By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
Typically for spring break, I go home. Don’t get me wrong, it’s actually amazing. I get to see my family and my friends and drive my own car and not deal with schoolwork and oh, did I tell you I’m from Miami? Basically, I live where everyone vacations. There’s the beach, the parties, the sun, the tan (except I’m already really tan so I hide under an umbrella). I can even wear flip flops, which is obviously a necessity.
The thing is, although I’m in paradise, I still think about all the work I have to do. I plan to apply for jobs this spring break (How much fun is that?). Well, it’s actually pretty exciting because I’m a nerd, who also plans to read for fun during spring break.
But the fact of the matter is, my mind still wanders back to my textbooks, my job apps, my laptop — and anxiety kicks in. I start to remember a time where the week before, I was in the freezing cold, always tired and stressed out and worrying, and you might as well put me in a mental hospital because I’m going ballistic. I freak out like any other normal college student and when it comes down to it, I basically planned my whole “vacation time” around doing work.
The thing is, we actually need to chill out.
This theory of taking breaks goes back to a study in 1999 by Wall Street insurance company New Century Global, who collaborated with the Cornell University Ergonomics Research Laboratory. In the 10-week study, they used a program to remind employees to keep good posture and take short breaks. Researchers found that the workers who took breaks were 13 percent more accurate in their work on average, while other workers who didn’t take breaks slipped up.
In another study published in the journal Cognition, researchers found that if people took short breaks, it would help them maintain focus without losing the quality of their work like it would if they worked overtime.
It’s not like I don’t take short breaks anyway, thanks to my BFF, the Internet.
Let’s be real, you know you take breaks all the time to watch Ellen DeGeneres because she’s hilarious. That’s a given, but seriously, watching those funny Parks and Rec clips do more than waste time — same goes for spring break. Yes, I know, it’s fun to dance on tables and ruin your liver, but remember, spring break is a much needed mental break. This week will actually help your concentration and help with your work performance after vacation. If you drink too much Corona and kill your brain cells, well, I don’t think I can help you there.
Either way, just “Don’t go cray on your vacay, brown suga.”
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
I’m addicted to coffee. The first time I had a drop of coffee, I think the world literally stopped for a split second. It was earth shattering. Now, when I wake up, I can’t live without coffee. And I’m not alone, it is a $30 billion industry after all.
No, but really: If I don’t have a cup of coffee, I’ll have an extreme migraine. I can’t function, I can’t think, I can’t formulate sentences, I can’t even eat (just kidding, I can always eat). The point is, I’m actually addicted.
The problem is, as if an addiction isn’t a problem in itself, is that even when I have my fourth venti from Starbucks, I still manage to get headaches.
Is it because I spend the wee hours of the night cramming for bio exams, running around interviewing people while under deadlines and constantly reading literature texts with little to no decipherment? Well, BU wouldn’t be BU if it didn’t make its students go crazy. In between all of my work, I have nervous breakdowns. My eye twitches, knots form on my back and the headache creeps back in. No amount of coffee will help, and coffee is from the heavens. It’s the stress I tell you! But actually, Dr. Sara Schramm proves it really is the source of headaches.
According to a study released last week, researchers found that people who have more stress in their lives have more headaches than someone who spends their day on the sofa with their cat. Schramm, the lead researcher from the University of Duisburg-Essen, based her findings off of 5,000 participants in Germany for two years.
Schramm characterizes the level of headaches into four categories: tension headaches, migraines, a combination of both and unclassifiable headaches (I’d add caffeine headaches, but that’s just me). Participants deciphered how many headaches they had during check-ins and rated their stress level from zero to 100 based on a stress measurement scale.
Those with tension headaches, which are the most common, rated their stress at 52 out of 100, while volunteers with migraines said their stress level was 62 out of 100.
There’s always Advil, but why bother with it when there are ways to lower our stress level? Some people run, some do yoga and others sleep. I’m a little less conventional. I’ll drive to the mall, pick up a cup of coffee and head to Brookstone. I eye the room for the closest massage chair and literally sit in one for 30 minutes. Then I scour the store to buy something small so I don’t feel guilty, but guess what, it works (the employees sometimes give me dirty looks, but who cares? I got the best (free) massage #iaintgotnoworries).
So take some time out of studying and relax. I’ll work on my caffeine addiction headaches next, but I can’t fully quit. Fine, we can talk about it sometime over coffee.
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
Before I went to school and before I had any friends, my mom was my best friend. We used to play Mario Kart and Street Fighter, which I would always win (probably because she just pressed a bunch of buttons and hoped she wouldn’t spin out on a banana peel or get knocked out).
