There is no misery quite like that of a blissful weekend coming to an end. If you're one of those people always wishing those two magical days will go by in slow motion, there's good news for you: one scientist has revealed a hack that will make your weekends feel longer — and all you need is a new hobby to work on. Here's the deal.
David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, told The Cut that if you want your weekends to slow down, you should pick up a new task that you've never done before. Starting a new activity helps trick your brain into thinking the days are longer. "When you go and experience something novel, it seems to have lasted longer," he says. Case in point? Our childhoods. Do you remember how time seemed to go on forever? That's because just about everything was new.
There's another layer to this whole new-things-make-time-go-slower onion: a big part of why doing new things makes time slow down is because we're paying better attention to it all and actively noticing new things that we wouldn't have otherwise; and when our brains are working to make memories more detailed, the moments seem to last longer.
This would help explain our slo-mo childhoods, and why time seems to flash by in the blink of an eye as adults. Think about it: would you say you usually go through your daily routine without paying much attention to it? Would you also say that life seems to be flying by at warped speed? It's because we're paying so little attention to the details. The less your brain notices the nuances and variety, the faster it all slips by.
The solution, then, might be simply to be more mindful, even when doing the mundane and routine. If this sounds familiar, it's because mindfulness is an ancient practice stemming from Buddhist philosophy that teaches us to focus on the present. Perhaps unsurprisingly, mindfulness has been shown to help our brains store more information better and change how we perceive time. There is much research in the way of using mindfulness to alter time perception, with much of it finding that mindfulness and meditation help us to overestimate durations of time — meaning we think things last longer than they do.
Doing something new isn't the only way that you can help your weekends go by slower, though. In fact, doing anything is better than doing nothing.
If you stay home and watch TV all day, your weekend will feel like it zoomed right on by. If you busy yourself with a few activities, however — maybe running errands and hitting the gym — everything will seem to slow a bit.
And it makes sense, doesn't it? When we're engrossed in TV, we don't pay attention to much else going on around us. That's why some of us love it: it's a chance to "check out" and not have to think about anything. But it's precisely this behavior of not thinking that makes the minutes and hours pass so quickly in our minds. Force yourself to think about something — whether it's your trip to the grocery store or that new yoga pose you've been trying to master — and you just might enjoy your weekends more.