Time distortions

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Time has become a stand in for all that we cannot control. It is both the breakneck speed at which things are changing, and the burden of how much is staying the same. We are scared this might go on forever

Arielle Pardes

Have you ever stepped back and reflected on your internal perceptions of time during this pandemic? It occurred to me this week following a recent zoom call that our experiences of time fluctuate in ways that they have never before. During recent weeks I feel like I have been on a bizarre see saw where time has been moving too quickly and at others much too slowly. Certainly human emotions are known to distort our perceptions of time and it makes sense given that the virus continues to wreak havoc with many aspects of our lives. Stressors disturb and then time distorts.

Losing track of time is wonderful while we are on vacation or when we become engrossed in a creative project. Losing track of time due to constant distraction and the ongoing struggle to maintain focus is a different story. I have been working recently on revisions and edits of a number of pieces of fiction and realized that I am stopping and starting more than what I would consider typical for my normal work habits.

It is disconcerting (putting this politely) to realize that no matter how much effort I give, that it has been harder to stay focused, be productive and just get things done.

Studies are currently taking place across the globe to examine the ways in which the pandemic has altered our sense of time. Researchers offer that stress impacts perceptions of time as does not having clearly defined timelines and pathways to move forward with our future goals. To try and imagine that this current situation may become our new reality is beyond what most of us can fathom. But we have adapted to things so far and will likely need to continue on this path for the foreseeable future.

Knowing that some of these impacts are from pandemic stressors helps a bit. So is remembering that is okay to struggle with focus and concentration. Owning and acknowledging strong feelings about what is our current context and being okay with that, helps too. Finding a workable schedule and trying to set goals regardless of how small they might be and not self shaming when you don’t meet them may be the best you can do.

Enjoy those moments when your creativity sparks, writing flows and things seem just like they always have. Making sure we nurture our social connections, are mindful of our own self care needs, and taking time for daily movement breaks can help us navigate those tight corners.

Time is really the only thing we have right now and understanding how we may be experiencing it differently might be helpful as we move through these challenging days, weeks, and months ahead.

Stay healthy and safe!

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