It's probably the most common question I get on a daily basis: "Shan, oh my God, why are your hands so cold?" For the longest time, I brushed off my chilly fingers and toes as just a random quirk about my body. Little did I know, that an actual disorder was causing my frigid digits.

For the longest time, I just tried my best to ignore my cold hands...until they started to cause me serious concern and discomfort. Whether it was walking from one dorm building to another, heading back from the dining hall, or even holding a door for someone in the cold, my hands would be affected.

What was going on?

And in my case, "affected" means that my fingers begin to lock up and my skin starts to turn blue. That's right. Blue. Depending on how cold it is and how long I'm outside, sometimes only my knuckles turn blue, but other times, it looks like I just stuck my hand in a jar of grape jelly. So not cute.

As if the discoloration wasn't bad enough, when this happens, it can actually be pretty painful. The best way I can describe it is like a really intense pins and needles sensation–like your feet falling asleep magnified by ten. When this happens, I need to run my hands under hot water stat...and only after that can I curl my knuckles again and regain some feeling.

So...what the hell was happening to my hands? I was honestly just ready to give up on finding an answer and commit to wearing mittens 24/7, when my mom brought up an interesting point. My grandmother suffers from a condition called Raynaud's disease, and while true heredity hasn't been proven yet, it's not uncommon for multiple people in families to be affected.

What the heck is Raynaud's disease?

According to the Raynaud's Association, Raynaud's disease occurs when there is an interruption of blood flow to the part of the body such as the fingers, toes, nose, or ears.

These interruptions are known as "spasms," and are often brought on by the cold or emotional stress.

I was willing to buy into the idea that the cold was affecting my circulation, but stress? It definitely took a little longer to wrap my head around that one. But, the more I thought about it, the more sense it started to make.

Stress is pretty much part and parcel with the college experience, so I already had that risk factor in place to set me up for Raynaud's. And, looking more into my specific experience, first semester, I was really feeling that "sophomore slump."

Bar none, this had been my most stressful semester. Sometimes in class, my toes would get all tingly, even though I was inside and wearing socks and shoes. My symptoms had really only started to impair my mobility and pain levels this past semester, so I think it's safe to say I had a concrete explanation as to why.

So, what's a girl to do?

Generally, medication is only prescribed to those affected by Secondary Raynaud's, or, Raynaud's that has been triggered by an underlying medical condition. So for those with primary Raynaud's like me, all you can really do is wear extra layers and try to stress less.

And while not having a real medical course of action might be annoying to some people, I'm taking it in stride. I choose to think of it as an excuse to treat myself. Whether it's buying a cute new pair of mittens or taking a break from homework to hold a big mug of coffee, now at least I can say it's for health reasons!

But most importantly, figuring out my Raynaud's has forced me to confront my stress issues and take action against them. Trust me, no test is as important as being able to feel your fingers.