When it came to games like Monopoly, I’d lose. Unless I use a calculator, I’m not playing. Scrabble? I probably shouldn’t use a dictionary, right? And then there was the Memory game. It was one of my favorites, but I’ve learned (and this is still a problem), my memory sucks.
I could never remember where the other picture of the dumb boy sticking his tongue out at me was. It was like he was taunting me and I’d panic and blank out. If I lost — which happened more than I’d like to admit — I’d cry, like the big baby I was. Then my mom would take pity on me, flip some cards over and we’d play again.
A study published earlier this month in the Journal of Neuroscience explains that our loss of memory is actually our memories getting rewritten.
Donna Jo Bridge, a postdoctoral fellow in medical social sciences at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, conducted a study where 17 volunteers played a memory game. They had to remember where an object was placed on a computer screen with different backgrounds. Once the original background was changed, and participants had to place where the object was, they continuously got it wrong. When they were asked to locate the object in the original place after seeing it in different places on three different backgrounds, they would get that wrong too. The results of the study makes me feel a little better about my childhood.
The good news is, when researchers instructed for volunteers to put the object in a different location that was not the original spot, for some reason the subjects could then remember the original location of the object.
So what this study can infer is that the hippocampus (the area of the brain that deals with our memories) can decide what is important and can build upon that original memory or change it. It makes total sense. I say that I have selective memory just because I can remember in vivid detail in kindergarten when a bully (I won’t name any names) stole my Purell hand sanitizer and then filled it with soap and water and put it in my lunch box. Yup, never letting that go. But there are (multiple) times when I meet a group of people and instantaneously, I forget their names. Yeah, yeah, sue me.
But there are also times when this selective memory can benefit us.
Thanks to the hippocampus, our memory of the past can be altered subconsciously. Think of your ex-boyfriend. Don’t you kind of hate him? Well good. He was a jerk anyway. But if our memory actually remembered all the good things that happened, you’d probably never be able to get over the guy who played you. We tend to focus on the bad instead of that first kiss under a shooting star. Because we focus on the bad, our memory alters toward that, which helps us move on. Can I get an amen?
So although we can remember something from our past, and think we remember it exactly how it went down, it’s possible that we’ve altered our memories. Maybe that bully in kindergarten gave me dirty looks all through grade school because I told on her… or maybe she just had the sun in her eyes? Come to think of it, she made the same face indoors. #hatersgonnahate
By Sanah Faroke
More often, we notice people holding hands as they walk down Newbury Street or sneak kisses while waiting for the T. Either you’re disgusted by it or you’re the one snogging up a storm. We didn’t see it coming, but Valentine’s Day is nearly here, and just like that, love sneaked up on us.
It was that spark that started it all, right? Both of your favorite foods are sandwiches? He saw your blue eyes and it reminded him of the ocean. The list goes on and on
I hate to break it to you sweetheart, but love doesn’t just happen out of nowhere, and it actually has more to do with your brain than your heart.
Those feelings of fluttering butterflies in your belly could be love (or that you ate too many cookies). It’s a little depressing, I know – especially for me because I really like those Girl Scout cookies – but the science behind love works in our favor. According to Helen Fisher, a researcher at Rutgers University, there are three stages of falling in love: lust, attraction and attachment.
I’m not gonna lie, one of the best parts of the Super Bowl was the ad where David Beckham takes off his shirt and runs around. Why is he running? Who knows? But let me tell you – no one is complaining. Sex hormones aren’t limited to just men. These hormones are a main component for a woman’s sex drive, which create our lust factor for David Beckham and his sculpted figure.
Then comes the phase where you can eat, sleep, think and talk about involving this other significantly amazing person. This is also the phase where your roommates will probably want to tape your mouth closed. In other words you’re on basically cloud nine.
Well, come back to reality for a bit because neuro-transmitters called ‘monoamines’ are the reason why you’re on this high. They’re practically like drugs that your brain produces. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are all chemicals that create the whole love-stuck experience. Dopamine is also activated by cocaine or nicotine. Norepinephrine is basically adrenalin which causes our hearts to race and serotonin is one of the most important chemicals in love — it’s the one that drives you bonkers.
After you’ve both decided that you like one another, it’s time to have “the talk.”
Let’s talk about ‘us.’ What are we doing? Can I change my Facebook status? Actually, don’t ask that one even though you want to define the relationship because, well, you’re finally attached. You want the commitment of the other person for fear that they’ll find someone else. It’s all because of two hormones released by the nervous system.
