana boost

There are even more benefits. Eating one or two bananas about 30 minutes before a test can help you stay alert and boost your thinking throughout the test. 

That’s because bananas contain three different kinds of sugar – the glucose and fructose are responsible for giving you a quick burst of energy and the sucrose will work to keep your blood sugar levels more stable over time.

Here are some other fun facts.  Bananas…

  • Contain vitamin B6, necessary for your body to synthesize its own serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation.
  • Provide the amino acid tryptophan – which turns into serotonin, as well as melatonin, in the brain.
  • Are full of potassium and magnesium, natural nerve and muscle relaxants.

Now it’s your turn

For those of you studying and preparing for the NCLEX… stop going bananas. Eat them instead!

Are you going to eat a banana (or two) before you take the NCLEX? 

How else are you preparing for the NCLEX?

  • Is there any adverse effects of overeating bananas? Every time I eat banana it made me sleepy. Now I understand the rationale behind why it makes me sleepy, that it lowers BP and pulse rate. But I learned that when I'm stressed out I just have to consume banana, which is one of my favorites! Thanks Ms. Sue! I always love your blogs!

  • thankyou soo much for ur suggestions,banana really works.during 1st attempt i was soo scared and could hear my heartbeats through out exam but during my 2nd attempt i tried banana i was calm via out the exam and passed my exam,,

  • Anything else besides bananas? Bananas and me don't mix...

  • Susan, NCSBN

    Is their hope for someone who has taken the boards several times and not passed. I am dyslexic with severe test anxiety, and I receive accommodations.

  • maybe read the answer choices first to see what direction the question is leading..kinda make a backward approach..

  • Thank you, Ms. Sue! This helped me every time I felt anxious or when my focus begins to dwindle during the review and on the test day as well :)

  • I will keep this in mind when am going bananas. Thanks.

  • @kmarie55: Yes! There's always hope!! Lots of people have written posts in the Student Connection and in Testimonials about coming back to pass the NCLEX after failing. And lots of people have test anxiety, but being prepared will help calm your fears. Remember, you can always Ask the Instructor if you have specific questions about course content or any of the practice questions. You can do this!

  • Amazing ha,is good to know Banana can help me reduce my anxiety about the going to be my fourth time taking it, so you can imagine all the thoughts in my mind.thanks for the tip

  • I was wondering what to do to help me remember or recall the things I study fast,is there any help or advices. anything to boost my mind and to recall.

  • @jhodanu: Well, I guess an obvious answer would be to slow down. Really... schedule short study times and then a break, which will give your brain time to process what you just learned. I like the 1-hour rule: study for 50 minutes and then a 10-min. break. Also, get plenty of sleep, make time for physical exercise and eat a brain-boosting diet (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein, for example.) Mnemonic devices help a lot of people (we have lots in our course). Many people also swear by flashcards, and review them just before bedtime - this "spaced rehearsal" is really effective. There's a lot of research that supports using different as many senses as possible to enhance memory - the physical act of rewriting something or reading out loud are 2 things to try. Happy studying!

  • that's awesome!!!!!!!!!!  I'll eat bananas everyday :)

  • Thank God i passed my Nclex the 2nd time with 85 questions, i was so calm and i was ready with the help from ncsbn... i will recommend this program to anyone i know... am so proud of myself and am ready to make the money. (smiles)

  • Absolutely works, took my Nclex on April 24th 2015, i was calm, all anxiety after i ate the banana. and above all i passed with 76 question. Thank you NCSBN