Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

Turns out, time does not really fly when you’re having fun.

June 08, 2017

Do you have a case of the Mondays? We all do.

That feeling of anxiety and dread on Sunday night or the night before any vacation ends is familiar to almost every adult human working 9-to-5. Suddenly, you’re caught wondering where the weekend or that blissful vacation went.

But sometimes when we’re working for the weekend, we can miss out on enjoying our time off. As much as we try to make the most of our free days, they always seem shorter and shorter.

What’s the problem? It’s actually how we’re perceiving time. But there are a few ways to make your vacations and weekends feel longer and more rewarding using some little tricks of cognitive psychology.

According to Marc Wittmann, a psychologist and the author of "Felt Time: The Psychology of How We Perceive Time," people on vacation often experience “the classic holiday effect.”

“Any interval feels longer if you have more memories stored. If you experience more memorable events, then time stretches,” wrote Wittmann.

Therefore, one of the ways you can stretch out how you feel on a break is by seeking out new experiences. Instead of going to the same old places like your everyday bar or shopping center, try going to a landmark you’ve never seen, partaking in an activity you’re always putting off, or finally going on the small getaway you’ve always thought about.

You don't necessarily need to jet off to some far-away land, but you can take a short road trip to a nearby town, or go to a flea market you’ve always passed by but never stopped at, or even just take a book to the park (if that’s not normally your thing).

“The first few days at a new and exotic location stretch considerably. That is, because we experience so many novel and exciting and emotional events, memory load increases; time stretches,” wrote Wittmann.

Wittmann also suggests that over-planning can contribute to us perceiving shorter weekends and vacations.

“Planning also speeds up the passage of time,” he wrote, “because there you’re always already in the future. You have this future perspective of your mind, and then you are actually not attending to what is happening right now.”

By staying in the moment, you open yourself up to spontaneous experiences. If you want to plan one or two things, there’s no harm, but keeping an agenda for every minute of your time off will only make your vacation go that much faster.

In a way, Wittmann is saying that improvising to keep yourself entertained stretches out your vacation time.

Turns out, time does not really fly when you’re having fun.

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