Oxytocin creates the strong bond and also is released when two people have sex, which is why people swear that the more sex you have, the deeper the relationship is (but remember, it’s just a theory)! Vasopressin, another chemical, is released after sex and is said to create a bond. A word to the wise, don’t go around sharing your Oxytocin with just anyone!
While you’re in your 20s, don’t feel too ashamed to still be in that awkward phase of coffee dates and not knowing what your “type” is.
So how much chemistry do you really have with that gorgeous person you see around campus? Did you look at him by accident? Did he stare back? Did you both smile at each other but nothing happened? Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, so step it up! Who knows when the next straight one is going to come along.
And just in case things don’t go as planned, there’s always Ben and Jerry’s.
But, on a positive note, always remember — love never goes as planned. Just look at Amy and Sheldon’s relationship on “The Big Bang Theory.” There’s a weird (lack of) sexual tension from misguided dirty talk, yet, I’m in love with them. As soon as you find your lust factor, there are only two steps left to love anyways, right? Go get ‘em tiger.
By Sanah Faroke
Whether you’re jamming out to Kendrick Lamar while getting ready for a party, or taking it easy with some tunes from Xx, your music typically reflects your mood and what you’re doing. A lot of the time, to prep myself for a long day, I listen to fast-paced music and it gets me in the zone.
What if songs were automatically streamed to you based upon what you’re doing? Spotify is trying just that.
Using your heart rate, Spotify will soon be able to deliver music geared to what it thinks you’re doing, whether it be biking, running or sitting. This new technology Spotify is trying to conduct can even help listeners feel warmer on cold days, something I’m not opposed to at all. If it could make me feel like I’m in Miami when it’s 10 degrees outside, I’d probably be indebted to Spotify for life.
So how is this possible?
Well, Spotify hopes to eventually use sensor data, possibly with the motion sensors on smart phones, or even a temperature sensor. Hopefully this idea can be put into effect soon! Although I’m a big Pandora fan, I might eventually switch to Spotify if it can send some Martin Garrix or Calvin Harris through my Beats headphones (you know how you like to walk to class like you own the place). Maybe Spotify can be the next game changer in the music world.
Either way, it’s always good when music makes want to dance like Lena Dunham in this scene out of Girls:
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
It’s about to be finals week and I’m stressing. I heard this myth once that college was supposed to be super fun with parties and football games and really chill class schedules, but that’s not the case at Boston University.
All I can think about are my 20-page papers, editorial projects and exams. And then, when I have the urge to give up, I get up, go into the kitchen and grab some Funyuns… and chocolate covered pretzels, and why not grab some Santa shaped cookies and heat up the pizza rolls and whatever else I can carry with me to the couch?
So basically, I have a feast — like straight up “the Last Supper,” with just with me and my textbooks, all in the hopes of de-stressing.
But honestly, can stress actually make us hungry for junk food? Let me tell you, #thestressisreal.
According to Kevin Laugero, a Research Nutritionist at the Western Human Nutrition Research Center/ARS/USDA and a Professor of Nutrition at the University of California Davis, we don’t actually eat more overall, we just alter what we eat. It’s no wonder why salad eaters switch to some good ol’ Velveeta mac and cheese during finals week.
The study, published in Popular Science compares human food habits with that of rodents, which is a little demeaning, but strangely accurate. Scientists have studied rats coping mechanisms with stress by cramming them into Plexiglas tubes or small areas (kind of sounds like a cubicle at the library, huh?)
When cooped in a small area for hours, scientists found that the rats lost their appetite for any type of healthy food, but were much more willing to eat junk food. I’m guessing the premise of “Ratatouille” may have some odds against it.
When animals get stressed they need additional energy to power through to escape being hunted. So, their bodies produce cortisol. This hormone triggers glucose stored in the fat and muscle and this is what motivates animals to find food that has the most calories in it. Similarly, we have comparable eating habits when it comes to stress, except we’re not running away from a predator — we’re running away from finals and trying to find comfort in a large tub of pistachio ice cream or what have you.
The thing is, stress does in fact affect us and our eating habits. To the extent that it affects 80 percent of the population, according to Popular Science. We’re all a little stressed out. Especially with finals approaching, don’t you just feel like you can take over the world when you’re “carbing” out? Well, at least until you go into a food coma, stress out about that and binge again…
Watch the video below to see something that might feel vaguely familiar to finals week:
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
I’m the worst liar. It sounds silly to admit because “everyone lies,” but I don’t have a knack for it. I’d divert my eyes, start to giggle or smile and run away.
