As a child, I had headaches but I didn’t think much of it. When I was in grade five, it was a known thing that I’d get a headache by 3:30 every day.
When I was a little older, I went to the eye doctor. He was checking my eyes and asked me if I was getting headaches to which I responded the affirmative. He told me that those are migraines based on my sensitivity to the light. He suggested that I stay away from certain foods like nuts, seeds, cheese and wines.
Although I became more cautious and tried to avoid those food items, I was too young to understand the magnitude of what the doctor had told me.
Navigating in the dark
When I was in tenth or eleventh grade, my migraines increased dramatically. I couldn’t go a week without missing days of school. They started to come more frequently and increasing in length and intensity.
My pediatrician referred me to see a neurologist who conducted various exams to make sure that there was nothing else serious going on.
My mother wanted me to hold off on starting a prescription medicine. My uncle is a doctor and my aunt gets migraines too. We sent them the prescriptions to look at. They suggested trying to find another solution as this one can make you become more forgetful.
By my first year of CEGEP, I was experiencing waves of extended periods of time where I’d be fine and then missing more than three weeks at a time because of migraines. They became so debilitating that I was bed-bound. My migraines lasted more between 8-12 hours.
Migraines also include experiencing nausea, vertigo and distortion of sight. Usually I’ll experience tell-tale signs that a migraine is setting in.
It was at this point where I started taking medications. They help decrease the frequency and intensity of my migraines. It also causes side effects like brain fog which can be from the medication or the migraines.
Migraines ≠ headaches
People don’t understand the magnitude and implications of having chronic migraines. I will often be told to take Tylenol and move on with my life. This is a pretty universal response that those who experience migraines will receive.
If there was one thing I wish people would know, it would be that migraines and headaches are not the same thing. Migraines can be debilitating. When I get migraines, my eyes and head start hurting. Lights and noise become unbearable. I need to just lay down until it passes.
What is stress? According to the Mental Health foundation, stress is our body’s response to pressure related situations which can lead to physical, mental and emotional changes. When we feel like we are in danger, our bodies go into a “fight” or “flight” response. Stress can cause short term as well as long term health issues or problems. Catecholamines (including adrenaline and noradrenaline hormones) are triggered by the adrenal gland during the short term stress. Similarly, during long term stress cortisol is released and a high increase of cortisol leads to Cushing’s syndrome, which makes you feel tired and weak. Even though stress is unpredictable, there are many ways to control it. These include following a proper healthy diet, exercise and getting enough sleep.
Why follow a healthy diet?
Following a proper diet is very important for our body. According to Matthew J. Kuchan, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at Abbott, “Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body,” These include cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and high blood pressure. According to the VeryMindwell article, coffee does boost your body immediately but it also increases the cortisol levels in your body. Fish and nuts contain omega 3-fats, which play a role in the regulation of mood. In an article published by the journal Nutrients, researchers Jiwon Kim and Jihye Kim have found that green tea which contains an amino acid, called theanine, which acts as an anti-stress benefit for people fighting with depression. At the end of the day, it is very important to take a proper healthy diet.
Feel Fresh, Feel Good
The most important factors in reducing stress is exercise. We already know that exercise is good for weight loss and improving muscle strength but did you know it also helps in the production of endorphins? According to an Exercise and Depression article, their role is to reduce pain and increase positive feelings. The famous philosopher, “Saint Thomad Aquanias”, mentioned that, “All men need leisure”. Exercise is a way to distract ourselves from the daily grind of our lives. When we are involved in some type of physical activity, our minds are relaxed and we are able to think freely.
Connection between Stress and Sleep levels
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is mandatory. As per the National Sleep foundation guidelines, an adult needs 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Usually if our cortisol level increases during the night, it will disrupt the release of melatonin. This hormone controls the sleep-wake cycle. In an article written by Sleepscore, research shows that lack of sleep can make you more impulsive, and more sensitive to negative stimuli. Sleep deprivation can give rise to stress in a number of ways. It is our job to give our brain some rest so that we can be active and improve our concentration, thinking skills.
Small efforts lead to good results
In order to be able to reduce or overcome stress, we should begin to follow a healthy diet meal, perform some sort of physical activity and most importantly get the right amount of sleep. These small efforts will allow your brain to think freely. You will feel confident and full of energy.
Imagine that whenever you hear violins, you taste cheesecake. Or that your dad’s voice is a pale green. Or that whenever you see the letter “B”, you feel a tickle in your right hand. Sounds crazy right? Actually, this can be the way that a small percentage of the population experiences things. The condition they have is called synesthesia. It’s a rare neurological condition, affecting approximately four (4) percent of the population, in which one sense is joined with another. Synesthesia combines objects such as letters, shapes, numbers or words with a sensory perception such as smell, color or flavor. Every synesthete (someone with synesthesia) has their own unique perceptions. Natalia Feldman is someone who has synesthesia. For her, numbers have colors as well as personalities. Feldman graciously agreed to an interview so that we can get a personal look at just what living with this condition is like.
When did you first find out that you had synesthesia?
