The cold wind has whipped the trees to and fro until most of the leaves have fallen onto the brown grass. Sitting by the fireplace, I plug away at the long list of online chores I have to complete before going to bed. Tonight there’s not much wind, but with the way weather changes constantly I wonder what it will be like for me later in the week.
Last Wednesday there was a 93 percent chance of snow with a high only reaching 41F/5C which seemed exciting. It was more exciting when it actually happened. I can handle that kind of winter weather even though fall was way too short this year. Next week looks like some interesting weather. There’s rain on Tuesday, sunny clouds the next day and Thursday is going to be foggy with a high of 61F. That’s not exactly cold, but at least it isn’t going to be hot again for quite some time.
Virginia had a beautiful fall this year. The trees were truly magnificent with all the colorful leaves hanging on every limb. Although winter is upon us now, it was only a short time ago that fall was in the air and the leaves were falling in my hair.
For many reasons, I have felt a little out of sorts for the last couple months. Just when I start to get into a groove, something happens. I know it is just normal life, but time seems to be speeding by twice as fast as it did a couple years ago. Why? How can I slow it down?
What Causes Time To Slow Down?
When going through an unpleasant experience, I WANT time to pass quickly, but the rest of my life I want to savor my experiences. So I’ve been thinking about why time drags by when I’m suffering pain and feeling unhappy and yet it flies by when I’m having a great experience filled with happiness.
Think about what you do when you’re suffering pain and feeling unhappy. When I’m feeling that way, depression sets in and I’m not very productive. I cry, mope, don’t talk to friends, stare out the window, and clean anything in sight. Throughout each day, I notice everything about everything because my senses are raw and heightened with emotion. However, during those times I don’t enjoy anything because I feel heavy with sadness.
When I’m feeling blue and actively paying attention to things, time slows down.
David Eagleman, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, explains the slowing down of time in The New Yorker dated April 25, 2011…
“When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. ‘This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,’ Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”
So when you’re depressed, sad or scared and noticing all the little things like the movement of the clock hands, the blades of the fan going around and around, raindrops dripping down the glass, and the flicker of the flames in the fireplace, time seems to go by more slowly. This explains why when a catastrophic event occurs, every detail of the moment is not only recognized, but also crisply etched in the mind and permanently remembered.
9 Ways To Slow Time Down
Now that you know why time seems to move in slow motion when you’re down or upset, it’s time to discuss ways that you can slow down time when you’re happy too.
- Focus on now…today. Stay in the present. – My family is pretty tired of hearing my basic philosophy for life…”Live one day at a time.” As a matter of fact, just a few days ago my mother said, “Don’t start that one day at a time stuff again.” I laughed to myself because if she really understood the concept and the importance of living it, she wouldn’t have even thought about it in that way. Living one day at a time is the only way I survived PTSD and it was also the only way I could heal from it. Focusing on right now and not thinking past today is the best way to survive and cope especially when life gets really rough and painful. It’s not easy to do, but it is so worth it and will make all the difference in your progression. If you’re making a point to live right now and concentrate on today, time will slow down.
The past is gone and
the future isn’t here yet.
- Only look at the clock occasionally and don’t have every minute scheduled throughout the day. – When every minute of the day is jam packed with things to do, you don’t have time to relax, think and be creative. You don’t and you won’t have time for those experiences if you do not give yourself empty time or what I call Carefree Timelessness. If you think it isn’t important to have free time, I’m one hundred percent sure that you’re mistaken. Not only does depriving yourself of free time cause you to be more unhappy, but you also become less productive, less organized, less patient, easier to anger, and it sets you up for poor health. You are doing yourself and your family a disservice by cramming too much into the day. Having free, unscheduled time is not a crime.
- Meditate not only to recenter your thoughts, but to allow your mind, body and soul to decompress and de-stress. – There are so many reasons that meditation is important, but just talking about doing it isn’t the same as setting time aside to meditate. The obvious reason for meditating is to give yourself a break and time to get away from the chaos of the day. However, meditation affects the nervous system dramatically by increasing the production of serotonin which keeps the mood balanced and wards off depression. Meditation stops your body and mind from moving at one hundred miles an hour into the future. Meditation slows time way down so that you can enjoy not only the moment, but everything in the moment and around you in the moment.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. – Long, deep, slow breaths can reduce stress, help you to react in a positive manner to stress related activities, increase blood circulation, cleanse the body, and loosen the muscles. One of the best things about using deep breathing is that you can do it anywhere and at anytime. So if you’re uptight while standing in the grocery store line, sitting in class during an exam, babysitting for your next door neighbor, or making a big presentation to a prospective client, deep breathing can help you and will only take a few minutes to do.
Inhale the past;
Exhale the future.
- Listen to relaxing music and pay attention to the lyrics. – When you take the time to not only listen to music, but also to focus your thoughts on the lyrics, time seems to slow down dramatically. Research has found that peaceful music will help reduce blood pressure, loosen muscles, prevent or alleviate pain, slows breathing, slows heartbeats, reduces physical tension, and reduces mental tension. I love soft, slow music. Actually, you could call me the Queen of Elevator Music. Yeah, I love elevator music.
- Learn and try new things. – When learning to do something, all your attention is focused on the new “something” that you’re learning. If it is really interesting to you, it is also hard to drag yourself away from the learning because you’re either intrigued, overwhelmed or thoroughly enjoying the whole process. When you’re that focused, time almost stops. You are so into that one moment that nothing else even crosses your mind. Learning is such a wonderful experience!
- Make short daily lists if you must make a list. – I know that marking tasks off a list when they are completed gives you a sense of accomplishment, but if you make the list longer than your arm, it is counter productive and depressing. Having a list that never gets finished can cause you to feel like one of those hamsters on the wheel…always moving, but never getting very far. When making a daily list, keep it very short so that you finish the list and have plenty of spare time to relax and enjoy life.
- Control your negative emotions – anger, frustration, impatience, worry. – You’re human, so there will be times that you’re not at your best mentally, physically or emotionally. By analyzing the reason for your negative emotions, you will not only be better able to control them, but you can help to make the negatives into beautiful positives. One of the secrets of negativism is to ensure that if you wallow in it, the wallowing is brief. Don’t let the negatives consume you or everything that is beautiful now will slip right past you.
- Daydream. – Floating away peacefully into a world where everything is just the way you want it to be can lighten your mood and fill you with happiness. Yes, daydreams do serve a purpose and you can’t daydream unless you have the free time to do so. Daydreams actually help your creativity and problem solving capabilities. I wouldn’t suggest you daydream while you’re driving, performing a surgical operation, or flying an airplane, but at the right time and place, daydreams can be very therapeutic and healing.
Slowing down time takes practice, but the peace that comes from just stopping is well worth the effort. So tomorrow when I go visit my Aunt Barbara and Uncle Billy on a short day trip, I am going to make a conscious effort to enjoy everything from the leaves that blow across the highway to the wonderful happiness of being with family. I won’t even complain about the wind blowing my hair all which-a-ways…maybe.