As the days get shorter, and we start to settle into our fall routines, it is not uncommon to feel like time is slipping away. With the already existing stress of academics, stressing over our lack of time control is not ideal. However, whilst I unfortunately can’t magically add hours to your schedule, I can help you dilate the way you perceive time.
In order to understand how to slow down our perception of time, we first need to be able to grasp why it sometimes speeds up. I bet that everyone at some point has asked themselves how time existed in such abundance when we were children. How an hour-long road trip to grandma’s could feel like an eternity whilst the summer break between first and second grade made you question if school still existed?
One answer to this interesting dilation of time is found in the beautiful concept of familiarity. Our brains are constantly working on interpreting and comprehending our surroundings by properly organizing the information we receive in ways we can perceive and understand. The more familiar a set of information is, the faster our brains are able to organize it, which makes time appear faster (Dachis 2011). Consequently, when we experience something new, something that forces our brains
to work harder–- time will appear slower (Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up with Age? 2016). This can explain why the first days of uni felt like a week in themselves, whilst October somehow is over before it even started! Because just like our eight-years-old selves were able to wake up to a new world, full of impressions, so were we!
Another thing that plays a significant role in our perception of time is dopamine. While we all yearn for the effects of our favorite chemical, dopamine is strongly associated with our impression of time passing. We live in a dopamine-addicted society where our drug never is further away than an arm’s length reach, making boredom a seldom event. This ceaseless stimulation therefore prevents us from rarely paying close attention to anything as it takes that extra second we tell ourselves we don’t have (Saplakoglu 2019). However, when we are bored we are
presented with two options; we can either choose to zone out and let time fly (Raypole 2020), or we can increase the flow of cognitive information by grounding ourselves and becoming more present (Taylor 2011). Practicing mindfulness may seem complicated and time-consuming, but it does not have to be, especially not in our beautiful Lund! Just notice that pretty leaf, feel that crispy air, appreciate that
bumpy cobblestone. With a pinch of mindfulness, we can make time appear slower.
Personally, I got my fair share of this slower lifestyle when I learned how to knit. For someone like me who loves speed and expects perfection on the first try, it was also a remarkably humbling experience. But, regardless of the reversed ego-boost, it turned out to be the perfect mix of presence and brain work as it forced me to be present with my yarn and my needles during every single stitch to not mess up my hopefully soon-to-be-sock. This made time drag itself forward. Although the sock
itself may not be my proudest creation, the process of making did give me unique insights into time’s elasticity.
Unfortunately, knitting is not always the innocent activity it first may appear to be. Just like dopamine, needlework can be highly addictive, and unfortunately, when our focus becomes too narrow we tend to block out other stimulations in our surroundings. This results in a reduced flow of cognitive information, causing time to speed up (Taylor 2011).
By being mindful and challenging our brains with new activities we are able to regain agency over time and dilate the way we perceive it. Even though I am more than confident in your abilities to implement these time-controlling tools yourself, I still allowed myself to make a small list of ways for you to start your new life:
- Adventure bike ride to uni- Going to the gym is great and all, but don’t forget to make your brain work too by challenging it with some new surroundings to process!
- Learn to crochet- Knitting is fun, but crocheting is funnier;) And since fall in Lund can be very cold, I advise you all to invest in some yarn and learn a new skill. (I have also heard Ariman has a knitting club on Wednesdays…:)
- A week full of brain work!- Come up with seven activities to try and switch up your weekly routine in order to regain some sense of control of your existence! Go to that nation for lunch, do that yoga in your bedroom, bake those cookies.
- Mindful dinner party- Since nothing says more fun than mindfulness, why don’t you invite your friends over to practice some mindful eating? There are scripts available online. It will be great. I promise.
- Tea- Since people are people I encourage you to invite a person you would like to get to know better for a cup of tea!!
Dachis, A. (17 May 2011). lifehacker, Available online:
https://lifehacker.com/why-new-experiences-are-important-and-how-they-positiv-5802583, Accessed 22 October 2023.
Why Does Time Seem to Speed Up with Age? (1 July 2016). Scientific American,
https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-time-seem-to-speed-up-with-age/#, Accessed 22 October 2023.
Raypole, C. ( 3 Februari 2020). Healthline, Available online:
https://www.healthline.com/health/zoning-out, Accessed 22 October 2023.
Saplakoglu, Y. (2 March 2019). LiveScience, Available online:
https://www.livescience.com/64901-time-fly-having-fun.html, Accessed 22 October 2023.
Taylor, S. (3 July 2011). Psychology Today, Available online:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/out-the-darkness/201107/why-does-time-seem-pass-different-speeds, Accessed 22 October 2023.