Every single New Year, you will see the same comments cropping up on social media. People will lament the passing of time, marvel at how quickly the last year has passed by, and proclaim a desire to slow down time. It’s the time when a parent posts a picture of their child about to embark on a new term of school, the refrain doesn’t miss a beat: “how do I slow down time?!”
It’s an interesting concept. Obviously, no one has hit on a way of actually being able to slow down or change time - so we’re dealing in the metaphorical space here. But when months and even years seem to speed by with the blink of an eye, is there any way you can slow down your perception of time and how things seem to be rushing past you?
Why Does Time Speed Up As An Adult?
There is no concrete agreement on why time tends to move faster for an adult than it does for children, though there are two leading theories:
a) When you’re a child, six months is a long period of time. If you’re six, then a six month period is a twelfth of all the time you can ever conceive of. By the time you hit your twenties, it’s a lot less than that - so it seems to pass quicker.
b) Adults are more boring. Okay, that doesn’t sound great, but it’s more about routine. For children, each week tends to bring something new, meaning their memory creates a new time stamp to frame things around. By the time we’re adults, we don’t do many new things; we fall into a comfortable pattern of work, social life, cleaning a home - all necessary and even enjoyable, but not new enough for our memories to make a significant event out of them.
So how can we fight back?
Start A “Photo A Day” Project
Every January, these crop up on Instagram before everyone forgets to do it by January 8th. Nevertheless, if you can keep the momentum going, then taking a photo a day can genuinely help slow your perception of time.
It’s a singular moment in the day when you take a moment to look at the subject you’re going to photograph - so it creates a memory time stamp. Not only that, but you then have a record of a moment in your life. You will find when you look back over the pictures, you will recall details about that day and what you were doing - small details that would have been lost otherwise.
Uploading to social media is one way of marking the moment, though physical copies of photos can help even further as holding one increases physical memory. Use something like MyPostcard App or services that offer a digital-to-physical production, and by the end of the year, you will have the best record you’ve ever had of the year you just lived through.
Studies have shown that those who meditate have a slower perception of time than those who do not. It’s all about those memory time stamps again: meditation is a period you set aside from your day and just focus on relaxation. It therefore clarifies everything you do before and after it.
If you’re new to the practice, then begin with a guided meditation. Clearing your mind can be difficult without practice, so by focusing on the words of someone else, you’ll find it easier to get into.
Do Something New
This point was alluded to in the intro - the fact we don’t do new things as an adult is what allows our memories, and thus our perception of time, to blur together. If you fall into a routine is beneficial in some ways, but it can mean the days don’t distinguish themselves from one another.
By “do something new”, it doesn’t have to mean take up a wild new hobby or switch your career direction entirely. It can be something as simple as going for a quick walk when you get home from work. Or you can take a single day off from work in the middle of the week; it can be simple, nothing too demanding, just enough to jolt your memory into seeing it as a distinguishable separate event.
So while you can’t hold up your hands and truly slow down the pace of time, there are ways and means of ensuring your perception relaxes - so you have more time to live in the moment.