Slowing Down the Clock: Regaining Our Perception of Time
I'm sitting at my desk at work looking over some papers at around 3:30 PM. As I go through the papers while in a a flow state, I get through a lot of my work with joy. I get through some of those papers and look up at the clock only to realize it's 7:00 PM. To be frank, it felt only like 1 hour but for some reason, seven times that amount actually flew by.
Now most of us would LOVE to be in a type of scenario where what you're doing, whether it's related to your career, relationships, or your health, that no matter how much time goes by, you enjoy doing those activities. The truth is, I didn't feel that way. On top of the desire for work-life balance, I wanted something even more, time.
If I were to go back 10 years, those three and a half hours would feel exactly as long as the actual time that has passed, but nowadays it feel shorter. Regardless of whether I'm wasting my time scrolling social media, or if I had an actual productive work day, it all feels the same on a temporal level. I used to feel that I had all the time in the world, but now I feel like time is becoming more an more elusive, escaping my every attempt to grasp and hold onto it.
Time is relative mentally and physically. But I'd rather it feel longer mentally, and in a good way, rather then physically in a good way. The latter means that it would take me longer to enjoy what I have little time to enjoy biologically. Could I be having a quarter-life crisis? Who knows...
Here are some things I have started doing to address my feelings towards the elusiveness of time.
🤩 Find New Things to Do
Try to do something outside of your daily routine. If you walk to your work from the same road, try a different road this time. If you haven't been to a theatre performance for ages like me, then maybe go to one. Meetup.com has many opportunities to offer to you to try and do something new with other people. As children, we are always learning something new and doing new things almost every day so every experience adds a feeling of time passing by slowly. But as we age, we do more and more routine tasks like work, eat, and sleep, without putting something new in there.
☯️ Challenge Yourself
You are a dictator of how your life goes, and you are likely always letting it go according to plan. it would be a good idea to occasionally introduce a little anarchy to your life. Prepare to lose something with the long-term mindset that you'll come out stronger from it. Those periods of pain, grit, and challenge (in moderation of course) will feel long and painful, but at the same time going through certain types of rough times and challenges will help you appreciate the time that has passed and embrace it. Letting things be the status quo may otherwise make time fly by faster which ironically makes time harder to grasp onto. There is good in bad times, and there is bad in good times.
🫀 Be Nice to Your Body
Many psychologists, psychiatrists, and people who general deal with the human psyche can tell you that not all things that are "in your head" are formed in your head. You may have heard the saying "you are what you eat". Well, if you're doing something right now like eating too much junk food, having too much coffee, and more, this could affect several aspects of your health that eventually lead you to feel mentally "not there" as time is going by. Try reducing coffee intake, and having a balanced diet which includes a variety of foods from all the food groups, including dairy, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins.
In a studyinvestigating the influence on individuals’ time perception of observing a range of foods differing in calorific content, it was found that
The more the participants reported controlling their diet, the less they overestimated the time when presented with food stimuli. The participants who controlled their diet reported being less aroused by the high-calorie food pictures, allowing the assumption that the modulation in time overestimation relies on the arousal response generated by high-calorie food pictures.
Coffee has also been found to "[accelerate] the internal biological clock, as demonstrated by shortening of the duration of an individual minute"
🧎🏻♂️ Be Present and Mindful
Going back several year of my life, I would have thought practicing any kind of meditation is some voodoo baloney, and a time sink in and of itself. The truth is, many things are going through our heads every day, and we forget that a minute has passed because those thoughts make us freeze time in our heads while real time is flowing passed us like a river. This river may suddenly seem like it's flowing faster than usual because we are stuck in our own thoughts. But that river can look like it is flowing in a calm and collected way as long as we are able to sit there, and observe our own thoughts as if we are a third-person looking in our own brains. It allows us to sit at the side of the river rather than be on it, not knowing how fast or slow time is flowing and not caring where that river of time is going to.
The overarching theme of these tips are basically to give more intentionality to what you're doing, taking a step back from your routines, and introducing challenges that would create a more richer and prolonged experience of time. I would be interested in how you make time feel more enjoyable without letting so much of it go away. Please leave a comment below!