Does it Feel like Time is Moving too Quickly?

James Logie
Photo by Inside Weather on Unsplash

Do you ever notice how time seems to be flying by? I know it’s part of getting older, but the weeks seem to go by in the blink of an eye. And there may be a reason for this.

This will be a quick look at why time may indeed be moving quickly, and why this may be because of the daily monotony we face.

We’ll also look at some simple things you do each day to break up that monotony and make it feel as if time isn’t passing by so quickly.

It’s Not You — Time Really Is Moving Quicker

If you’ve been feeling this way, you can know you’re not alone. And there are a few logical reasons why you feel like this.

The first is the older you get, the smaller a period of time becomes. If you’re 4, each year is 25% of your life. That’s a lot. But if you’re 40, one year is only 2.5% of your life.

That may explain why the years seem to whip by.

Harvard has looked at this and points out that as we age, our processing time slows. This makes us perceive fewer ‘frames per second,’ and more actual time passes.

The other problem that makes time appear to move so quickly is living a repetitive life. It’s great to have consistency, but if you follow the same routine day in, day out, it can also feel like time moves in a blur.

This is because an unchanging routine doesn’t provide any mental stimulation. There is nothing to challenge the mind, and it’s like we run on autopilot.

A new and fun moment may seem like it goes quickly, but it provides us with more experiences and memories. The new experience and memory actually create a deeper impression of time.

So, it’s good to have daily consistency, but if you want to break up the monotony — and try to make time slow down a bit — you’ll want to add in novel experiences each day.

These daily changes don’t have to be huge, but just enough to stimulate your brain instead of it being on autopilot.

Here are five small things you can do each day to create more mental stimulation and create that deeper impression of time to slow it down.

1. Take a New Route to Work

You probably know your route to work or school so well you could do it with your eyes closed. I’d suggest you not do that, but find some alternative routes to throw into the mix.

You can exercise your brain by simply making a few different turns each day that still get you to your destination.

A study from 1997 showed that London taxi drivers had more brain activity when they took new routes with more scenery and landmarks. They could recall more of what they saw on the route compared to taking their regular, unremarkable routes.

It’s all about creating those new memories and experiences for your brain, and a simple thing like a route change accomplishes that.

2. Park in a New Place Each Day

We’re creatures of habit — no surprise there — and we usually park in the same spots whether it’s at work or if you’re out shopping and doing errands.

Instead of mindlessly pulling into the same spot, switch it up and find a new place to park.

Speaking of parking, here’s some interesting research I stumbled across while writing this article. The way we park can reveal delayed gratification.

Shaomin Li, a professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia, noticed parking differences in several countries. He found that in China, 88% of drivers reverse into a spot when they park. In the U.S., it’s just 6%.

The idea is reverse parking is hard at first, but when you leave, you simply drive out. They do the hard thing first for the delayed gratification.

We do the easy thing first and deal with the harder issue of backing out when we leave.

This delayed gratification through parking may be something you want to throw in the mix to create some daily change.

3. Listen to a New Type of Music

Music is great for brain stimulation and creativity, but if you listen to the same thing over and over, it may not be as stimulating as it once was.

This is a good time to expose yourself to new kinds of music. Johns Hopkins Medicine has shared the benefit of music for years. It’s a great way to:

  • reduce anxiety
  • lower blood pressure
  • minimize pain
  • improve sleep
  • boost your mood
  • increase mental alertness
  • improve memory

Music therapy has been a helpful tool through the aging process and it should be part of everyone’s life. But if you want to create even more brain stimulation, switch up the type of music you listen to.

Johns Hopkins calls listening to new music a “total brain workout.” So if you normally listen to country, give Jazz a shot. Only listen to pop music? Try out some classical.

You’ll give your brain a boost and challenge, and may even find a new genre you didn’t even know you liked.

Side Note: even if you don’t like it, you may want to include some classical music in your listening repertoire. Researchers have claimed that classical music is the best to enhance brain activity and perform tasks more efficiently.

They call this the “Mozart Effect,” and the University of California introduced it in 1991.

So, continue to listen to your favorite music, but switch it up whenever you can; and throw some classical into the mix for good measure.

4. A New Workout Routine

Exercise is more than just getting physically fit — it’s important for our mental health.

But something interesting happens when you do the same workout and exercises for months on end: your body — and mind — gets too used to it.

This can stall progress as your body and muscles get too accustomed to the repetitive motions. Your body will find the easiest way to do something and what once stimulated the muscles becomes less effective.

Consistency is important, but so is variation. You need to keep your body guessing to get it stronger, leaner, and fitter.

This variation is also important for more mental stimulation. When you go to the gym and slog through the same routine, it doesn’t do your brain many favors.

To keep your body and mind challenged, mix it up. Add in some new exercises or start an entirely new program.

Try some workouts or classes you have never done before. Throw a racket sport into the mix. Try some swimming.

Not only will this challenge your body — but your mind. New exercises become a new skill you need to learn and The Journal of Psychological Science reveals that a new skill is one of the best ways to improve brain function and memory.

The point of all this — with slowing time down — is the new experiences and memories we get from even simple exercise changes create that deeper impression of time.

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Personal trainer, podcaster, Amazon best-selling author. Writing about some health, a little marketing, and a whole lot of 1980s.


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