Increase self-control with the 90-second rule
When faced with an unexpected situation, an upsetting or devastating event, a strong stressor, we can all feel distinct physical reactions: rapid heartbeat, flushed cheeks, ears ringing with nerves, a throbbing brain, a hot face or shaky hands... All these physical symptoms are caused by the chemicals that our brain releases in such situations that encourage us to fight, flee or freeze. In other words, it's a chance that our biological instincts give us to survive in any threatening situation.
Today, in our modern world, intense stressful situations, arguments with loved ones, boredom in traffic or waiting in long lines, disappointments or bad news that can instantly turn a peaceful day upside down, can quickly take over our system and govern our reactions. Shouting, ranting, swearing, throwing things or stomping on the floor, all of these things can happen very quickly in these situations. And as a result, our balance is disturbed; our nervous system collapses, our relationships are shaken, our motivation decreases, our stress increases, in short, many negative situations arise.
While it may seem as if all of these things inevitably find us, Dr. Taylor's 90-second rule, which he came up with as a result of his research, points out that we can do much more than react instinctively with our developed brain and explains the 90-second rule as follows:
It doesn't take more than 90 seconds for stress hormones to empty and clear your system. For example, when you feel anger in response to a situation, adrenaline rushes through your body for 90 seconds and then passes. But for most of us, the emotional response continues long after the 90 seconds have passed. This is because of the connection between our thoughts, emotions and brain chemistry. Our body stops producing stress hormones after 90 seconds only if we can get our thoughts away from everything that triggered that emotion in the first place. As long as we continue to dwell on the situation, our emotions will churn and our brain will continue to flood our body with adrenaline. So waiting for 90 seconds helps to save us from emotions that we don't want in the long run.
Yes, it actually looks quite simple. All you need to do is to take your mind away from something that triggers you, that triggers your negative emotions, for 90 seconds after you encounter it. This way, you can stop your emotional, instinctive reactions and prevent more stress hormones from taking over.
When your emotions are heightened, 90 seconds can feel like a long time. That's why Taylor recommends looking at the hands of a clock as soon as you feel your emotional response escalating. If you don't have an analog watch nearby, you can try taking your phone, turning on the stopwatch and keeping 90 seconds. Keeping track of the elapsed time may be enough to remind you to just observe the clock instead of preoccupying your mind with the intense emotion you just experienced.
If you don't think the clock will work, you can also apply the 90-second rule by just focusing on your breathing. For the full 90 seconds, do nothing but pay attention to your breathing. As you breathe, try to focus on the tension in your shoulders, the feeling of tightness in your head. Just keep concentrating on your breath and shoulders until you start to feel calmer and more sane.
Try to make use of good life practices such as mindfulness, yoga or meditation. Choose a pose or posture and try to stay in it while counting to 90 inwardly. Focus only on the practice you are doing at that moment and on the shrinking number of digits.
If you feel that these methods are not working, stimulate your mind to find your own method. What will keep you occupied for 90 seconds, help you avoid your reactions, calm you down? Go and brew a coffee, call a loved one, open the window and watch the birds, count the cars passing by or whatever comes to mind, just make sure you manage the 90 seconds in the best way possible.
By practicing the 90-second rule, you can discover how to hit the reset button in your mind and get back to where you were before the trigger. Also, by increasing your self-control, you can learn to restrain your reactions, lower your stress levels, build more constructive relationships, calm your mind, and support the proper functioning of your nervous system.