See how the 15 Minute Rule can make a difference in your life.

Waiting can be really hard to do, whether we are anticipating something pleasant, biding time until something we dread happens, or trying to avoid acting on an impulse that we will later regret.

The Fifteen Minute Rule

The Fifteen Minute Rule is a way to pass time and make the waiting easier by breaking time up into smaller segments. It can be helpful when trying to avoid making an impulsive decision or giving into temptation. You really want to call your ex, but you promised to give them space. So instead of calling when the thought pops into your head, tell yourself to wait 15 minutes. The overwhelming desire to do something you may regret later may lessen if you just make yourself wait.

The same principle applies to self-harm. If this is something you do regularly, telling yourself that you can never do it again could seem impossible. Postponing the temptation by telling yourself to wait 15 minutes might be a bit more manageable. After the 15 minutes is up, set the timer for another 15 and see if the urges decrease. By putting it off and making yourself wait for small time periods, you may be able to wean yourself from the immediate desire to self-harm when something is upsetting you.

So what do you do to help the 15 minutes pass?

Look for distractions. Put away anything that might be a temptation for you, and look for things to take your mind off of waiting. Create a distraction box...include a book, movie, pens, paper, nail polish, a deck of cards, or a journal. Use our list of 99 Coping Skills. The key is to be prepared in advance so you have some enjoyable distractions ready when you need them!

Try our 15 Minute Rule Tool.

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