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Why time flies while on holidays?

world Updated: Apr 22, 2012 19:26 IST

Ever wondered why holidays past so quickly than usual, but remain so memorable? It may be due to the different methods your brain uses to judge the passage of time, scientists say.

The phenomenon, called the holiday paradox, is linked with our perception of time and how it is affected by the number of memories we form, the researchers said.

Learning to manipulate our perception of time could make our lives feel fuller and reassure those who feel that the years slip by faster as they grow older, psychologist Claudia Hammond said at the British Psychological Society conference in London.

According to Hammond, when we are doing something new and interesting -- such as when we are on holiday -- time appears to go more quickly than when we are bored or anxious.

But when we look back retrospectively, our assessment of time is based on how many individual new memories we built up during that period, she explained.

In a normal fortnight the average person only accumulates between six and nine new memories because so much of what we do is routine.

But on a holiday we can build up that number of memories in a single day because everything we experience is new, meaning that when we look back it will seem to have lasted much longer than it really did, the Daily Telegraph reported.

"The same happens as we get older and time starts to speed up. There are fewer memories of new things, and we do the same things more and more often," Hammond said.

People who complain that years seem to whizz past with increasing speed could slow things down by making the most of their weekends and breaking up their daily routine, she added.

"Taking a different route to work, getting off your bus a stop early or avoiding having the same sandwich for lunch every day could make life seem a little slower," she noted.