Author Archives: Daniella Cappello

Home is where the heart is

College is evidently a difficult transition period. Many incoming freshmen have never been away from home for long, especially not months long. Homesickness is brushed off by many because they might see it as people just being weak or emotional. However, there is a science behind it. In an article written by Angela Keele, the breakdown of homesickness and our brain begins to make sense. This feeling of homesickness comes from the nostalgia that hits us. The nostalgia can be felt when listening to certain songs, looking at certain pictures, or even smelling certain smells. Basically, our limbic systems can be held responsible for most of this as they are comprised of the olfactory bulb (sense of smell) and the amygdala (responsible for emotional memory). The smell of your laundry detergent can easily bring you back to memories of your home prior to leaving for college. This nostalgia often hits hard and even results in tears (and many tears to be exact).


The professor of psychology and neuroscience as well as the director of Duke’s social psychology program, Mark Leary, additionally gives us some insight on the devastation that is homesickness. Leary discusses the “purpose” homesickness serves in the world today. This purpose is “…to deter us from leaving supportive groups and environment.” (Leary in 2014) However, homesickness is obviously telling us to do the exact opposite. Our minds tell us to find our ways back home to familiar settings when we feel out of place. This mental pain can be as detrimental as physical pain but it demands that we stay strong and ultimately end up okay.

With that being said, there is no defined “cure” regarding homesickness. Of course making friends, adjusting within the new environment, and getting involved can help though. Staying positive and connecting with friends can additionally help an enormous amount as well.


Midnight snacks=better than afternoon snacks

Late night cravings. Why does everything taste better at night? Why do we munch of random snacks when we aren’t even particularly hungry? I constantly find myself rummaging through my snack drawers at night trying to think of yummy concoctions in order to satisfy my cravings. But why?

Sometimes this late night hunger derives from boredom. Other times it could be from nutritional imbalance in which case your body will send hunger signals at night. More specifically, our bodies release certain hormones that influence the beginning of the late night munching. The hormone cortisol tells the liver to release sugar and when we stay awake we tend to eat in order to make up for the blood sugar drop. Another example is the hormone gherkin, otherwise known as the “hunger hormone”. This hormone is produced more at night when our body stops releasing leptin. When ghrelin is released our minds automatically turn to calories for help and satisfaction.

When it comes to the unhealthy vs healthy snacks, our minds in their sleepy states lose the decision making skills we possess during the day therefore resulting in choosing unhealthier choices. To stay away from these late night cravings try to drink more water at night, or simply try to fall asleep.


Stay away from the snooze button

Those late nights and early mornings are really a killer combination. Most of us snooze the alarm until late afternoon (on the days we do not have class). For me, this is every Tuesday and Thursday. My first class begins at 1:35 and I have gotten used to sleeping in until 12. However, I do not feel as energized as I hope to each time I wake up around noon. Instead I feel sluggish and I long for an extra hour to lay in bed. I’ve been blaming this on my recent lack of sleep in general, but perhaps there is a scientific explanation behind it.

Dr. Michael J Breus in his article with Huffington Post informs us that our body follows a sleep-wake cycle called the circadian rhythm. Just like any bodily pattern, our sleep cycles can be easily interrupted. The circadian rhythm becomes interrupted when we oversleep. Oversleeping also ends up with our “body clocks” telling the wrong time, therefore resulting in fatigue or issues with sleeping patterns.


While our body follows a cycle, sleep itself is a cycle as well. Dr. breus provides us with the knowledge behind sleep cycles. He says that each cycle generally lasts for 80-120 minutes and on average we experience 5 of these cycles while we sleep. So oversleeping leads to an increase in the amount of cycles which often leads to waking up within the middle of a cycle. Waking up in the middle of a cycle, such as REM, causes you to feel pretty awful when you wake up.

So it really is no wonder why I’ve been feeling even more tired when I wake up. In order to keep yourself on track with your sleeping schedule it is important to go to bed and wake up generally around the same time each day.



The power of positivity

Just recently a friend of mine was told she has a malignant tumor in her stomach. My parents kept drilling it into my mind that I had to stay positive and help her to stay positive as well. Of course I agree with positivity lifting your mood but could it really result in healing? I was willing to find out though.

Dr. Deepak Chopra writes in a CNN article about the positive thinking in relation to healing. Of course just thinking cannot cure you but it can certainly help. Chopra discusses thinking being “real” medicine. The placebo effect allows us to realize that this to be correct. The placebo effect basically allows someone to believe the drug given to them will allow them to feel better even though it may not be a real drug. So while a patient is in their hospital bed, Dr. Chopra reveals that they can often trigger this said effect by themselves. However, people will continue to argue the effectiveness of this. Although it becomes difficult, thinking is obviously the most important part of this process, and that in itself becomes increasingly difficult. Simply being able to think positively can even serve for a decline in blood-pressure and stress levels.

I was scrolling through Facebook and came across a video that was shared by a friend. This video showed a cancer patient happily dancing to a trending new song. Attached to the video is an article written by the patient. She includes that you should make the most of the bad situations and that laughter is the best medicine. Hearing this coming from the actual patient and not a scientist reviewing the situation proves how powerful positivity is. She has the power to sit in her bed and sulk or get up and make the best of it. Evidently, smiling and having a good time will prevent you from feeling worse.

So while just thinking cannot provide a cure or overall healing, it definitely serves as an aid during the process.


Does looking good help you to feel good?

