If you have big plans this Earth Day, it might feel like the day flew by by the time it ends. But look back in a few weeks, and it'll seem like it lasted for months. This is called the holiday paradox, and we're just now beginning to understand it.
Psychologist and BBC broadcaster Claudia Hammond recently wrote a book titled Time Warped about this phenomenon.
Seems simple enough: time flies when you're having fun, so the day will pass quickly as your brain's focus won't be on time. But Hammond said our assessment of time, as we look back, is based on the amount of new memories we create during a period of time. It becomes a sort of measuring stick.
Now, in a regular fortnight, we only accumulate about six to eight memories. These are memories that will last with us, not short-termed "Oh, I had six packets of Easy Mac last night." Those "routine" memories fade.
But when something new and interesting is happening, such as a vacation or the beginning of a new job or a holiday (however you spend them), etc., the brain creates new memories at an extremely high rate. We could easily get eight new memories in one day.
This can also, of course, be manipulated. Eat the same thing every day, and time will feel faster (looking back on it). Switch it up, and the new memories will make it feel like vacation.
Via The Telegraph