‘The 5 Second Rule’ by Mel Robbins

Written by: My Chakra Life - Sep 8th, 2020

I came across the 5 Second Rule a couple of years ago while I was researching ways to help me get up in the morning.

Getting up has never been easy for me.

Even when I was a baby, I would sleep for eight to ten hours straight and cry if someone woke me up!
Yes – I’m looking at you Michael (my big brother who never slept!).

Cue years of embittered battles with my poor mother as she tried to coax/force/drag/bribe me out of bed every morning for school!

This continued into adulthood, and as I became responsible for my own time-keeping, I developed an intimate relationship with the snooze button, was always in a rush to get to work, did my make-up at the traffic lights – you get the picture!

Having worked for myself for the last 10 years, the battles are different – they are mainly with myself.
The negotiations for just five more minutes… no-one will know if I’m not at my desk by a certain time… and the self-defeating “no-one cares what I do anyway”.

But, once I started on my personal development and spiritual journey, I came to recognise early mornings as a magical time.

Peaceful, brim-full of potential, calm, and serene. All the things I wanted to be, have, and do each day.

And when I could force myself out of bed and glimpse this world of possibility?
When I do get up early and complete my morning routine?

Everything from that moment flows so much better – and I mean everything.

I am happier, calmer, more productive – heck, even my hair looks better!!

So, I began to think… If I love this time for myself so much… If I know it serves me and my day… If I can think and act from a place of calm clarity… If every day is a great hair day…


Woman waking up and bossing it

Why is it still so difficult for me to get up?!

As humans, we are hard-wired to cling to pleasure and move away from pain. There is lots of scientific research on the subject (this article is easy to understand and makes a lot of sense!), but basically proposes all mammals have ‘Reward Neurons’ and ‘Punishment Neurons’ which motivate us to move towards reward or away from punishment.

Imbalances in these neurons may result in heightened motivation to move away from pain or lack of interest in seeking out pleasure.

In the case of anxiety disorders, the latest research suggests “Those of us who are prone to generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) often go to extreme lengths to avoid situations that seem threatening.” Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today.

Could it be over-sensitive ‘Punishment Neurons’ leading to fight, flight or freeze behaviours? Are we super-hardwired to avoid ‘punishment’ (or the potential negative outcomes we may consciously or subconsciously associate with a situation or activity)?

In a balanced brain, most people are prepared to endure some pain in order to receive the reward.

For example, I went to an online networking meeting yesterday.

I knew it would be great for my business; I would have a lovely time chatting to people; and it would aid my continuing anxiety recovery (reward). I also knew I would probebly experience uncomfortable physical symptoms before and potentially during; I might have a panic attack and have to leave; or the whole experience might be too overwhelming for me (the pain/punishment).

I’ve spoken before about my belief that we need to accept some short-term discomfort in order to create long-term recovery – if you want to recover from anxiety, you need to get comfortable with being a little bit uncomfortable!


Courage - Brene Brown


So, I ‘had a word with myself’ and decided I was able to accept and endure the potential pain in order to experience the benefits.

And I’m really glad I did!

I had a great time and feel amazing because I pushed through the discomfort – and I’m not going to lie, it was uncomfortable at the start. I proved to my subconscious mind that I don’t need to panic in situations like that.

I am a powerhouse of confidence today!

‘Wow, Kathryn, that’s a lot of science just to get you out of bed in the morning!’

So, the question remains, when I know there are so many benefits to getting up early, why is it still so difficult to endure the initial pain of getting up?


Triggers - the search for something to blame

This is where the 5 Second Rule comes in…

I had seen a couple of Mel Robbins’ videos and her TedTalk where she briefly mentions the 5 second rule, so I thought I would take a look at the book.

One of the sub-titles is:

“If you can count to 5, you can change your life”.

Wow! I mean, I can totally count to five! Have been able to for ages!

It seems so simple, but there is real science behind it and Mel goes into that in the
opening sections of the book.

Basically, counting down from five (The 5 Second Rule) creates a deadline, a momentum towards an inevitable act – you choose the act – but the countdown is the same.

It takes away the ‘negotiation’.

You countdown. You get to one. You do ‘the thing’.

That’s it.

Don’t think.

As soon as you engage your ‘rational’ brain and start to think about ‘the thing’ you want to do, you create arguments for and against; your biases, fears, and anxieties come into focus and you cling to the pleasure (staying in lovely warm cosy bed) and move away from the pain (putting your feet on the cold floor, leaving your cocoon of comfort, starting the day).

Because once you do ‘the thing’, you absolutely know it was the ‘right’ thing to do!


5 Second rule alarm clock

When can I use the 5 Second Rule?

I use it in all kinds of situations – when I remember – and sometimes it creates the push I need to get going. It takes the indecision and the uncertainty away. It is an ‘absolute’.

Mel’s book is packed full of examples where people have employed the 5 Second Rule, from getting the motivation to go to the gym to doing work presentations.

Sometimes, I do the countdown and get to one and still don’t do ‘the thing’, but that’s another story – there could be genuine reasons why – maybe it’s too uncomfortable – too much of a stretch; or maybe it’s just not right for me right now.


Three simple things: how I took physical control of my anxiety

But, on the getting up thing?

This was actually the reason Mel created the 5 Second Rule – to help ease her own obsession with the snooze button!

I try to use the 5-second rule every day and I find myself ‘slamming’ my snooze button much, much less.

I take things one day at a time and every day I do get up and complete my morning routine, I find my enthusiasm for it grows. I gather momentum and get a little bit addicted to the dopamine hit I get when I congratulate myself for doing it!!!

How are you at getting up in the morning? Do you think you can use the 5 Second Rule? 

I’d love to hear if you try the 5 Second Rule and whether it helps you get the courage to do the things you want to.

If you would like to understand more about this and the other tools I use to help you get you started on the journey to transforming your relationship with anxiety drop me a line and let’s connect. Or jump into our Facebook Group and join the conversation there.


What next?

Hi there, my name’s Kathryn and I’m an Anxiety Release Coach at My Chakra Life.

My mission is to help open-minded professional women who want to transform their relationship with anxiety so they can fall back in love with their work and life.

Over the last ten years, I have honed and tweaked the tools and techniques which worked for me, into my three-stage Anxiety Release Process:

  • CONSCIOUS: gain clarity around anxious feelings, your life, and the actions that brought you here; and how you would like to feel instead.
  • CALM: understand how to access your calm inner state at will throughout your day, no matter what you face.
  • CONFIDENT: know that you are capable of living a life full of joyful awareness and feel totally assured in your ability to create it.

Why not join us in our Facebook Group – our community for creative, professional women learning to live anxiety-free, reconnect with their inner-selves, and shine in their career or business with conscious, calm, confidence.

Or you can download my guide: ‘Journal your way to CONSCIOUS, CALM, CONFIDENT‘ to give you a little ‘Consciousness Jumpstart’!

Keep up to date with our blogs and if there is anything you would like to know or anything I can help you with in relation to learning to live anxiety-free*, please let me know.

*Disclaimer: The meaning of ‘anxiety-free’ will be different to each person I work with. I further explore what anxiety-free means to me in this blog. Each client commits to attending the number of sessions and to completing the work required in each programme. Living your own anxiety-free life will be a long-term pursuit and will require continued commitment after the programme is finished.