The typical college outfit goes as follows: “sweatpants, hair tied, chillin with no make-up on” (yes, these are lyrics from Drakes song “Best I Ever Had”). Seriously though, this is beyond accurate. You wake up, hastily rummage through your closet, and throw on a random outfit. In the midst of your tired wake-up, a nice outfit simply does not seem to matter. However, how many days do you stroll around campus in your tired look feeling sluggish and out of it? I know I definitely do.

I was discussing the topic at hand with my mom and she simply said to me “look good feel good.” I have never thought of it that way. So let’s look at the science behind feeling good while looking good.

Studies have shown that your mood evidently does influence the way you dress. Feeling sad or tired could convince you to dress in baggy sweatpants. However, while feeling down you should actually dress up. Putting on a nice top or even comfy jeans could potentially lift your spirits.

Not only does dressing nice adjust your mood, but the color of your clothing could additionally have an impact. Believe it or not, each color links to a certain mood description as well. Red demands attention and power while blue has a softer tone and could help to fight stress. Yellow, or lighter shades like orange, definitely perpetuates happiness so wearing yellow could even lighten your mood.


Of course we are all going to have those days where sweat pants just feel so inviting. Looking good simply allows us to strut around with more confidence. Step out of your comfort zone on days like those and let your mind work its magic. Next time you wake up feeling sluggish and down, throw on that yellow top and smile.





The gift of giving


From a young age we are taught to share and we are taught that happiness is important. You put those two together and can find yourself spreading cheer through the gift of giving. Watching somebody smile as you hand them a gift immediately allows a sense of happiness to overcome you.


Social psychologist Liz Dunn and her colleagues performed experiments on several groups of people. In one controlled experiment they handed an envelope of money to students from the University of British Columbia. The students could either spend the money on themselves or spend the money on someone else. Both options had a 5 pm deadline. As discussed here, it was reported that the students who spent the money on others were happier than the ones who spent it on themselves. The euphoria that overwhelms you after making someone else happy is incomparable to say the least. It is amazing how the human mind works. We can be selfish and selfless all at the same time. We know that by providing for others it is making them and ourselves happy all at once.


The Science of Generosity: Why Giving Makes You So Happy

Dance: a FULL body workout

The constant argument of “Is dance a sport?” is inevitably endless. It is obvious how physically demanding dance is. The conditioning, stretching and practicing takes a toll on the body yet outsiders still seem to experience confusion when asked about the athleticism dance involves. So yes dance is a huge workout for the body, but did anyone ever take into consideration the effects dance has on the brain?


In addition to the awesome physical workouts, a dancer is simultaneously working his/her brain just as hard. According to Scott Edwards from the Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute letter, “Dance, in fact, has such beneficial effects on the brain that it is now being used to treat people with Parkinson’s disease, a progressive neurological movement disorder.” He goes on to include the several regions of the brain that are being activated through dancing. These regions are the motor cortex, somatosensory cortex, basal ganglia, and cerebellum. Each region controls something whether it be the planning or control of movement or even hand-eye coordination. So not only are various parts of the body moving but the brain is working just as hard by sending signals and working to keep up.

Edwards also briefs a study from the New England Journal of Medicine done by researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine shows that dance lowers the risk of dementia more than other various physical activities. The mental effort mixed with the social interaction stimulates the brain. As a dancer, I additionally know that we learn movements on the right side and immediately have to reverse them on the left. This is evidently easier said than done and doing so also stimulates the brain, causing it to utilize majority of the regions.

Basically, a dancer is not only prancing around and keeping those pointed. A dancer is giving the brain a demanding workout as well.

Works cited:

Read this (B)efore becoming a vegetarian

Very recently a friend of mine changed her life in two drastic ways. 1: she became a vegetarian. 2: she went off to a college 8 hours away from home. These two things seem to have no correlation whatsoever. Unfortunately, my friend is experiencing extreme homesickness and can’t seem to figure out how to feel better. Out of nowhere my friend called me the other day and shared how her mom thinks her newfound “depression” is stemming from the lack of meat going into her system. We found this to be extremely strange and bursted into laughter, but now I am actually taking this preposterous suggestion into consideration.


It is no question that we feel hungry which leads to anger and anxiousness, we eat and we feel satisfied and happy again. Our moods, more often than not, depend on our hunger and more specifically what we are eating. So what about depriving ourselves of the essential nutrients meats possess? The potential sadness, fatigue and overall bitterness a vegetarian might experience can very well be due to the lack of vitamins. Or more commonly known as a vitamin deficiency. By depriving the human body of meat you are ultimately depriving yourself of vitamin B12. This is not like catching a cold and downing a glass of orange juice for that compensation of vitamin C. Lacking Vitamin B12 can seriously lead to depression, paranoia, delusions, and even loss of memory.

So maybe my friends’ mom was not so far-fetched like we thought. Perhaps by taking a vitamin b12 pill on the daily will suffice, but if not it is probably best to introduce meat back into her life.




Dance > Science

Hi SC200! My name is Daniella Cappello and you guessed it, I am not a fan of science. i am from Central NJ and have been dancing since the age of two. Like many of you, I am enrolled in this class to get a general science out of the way. To be honest I did not know what this class entailed until the first day and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It was relieving to find out I will not be suffering through a lab or memorizing the planets.

Although science and I do not typically get along, I always find myself questioning different aspects of science. For example, is there a cure to cancer? Do aliens exist? Questions like these and many others constantly circle in my head which is why I am actually looking forward to discussing them in class.

Now as I mentioned earlier, I will not be digging deep into science for my major. When I am dancing I feel as though I am able to conquer the world. While in science I feel confused and out of place.