WASHINGTON, D.C. — The ticking clock and the changing of the seasons are hallmarks of the passage of time. Then, there’s “pandemic time.”
“It's been a long year for people and I think it sometimes it feels really long,” said Dr. Sarah Paper, a clinical psychologist with Allina Health.
Dr. Paper said this period of time experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic is altering the perception of time for many.
“It all kind of feels the same, like the only difference between for me like this day versus a day in June is, you know, how warm the blanket is that I have on my lap there,” she said.
Experts say a changing perception of time can have an impact on someone’s emotional state. A study conducted at Liverpool John Moores University in the U.K. during that country's lockdown found that 80 percent of people experienced “time distortion” during the pandemic.
How much it affected people came down to a few key factors. Time seemed to pass slower for those who were older, more stressed, or who had less social interaction. However, it seemed to pass quickly for those who were younger, had a busier workload and were more social.
“Philosophers--for the last, I don't know, 2,400 years--have been more in the business of trying to give people advice about how they should think about time, realizing that some of the ways that we ordinarily experience time are bad,” said Meghan Sullivan, the Wilsey Family College professor of philosophy at Notre Dame University and author of the book Time Biases.
So, how can you regain a normal sense of time? Sullivan said it is important to keep making plans for the future, even if they get pushed further down the calendar.
“One of the things that separate us from other animals is our capacity to project our lives really far in the future and to make these plans that go out really far in the future, which is pretty remarkable. And I think that does give us a sense of control and meaning over our lives,” Sullivan said. “It's good for us to realize that and know that about ourselves and to make those kinds of future plans.”
It’s the idea of planning for a time when pandemic time becomes a thing of the past.