Updated: Mar 8
Did you know that when you look up at the stars at night you are looking at the past?
It’s weird to think that the starlight we see isn’t generated in our present, but starlight is a good example of how our perception of time can be skewed.
Time is measurable but how we experience time is variable. We have more time than we think.
The key is to be more aware of the moment. Here are a couple of methods to consider if you feel time is passing quicker than the speed of light.
No time like the present
One thing we forget to tap into as we get older is our capacity to slow down the perception of our environment.
As children, more about living is unfamiliar. All the new skills, adjustments, and sensations of figuring life out as a child forces the mind to be present and aware.
As adults, a lot in life is familiar, routine, and mind-numbing. The less information our minds process as observations, sensations, and thoughts, the fewer markers of time we collect.
Previous studies from behavioral science researchers at Stanford University and the University of Minnesota found evidence that adults can evoke a feeling of more time by experiencing awe.
Awe brings people into the present.
According to the research, to experience awe, someone must have a sensory feeling of vastness that leads to a new way of thinking or understanding. Awe moves a person spontaneously into the present moment and changes their perception of the environment.
What creates awe can be different for different people. A bucket list can be a good way to curate experiences that create awe. Feeling the spray at Niagara Falls, viewing the Northern Lights in Finland, eating chili crab at a hawker’s market in Singapore all could be adventures that lead to a new way of viewing things.
Awe makes us process information in a less biased way, reduces the influence of our expectations and increases uptake of information. All this new input expands our feeling of time.
A simpler way
If finding time for awe is too stressful, the simplest way to feel like you have more time is as easy as taking a series of deep breaths.
Stress and anxiety put the body in a “fight or flight” state that alters time perception. Researchers studying the physiology of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), found that conscious, deep, slow breathing positively affects the “signal processing in the brain in areas that are important in emotion and cognition.”
Essentially, deep breathing can help reboot your brain from an overanxious rut and slow things down.
Try inhaling on five counts and exhaling on six counts to see if you feel less stressed and have more perspective on time.
Two things to try to help slow time
Our emotions and feelings can skew our perception of time. As we get older, the routines and stress of life make time feel faster because we are less present in the moment.
To be more present try:
Feeling some awe - Pencil in some activities that make you feel wonder. Dust off the bucket list, take a day trip, go to a concert, look up at the old starlight, etc. Find what awe fits you.
Taking some planned deep breaths when you are stressed to slow time down.
Julia Fletcher founded JEFS Storytelling Arts to use her unique research skills and artistic talents to create custom visual stories that help clients' increase engagement and promote the education of their audience.