A lie, for me, is kind of like stilettos. They are super cute, but if you wear them for six hours, they get tiring. You get blisters and callused heels and it’s almost not worth it. I’m a wedges girl myself, but those who like the long heels prepare themselves. And while girls prepare with band-aids and insoles, fibbers do their part to prepare too.
As painful as heels are, it’s much easier to pretend like those Louboutin’s don’t hurt after years of prep and practice. In the same way, people who lie are prone and do it more easily if they’ve prepped themselves with dialogue, scenarios, cue cards — you name it. Even on the spot lies have to be formulated somehow.
The fact of the matter is, it takes more effort to lie than to tell the truth, and why? Because it takes more brainpower to be a sly fox than to be an innocent sheep.
Brain imaging studies show just that. Xiaoqing Hu, a psychology doctoral candidate at Northwestern University, discovered that lying takes more of a mental effort than telling the truth because being honest is actually a natural default, and in order to come up with a dishonest response, we have to activate it.
In this study, Hu and his team asked volunteers ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions about themselves like their birthday or where they’re from. In some cases, they were told to tell the truth and in and in other cases, they were instructed to lie.
It was found that volunteers took longer to answer the question when they lied, but they actually were much faster to respond when they were telling the truth. However, when the researchers informed the volunteers what the study was about and were instructed to lie as best as they could, the results were different. Volunteers responded much quicker than originally and they lied even faster when they had time to prepare. Volunteers were almost as quick as when they said the truth, so now we can’t even tell! Great.
Hu’s next plan is to test the time it takes volunteers to lie with preparation to when they tell the truth.
The thing is, it’s much harder to keep up with all the lies over the years. It takes cognition, memorization, spontaneity… So, I guess honesty is actually the best policy, unless you get better at the latter.
To watch some true craftiness, see the video below:
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
Thanksgiving is the one time of year when you can eat as much as you want and not feel guilty about it. Naturally, it’s one of my favorite holidays. There’s so much to choose from at Thanksgiving dinner; from turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing to arroz con gandules, ensalada de papa and jamon…well, I grew up in Miami, so that’s my tradition #fakehispanic.
But at the end of the night with two (or maybe three) helpings, don’t you just feel like going into a food coma? We tend to blame it on the turkey because that’s our tradition too. Eat lots of turkey and then blame our sleepiness on eating so much of it. What if I told you that our tradition of accusing the turkey for our “after-dinner hibernation” is just a myth? I know, mind blown.
Now, before you go crazy like a headless turkey, just remember, I’m helping you out because who wants to miss out on the main course? So eating turkey can make you sleepy, but so can other types of meat like chicken or beef. Turkey has this amino acid called tryptophan, which our bodies use to build proteins and help us function properly. It’s used to make serotonin, which is a chemical that affects our sleeping patterns. So, we’ve found the culprit, right?
Actually, no. Remember, lots of foods we eat contain tryptophan, other than meat, like eggs, fish, soy and spinach and I certainly don’t feel like dropping into a deep sleep eating tilapia. What makes eating turkey on Thanksgiving any different?
Well, on top of turkey, we’re eating a lot of carbs, which triggers a release of insulin. These carbohydrates give us a higher amount of insulin than normal and with all the pumpkin pies, Snickerdoodles and pudding, we’re probably getting the highest levels of insulin we’re had all year.
The increase in insulin is important because insulin helps amino acids to cross the blood-brain barrier, and thus, we get a rise in serotonin and melatonin in our brain. Because these both regulate sleep, we’re at a higher risk of getting a food baby and knocking out. Eating a lot can make you tired too, just saying. The real culprit isn’t turkey or tryptophan, it’s insulin (dun dun dun).
I know, you feel betrayed and think that there’s no way to escape a food coma, so just give in. Unbutton your pants one notch, take a nap if needed and go back for dessert, because who wants to miss out on the one day a year where you can eat lots of turkey and gravy and top it off with the best dessert ever, flan (if you’re in Miami).
If you still feel like you’ve been jipped since you can’t call out the turkey anymore, don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s gotten tricked. Charlie Brown feels the same way about tradition, but while you’re watching, sit back, put a pillow over your stomach (and welcome that food baby), while you have another piece of pie, just for kicks
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
We’ve all heard it—we’re in the electronic age. From finding out that our friends from home are engaged at 21 on Facebook, to following people on Instagram who have killer style (but they don’t even go here), or reppin’ some of the cutest DIY posts your friends have pinned for Thanksgiving.
