The Worst Three Minutes in Tony Blair's Week

Even Prime Ministers suffer from anxiety. I have some (very late) tips for Tony Blair.


Sahail Ashraf

2 years ago | 3 min read

Tony Blair was a nervous wreck for exactly three minutes most Wednesday afternoons during his time as Prime Minister. He suffered from crippling, extreme anxiety just before Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQ’s).

That’s almost every Wednesday during his time in office (1997–2007).

Not pleasant.

However, I think I could have helped him avoid that three minute ordeal.

All he had to do was live in the now.

I’ll explain everything in a minute. But first, let’s see what the problem was.

Three minutes he would dread

This is still the arena that sets the heart beating a little faster.
Tony Blair (final PMQ’s in 2007)

Blair said the moment at ‘three minutes to twelve’ (the three minutes before Prime Ministers Questions every Wednesday) were full of apprehension.

He was nervous every Wednesday morning and that last three minutes was the worst. The anxiety almost made him ill.

The sessions were often loud and combative. You can understand why he was stressed hours before they started.

But he didn’t have to be. Not if he lived in the moment.

Living in the moment allows you to avoid thinking about the past and the future.

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future. Concentrate the mind on the present moment.


Living in the moment allows you to remove stress, avoid regret and even banish depression.

It could have saved Blair an awful lot of angst if he was more able to live in the now.

But how exactly do you do this? How do you live in the now?

Well, here’s a starting point. If I was able to give him advice back then I would have pointed out the following.

Live in this moment

When you look at it logically, you have absolutely no control over the future. And you certainly can’t change the past. So to dwell on either of these is literally a waste of time.

I tried having this viewpoint today actually. I work in a stressful environment and it is so easy to feel anxious about what might happen in the next five minutes.

However, today, I reminded myself on at least five occasions that the next five minutes didn’t exist yet.

That’s powerful. And it jolted me right back into the now. Into the value of this moment.

Have no expectations

By all means, have goals. Seriously, have goals.

But don’t dwell on them. Living in the moment means that you don’t expect anything to happen. And if something good does happen, it’s simply a happy surprise.

Ditch the waiting game

This is no longer an issue. You wait for nothing. You know it will come anyway, whatever it is. So don’t wait.

Living in the moment means you experience the moment. And that’s experiencing life. By waiting for something to happen you are are literally missing minutes and hours of your life.

This soon becomes huge chunks of a life simply not experienced to the fullest. A life not lived.

Control the only thing you can control

Accept it when you come across an unpleasant situation that you cannot control. Understanding this and accepting it makes the whole problem more manageable.

The only thing you can control in such a situation is your response. By doing this, you take more ownership and it all becomes more bearable.

You can choose to live in the moment. You can choose to breathe, to smile and focus on the work.

Even world leaders have demons

Blair’s life wasn’t ruined by the three minutes to twelve issue. But he would have enjoyed his time in Westminster a little more if he had lived in the moment for those 180 seconds every Wednesday.

We all have something like those three minutes. Some of us have them every day. Think about the advice above and let at least some of it guide your daily life. I’d love to hear how it works for you.


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Sahail Ashraf

I am a writer for brands. I create copy that drives revenue and helps businesses grow. I also run an amazing website called







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