Managing Stress: Techniques for Relief

Juggling school, work and relationships or commitments can be overwhelming. Stress can sometimes creep up in the most unexpected ways like a panic attack in the middle of your shift. Chronic long term stress can trigger immune system response. The immune system response triggers inflammation which is the perfect environment to possibly develop autoimmune diseases, cancer and other types of physical or mental disorders in the long run.

First, we must understand what is stress and the underlying mechanisms to help understand how to manage stress.

What is Stress?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines it as “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation”.

What triggers stress?

The amygdala, which is responsible for your fear of snakes or fear of being late for work, sends signals to your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls how much hormones get produced by the body, hormones that control body temperature, heart rate and hunger. 

Therefore, the nervous system gets triggered when we encounter a stressor (physical or mental). When you get wired or alert during an encounter with stress, it’s the sympathetic nervous system responsible for making sure you have enough energy to deal with the encounter (fight or flight response). 

The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for doing the opposite. To help you calm down once there is no sense of threat. 

In brief, stress is essentially the body’s reaction to encountering a perceived threat. The threat causes a cascade of systemic responses at a biological level that end up influencing our mental state.. 

How can we leverage what we know to help us manage stress?

Immediate Relief

The Sigh

Double inhale, long exhale triggers the parasympathetic nervous system by providing a brute force method to relax the body through breathwork.  

Vagus Nerve Reset

SInce body follows the mind and the mind follows the body, you can stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system through touch and awareness to help mitigate stress. 

Move physical location

Our body contextualizes our perceived threats to its surroundings. Meaning you can help alleviate some stress by physically moving to a new location. I typically try not to study in one place for more than 2 hours. After a two hour study session, I move to a different area of the school or a local public library to help mitigate stress or fatigue from long study sessions. 

Medium to Long Term Relief


Daily meditation practice will help you learn how to refocus your mind and help you develop mental resilience. Practice 5 minutes a day for a week, then increase 5 minutes every following week. Goal is to be able to meditate for 30 mins daily, you can break it up to two 15 mins sessions but for best results try to stick to a 30 mins session. 


There are way too many studies on the benefits of exercise. Physical exercise can dampen build up of stress so physical activity like taking a walk to the park can help relieve some stress.

I personally workout hard enough to trigger the body’s pleasure response to the (workout) pain. You get waves of pleasure after a strenuous workout that can help mitigate your perceptions of stress for a few days.

Exercise also helps increase blood supplies to the hippocampus, the perfect natural supplement to help remember what you study. Check out Dr.Wendy Suzuki’s Ted Talk on how exercise changes the brain.

Daily Todo List

Bad time management adds more stress to an already stressful day. I have found that creating a daily todo list habit will help you develop better time management skills in the long run. Creating tasks for the future will ultimately give you a sense of control and help in planning around your perceived daily stressors.

Connect with people in your social circles

Ultimately, humans are social creatures. We cannot live or learn without the work of other people. Studies show long term social isolation alters neuropeptides that regulate social anxiety, influencing your sensitivity to stress. We gain pleasure and buffer stress when we connect with the people around us. Take the time to connect with your community to help you endure stressful life moments.





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