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Why time flies while on fun-filled holidays

Saturday - Apr 21, 2012, 03:22pm (GMT+5.5)
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Why time flies while on fun-filled holidays

London -  Time seems to go faster than usual when we are on holidays. But once you return to the daily routine your break will suddenly seem like it lasted for a lifetime, say psychologists.

They believe that the effect is down to the different methods the brain uses to judge the passage of time, the Telegraph reported.

Learning to manipulate our perception of time could make our lives feel fuller and reassure those who feel that the years slip by faster as they grow older.

The mystery behind the so-called “holiday paradox” was explained in a presentation by psychologist and BBC broadcaster Claudia Hammond at the British Psychological Society conference  in London last week.

Hammond, whose book Time Warped will be published next month, said when we are doing something new and interesting – such as when we are on holiday – time appears to go more  quickly than when we are bored or anxious.

But when we look back retrospectively, our assessment of time is based on how many individual new memories we built up during that period, she explained.

In a normal fortnight the average person only accumulates between six and nine new memories because so much of what we do is routine.

But on a holiday we can build up that number of memories in a single day because everything we experience is new, meaning that when we look back it will seem to have lasted much longer

than it really did.

“The same happens as we get older and time starts to speed up. There are fewer memories of new things, and we do the same things more and more often,” she said.

People who complain that years seem to whizz past with increasing speed could slow things down by making the most of their weekends and breaking up their daily routine, she suggested.

“Taking a different route to work, getting off your bus a stop early or avoiding having the same sandwich for lunch every day could make life seem a little slower,” she added.


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