We have all experienced it: a holiday that whizzes by at the time but, in retrospect, seems to have gone on forever.
Scientists say it is all to do with our perception of time and how it is affected by the number of memories we form.
When we are on holiday, or doing something else new and exciting, the hours pass really quickly there and then.
But all the new experiences lead to lots of new memories – and when we look back at them, there are so many to go through, that it feels as if we were away for ages.
In contrast, when we are at home or work and going about our normal routine, there is less of interest and so fewer memories are laid down.
This leads to days seeming to drag at the time but flying past in retrospect – and can lead to a feeling that life is passing us by.
The phenomenon, and the science behind it, has been dubbed the holiday paradox by psychology lecturer Claudia Hammond.
Author of Time Warped, she says that memories – or lack of them – also explain why time seems to speed up as we get older.
We accumulate most memories between the ages of 15 and 25 when we experience lots of “firsts” in love, work and life. As we get older and our lives start to follow a set pattern, we have fewer new experiences.
Fewer new experiences lead to fewer memories and so less to look back on. As a result, when trying to assess what we have achieved in recent months or years, it can seem that life is flying by.
To stop this from happening, Hammond suggests trying to recreate the holiday paradox and pack as much as possible into each day. In other words, to slow down life, you need to speed up.
Hammond says: “If you want life to seem long and for your weekends to seem long, then you need to slow it with all sorts of activities: go somewhere new, spend time with different people.
“When you get to Monday morning, it will seem like the weekend was really long.”
To break up the routine of the working week, try taking a different route to work, or buy a different sandwich for lunch. - Daily Mail