We’re all familiar with the feeling that time’s flying by. And it’s also possible you’ve found yourself wondering how you could ever slow time down. If this sounds like you, read on for some timely advice.
When you’re a kid, time seems limitless. Every day passes with syrupy slowness, and years stretch out like taffy. But as you get older, time seems to speed up. One famous theory about humans’ perception of time suggests that by age seven, half your perceived life is over. By your thirties, each year rushes by.
No wonder many conversations start with, “How is it [insert current month here] already?” If you catch yourself repeating that phrase every 30 days, read on. It’s time to train your brain to stop and smell the roses.
Try something new and exciting
One reason that time seems so limitless for kids is that almost every experience is new and exciting, and newness helps fix an experience in your memories. As you get older, routine takes over and new experiences are generally in shorter supply. When you do the same things every day (for example, eating oatmeal every morning for breakfast), your brain becomes lazy; days begin to blur together.
Adopt a beginner’s mind
We often miss creative solutions to life’s challenges, because we’re literally too smart for our own good. What if you were to see life through the eyes of a beginner? What if that could also slow the feeling of time flying by? Find out more here.)
The good news: whether you’re 20 or 50 years old, research shows that trying something new wakes up the brain. You could plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city. Or try cooking with a new ingredient, such as avocado mayo or kimchi. (If you’re looking for a great recipe for your avocado mayo, look no further than page 108.) Or spice up your relationship by changing up date night. Look for opportunities throughout the day to say “yes” to new experiences, big and small.
Meditate for 5 minutes every day
Making a special effort to notice more—in other words, practising mindfulness—can help slow your perception of time. Meditation is one of the easiest ways to do this. As a bonus, meditation may also help you sleep better, stress less, and have more self-compassion.
To do a quick mindfulness meditation
- Find a comfortable seated posture (you could use a cushion designed for meditation or sit in a comfortable chair).
- Focus your attention on your breath and on how your body moves with your inhalation and exhalation. Try not to control your breath. Instead, focus your attention on the act of breathing.
- When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.
If you’ve had trouble meditating in the past, start with just five minutes a day (using a timer is perfectly okay). Try meditating at different times of day to figure out what works for you. Mornings and early evenings often work well, as our minds tend to be less busy then.
Stress less about your to-do list
In general, studies show that time seems to pass more quickly when we feel stressed about having too much to do. You’ve probably experienced moments at work or at home when it seems like your to-do list is endless and there’s not enough time in the day to check off everything. That’s what researchers have called “time pressure.”
To alleviate time pressure, try to work smarter. Time pressure doesn’t just make days fly by: it’s been linked with higher rates of depression in working women in particular. Avoid multitasking, which can fragment your focus and reduce overall productivity.
For those times when you just have to deal with a stressful, time-sensitive situation, consider adaptogens, which reduce the damaging effects of stress and act as healthy, natural stimulants that increase your working capacity and mental performance despite fatigue.
- Panax ginseng
- Rhodiola rosea
- Siberian ginseng
Ditch your phone (sometimes)
New research shows that our growing use of technology has made us more efficient at processing information: the more we use computers, the more our minds appear to mimic them. Shouldn’t a fast-thinking, computer-like brain save us time? Yes, theoretically. But there’s a downside.
Constantly being connected to our devices appears to speed up our perception of time. In fact, in one study, just reading an advertisement for technology (in the research study, the latest iPad) was enough to speed up people’s perception of time.
Take some time away from your smartphone and laptop every week. How will you fill those internet-less hours? We’ve got a few suggestions, such as trying something new and exciting, or meditating …