Hospitals are flooded with patients as Covid-19 cases surge to unprecedented heights. Millions are unemployed. And parents are at their wits' end while trying to teach and work. There are science-backed ways to short-circuit feelings of panic and helplessness, even in a pandemic.

Iran PressHealth: Here are five expert-vetted ways on how to put an end to stress and take back control.

Simply stop and breathe

Just stop and breathe -- but deeply. There are a variety of deep-breathing techniques experts recommend, but "the best research is behind six in, six out," Ackrill said.

Take a deep breath to a slow count of six, making sure that you can feel your stomach rise with your hand as it fills with air.

Release your breath to the same slow count of six. Pause and begin again. Repeat until you feel your body relax.


Learn your triggers

The best time to practice deep breathing or other relaxation techniques is before you're in full panic mode. That means learning your body's telltale cues -- the early signs that stress is taking hold. Perhaps your shoulders get tight, your neck tense, your stomach sours or you have the beginnings of a headache.


Move in slow motion

One way to interrupt the stress circuits in the brain is to literally slow down your movements, according to Michelle Anne, a certified professional coach with training in neuroscience and leadership.

Doing so allows your body to move from the sympathetic system's fight-or-flight to the parasympathetic relaxation mode, Anne said.


Stay in the present

Another way to interrupt the stress response is to ground yourself in the moment.

"Feel your feet on the floor. Feel your bottom on the chair. Be aware of the heaviness. It brings you back to the present. It feels grounding.

Some Specialists recommend pressing your right arm across your chest until it presses against your left shoulder as if you're doing a stretch. It's especially useful in interpersonal conflicts when you feel yourself losing control.


Make a list

There's just too much to do -- so much that your brain can't store it all. You can feel the pressure rising as you ping-pong from one task to the other, frightened that something is falling through the cracks.

Fight back by making a list of all the items on your to-do list. Separate by work, home, school, or whatever makes sense for you -- and keep it by your side to add each new chore. The act of getting those items onto paper and out of your head is freeing, and there is the added pleasure of accomplishment when you cross off each chore from your list.

Then you can start to get curious about how you're going to get it done. That might mean asking others for help -- which is not a failure.

Still feeling stuck? One way to process your feelings is to write them out until the emotion feels captured on paper and you feel the emotional charge lessen. You can also reach out to a friend or loved one.


Practice makes perfect

Of course, the best way to make these techniques a part of your stress reduction toolkit is to practice them as often as possible. In other words, make them a habit.

Many of us were brought up thinking there's just a pill for everything and got us away from practicing some of the skills. When you learn the skills, you're ramping up your coping confidence, you're pushing yourself up that curve.