I have long ago stopped being able to tell you what day it is without seriously thinking, let alone what time. Apparently, I’m not the only one. Aristotle apparently said that “time is the measure of change” and as one day melds into the next, nothing seems to change.
Anthropologist Felix Ringel studies how humans relate to time, particularly during crises and COVID apparently has impacted more than just our daily interactions with each other, it has also changed how we perceive time. This is caused, at least in part, by our feeling of being stuck without being able to plan for the future. As humans, we have an innate need to know what comes next, without this, we feel out of control, but also lose our connection to time.
Interestingly, whilst economic researcher David Wessel surmised that “2020 is a unique leap year – it had 29 days in February, 300 days in March and 5 years in April”, others have expressed a sensation of time moving faster than normal. In a recent study by psychologist Ruth Ogden she focused on our perception of time during this pandemic and surveying nearly 1000 participants, she found the split is almost 50/50 between those feeling like they can’t believe another week has passed and those that feel like time is dragging on endlessly.
One reason for the split may be whether you are continuing to feel engaged and challenged by your daily activities rather than bored. Studies have shown that when participants reported feeling bored with a task, they grossly overestimated the amount of time they had been spending on that task. Interestingly, whilst days shut indoors may feel long individually, the lack of memorable activities the brain registers actually make the months seem very short in hindsight. Yet if you think of events like a maternity leave – while you are away, time flies and you can hardly believe that it is almost up. Once you return to work, however, it may feel like you have been gone for years.
So regardless of whether your days feel longer or shorter, you are not alone. So take care of yourselves and try to find something to challenge yourself every day to retain some sense of normalcy as we continue through this crazy time.
Your friends at the Kawartha North FHT