My synesthesia is so innate to me that I never really thought to question it. However, I guess you could say that I realized I was different in my first year of middle school, when my teacher mentioned synesthesia. She said that certain people see colors when they hear music. It was then that I realized that numbers don’t have colors and personalities for everyone. It has made things like math and physics a bit challenging because when I have numbers and colors that I like more, sometimes I’ll want to use answers that aren’t necessarily correct because my brain prefers their colors.
Can you please tell me a bit about your synesthesia?
The number one is red. For me, one is powerful and confident, a leader. The number two is yellow. It’s bubbly and cute, kind of like that dorky friend you have that trips on air, super sweet and friendly. However, it can also be a little aloof at times. The number three is a burnt orange. It’s more serious. Three can be happy and outgoing, but also has some darker aspects to it. The number four is a nice fuchsia. I feel like I associate myself the most with the number four. Four is bright, bubbly and excited to meet people. Four is also sassy and outgoing, and knows what it wants. The number five is green. It’s kind of quirky and pretty calm by nature, because it’s always between 1 and 10. So, as the middle point, it has to be pretty neutral. It’s very humble and reserved (like a teacher who’s trying to be as objective as possible). The number six is a lovely lilac-lavender color. Very soft-natured and sweet, like a little old lady. The number seven is more of a spunky teal or turquoise, very bright and vibrant. It really wants to be something else, like an eight or a nine. When I think of tests I’m never really happy with a seventy- I’d prefer an eighty or ninety. As a result, I see seven as trying to compensate for that. The number eight is this beautiful royal blue, sometimes a soft blue. Eight is the kind of person that you don’t fully understand, but you enjoy their presence nonetheless. It’s cool, neutral, and noble. Whenever I think of royalty, I think of blue. The number nine can be fuchsia. I feel like it takes elements of four a lot, but it’s more of a darker purple. In terms of personality, think Ursula from The Little Mermaid. She’s very clever, but only has her own interests in mind. A bit like number four’s evil twin. Zero’s color really depends on what it’s next to. It tends to take on the color of other numbers. On its own, however, it’s a white or peach. Some numbers look nice together, but some don’t.
Do you have any favorite numbers?
I like the number four, number one, number five and number eight. Six too, sometimes.
Do you find that this affects your interactions with other people in any way?
No, not really. Sometimes I’ll think things like “Oh, that’s major number one energy”, a little like what people do with the zodiac signs, but I never say it out loud.
How do you “see” the color? Do you actually see it in front of you or is it just in your head?
A bit of both, I would say. Sometimes when I look at the numbers, I’ll see them in a very cartoonish way (with a black outline all around). However, most of the time, it’s in my head.
Does your synesthesia make things difficult in any way?
Sometimes! Which is due to the number favoritism that I described earlier. For example, on a multiple-choice test, if I don’t really know what the answer is, I’ll be inclined to pick the one that has the colors I like better.
Does anyone else in your family have synesthesia?
I don’t think so, however, I’ve never really asked.
What are some misconceptions you’ve encountered about your condition?
Some people assume how I experience the conditions of synesthesia based on an article that they’ve read, so I have to explain to them that every synesthete has their own unique perceptions. With that said, what they read won’t necessarily match up with the way that I experience things.
How does your synesthesia affect you on a day-to-day basis, like when buying groceries or doing the laundry?
When I go shopping, sometimes I won’t mind paying more for something if I like the colors or the numbers, so I may not be buying the cheapest option! The washer and dryer that I use have a number two (2) on them, and so whenever I do laundry I always get really happy. But it’s funny because the number is actually written in green.
Does that bother you?
No, I just feel like they did things wrong, and they should have hired me to do it! (Laughs) Thank you!
Mathematics students unveil formula for the perfect pancake.
HAS THIS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU?
Have you ever been in this situation? You stand in front of your stove as black smoke begins to rise from the skillet resting on the stove-top? Charred remains of what was once pancakes have now turned black. You throw up your hands in despair! Defeated by breakfast’s greatest food. Or, have you ever found yourself with pancakes so flat that they might as well have been one-dimensional? Have you ever wished that you could achieve the perfect pancake with a little less work? Well, wish no more, because science is here to save the day.
THERE IS A FORMULA FOR EVERYTHING
There’s a formula for everything, perfect pancakes included. What do you mean, you ask? Well, in honor of Pancake Day (which is Tuesday, February 25), mathematics students from Sheffield University’s Maths Society came up with what they consider to be the formula for the perfect pancake.
THE PERFECT FORMULA
With help from the Meadowhall Shopping Center, and some trial and error, the students worked out the formula. It takes several variables into account, such as the size of the pan used, how many pancakes you’d like to make, and how thick you want them to be.
Gaby Thompson, president of the University of Sheffield’s Maths Society (SUMS), says, “cooking is full of scientific and mathematical formulas, so when Meadowhall approached us to see if we’d like to join in the fun, we jumped at the chance.”
“Cooking is a fun and innovative way to demonstrate how maths can be used and explored in everyday life and we hope by developing this formula it will encourage more people to engage with the subject and help to combat maths phobia.”
Gaby Thompson, president of the University’s Maths Society
The formula has been chef-tested and goes as follows:
It turns out that science and math have a wide range of applications that are not solely limited to your kitchen appliances- they can be applied to food, too!
Disclaimer: the author has not tried out this formula. Any imperfections are at the reader’s discretion.