The thing is, well, isn’t it kind of odd that people can see what we do and like what we’ve liked? It’s not for us, but if you think about it, it totally is. Even companies like Hulu and Facebook are getting real personal with advertising products and websites that are geared to what you like.
If you’re ready for another revolutionary advertising tactic, Japan has it for you. Neurocam and its new app were introduced at the Human Sensing 2013 conference in Yokohoma, Japan.
Advertisers can tell what we like based on a headband system that attaches to your head and holds an iPhone next to your temple. Hitting the soft spot, huh? Well, this headset knows you better than you know yourself with the help of EEG sensors.
The camera on the headset records whatever you’re viewing, so when you see those Jimmy Choos and can’t contain yourself, the sensors will pick up on those spikes of interest through the brain scan.
The spike value ranges from one to 100, so once the data gets to a value of 60, the EEG sensors will claim whatever you’re viewing as something of interest to you. That’s when the phone’s camera will start to record, in five-second GIFs, the image you’re viewing (like a Tardis teapot in commemorating the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary).
I told you it’s a little weird, right? Well, advertisers are going to use this to their advantage, which I don’t have too much of a problem with, but my wallet just might. Advertising titan Dentsu is supporting the Neurocam through Dentsu ScienceJam. They think it can help to determine what goods interest people and also help in urban development planning.
The thing is, when I see a commercial for the Kia Soul while I’m on YouTube and literally scream because I’m obsessed with those Kia hamsters, only I see this side of me. I don’t know how I would feel if Kia can actually see how many times I’ve watched the commercial because it’s right there on the screen when I’m browsing online. I’m sure they’ll keep showing the commercial to me until I buy the car…oops.
Don’t you just want to buy the car now? Yep, totes.
By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
Despite all these issues I have with nature, I moved from Miami, Fla. to Boston, Mass. for school, but also because of the culture and the four seasons. I may not extend my walks too far from the Boston University bubble as often as I would like, but for some reason, being outside and experiencing the wind on my face, the leaves wavering on tree branches and all the colors of fall clears my mind, if only for a while, but nature has that wonderful affect on me.
Yes, I’m still in the city, but when I get away from the city for a bit, I have a clearer outlook on life and I’m able to focus more when I hit the books or when I have to make a long term decision.
To those who actually go on trips to ski and hike, kudos to you. It’s just not for me, but regardless of the type of nature you intake, it’s no wonder that being outside actually makes us feel good.
Don’t you kind of wish you went on a walk now before having that fifth cup of coffee now? I’ll help you out. The answer is yes.
Researchers have found that when we look at natural landscapes, it can make us more focused in our decision-making processes. In the study, researchers created two different slideshows, one that had natural landscapes and the other that was in a city environment.
Volunteers had to view either the natural or the urban slideshow, in which they listened to an audio that tried to convince the volunteers to become immersed with the landscape they viewed. After all the volunteers watched the slideshow, the researchers offered them either 100 euros ($135) now or a larger sum in 90 days, in which the price would increase in 10 euro ($13) increments until the volunteer chose that new reward over the initial sum.
Here’s where it gets interesting: the volunteers that saw the more natural slideshow rather than the concrete urban slideshow were more willing to wait for an extra 20, 30 or 40 euros. And thus, researchers hinted that the participants who viewed the natural photos were able to make more logical decisions and made them more open to the idea for a delayed gratification.
To make sure that this wasn’t a hoax, the researchers did subsequent experiments with the same idea of showing natural beauty versus a concrete setting and then offered immediate or delayed financial awards to three groups. Like clockwork, participants who were immersed by nature were more inclined to get the delayed future award.
According to the research that appeared this week in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, this implies that those with exposure to natural scenes tend to care more for the future. Kind of scary since we live in this great, giant city called Boston, but there are ways to get your daily dose of nature.
According to researchers, it is possible that on a psychological standpoint, nature moves at a slower pace, while life in the city is so fast paced and we want everything immediate, so we want to mimic what we see.
I’ve tried to take this study into my own hands and while I’m not planning on going fishing or mountain biking, there are many alternatives for city people, like myself, who would rather watch The Big Bang Theory reruns than wake up at 5 a.m. to see the sunrise. You could go to the Esplanade or sail on the Charles River or take a stroll in the Boston Commons. If you want to take it a step further, there’s whale watching, walking trails in the forest, the sandy Boston Harbor National Park and white water rafting.
Don’t like my ideas? You can do some research for yourself or take a hike — literally (and gain some clarity while you’re at it).
The happy camper
If you ever wanted to envision me camping…