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Calming Counts

The third technique is called Calming Counts. It has two benefits over Calming Breath.

First, it takes longer to complete: about 90 seconds instead of 30 seconds. You will be spending that time concentrating on a specific task instead of paying so much attention to your worried thoughts. If you can let time pass without such intense focus on your fearful thoughts, you will have a better chance at controlling those thoughts.

Second, Calming Counts, like Natural Breathing and the Calming Breath, help access the Calming Response. That means you will be giving yourself 90 seconds to cool your body out and quiet your thoughts. Then, after that time has passed, you will less anxious than you were.

Here's how this skill works:

Calming Counts

  1. Sit comfortably.
  2. Take a long, deep breath and exhale it slowly while saying the word "relax" silently.
  3. Close your eyes.
  4. Let yourself take ten natural, easy breaths. Count down with each exhale, starting with "ten."
  5. This time, while you are breathing comfortably, notice any tensions, perhaps in your jaw or forehead or stomach. Imagine those tensions loosening.
  6. When you reach "one," open your eyes again.