Recovery Tip of the Week: The 90 Second Rule for All Emotions

The great thing about emotions is that (while it may not always seem like it) you actually create them. That’s right, your thoughts produce physical reactions — what we often call emotions. That racing heart, that shortness of breath, those sweaty palms… all of that comes from how you are perceiving a given situation.

The cool thing about emotions is that scientifically speaking, the chemicals you brain releases that create all of those responses only last 90 seconds. That’s right, the surge of any emotion naturally intensifies and then recedes that quickly. Or, until you have another thought that perpetuates the cycle so that it begins over and over again.

The good news is, you can reclaim control: The next time you feel the surge of emotion — don’t freak out. Instead, take some deep calming breaths and slowly count to 90, knowing that by the time you’re done the chemical surge will reduce and the intensity will be gone.

This Week On Your Life After Trauma Radio:

Peter LevineJoin me on Thursday night 7:05-8pm EST. 

I’ll be interviewing Peter A. Levine (author of the iconic trauma recovery book, WAKING THE TIGER) about Somatic Experience technique.

For more info and to listen live, click here.

Want ideas about how to deal with depression, change, and healing? Want to know how to find treatments that work and proof that your past can be overcome? Listen to past episodes of YOUR LIFE AFTER TRAUMA here.


  1. I love this one. 90 seconds to breathe, and then try and relax.

  2. I love this one also, every time I feel stuck in a dooming panic attack I remember what you’ve said about accepting it, breath slowly, relax, and know that it will end without me dieing in the meantime! Now to know the 90 second rule,…. it feels like those things will be much easier to do… there is possibly an end after 90 seconds, if I can allow that to happen. Thankyou so much… again! I don’t know you, but I do love you more than any dr!!!! You give us hope…

  3. @Tina — You DO know me: we’re survivors; we know each other very well. :)

    So glad you like the tip. I find it really has great impact. And what I love the most: it reminds us who’s really in charge: we are!



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