A stressed man at work

What’s the connection between time perception and stress? Can you alter the experience of time?

On his podcast Huberman Lab, Dr. Andrew Huberman connects the perception of time with stress levels. He suggests that directing focus can alter how we experience time, much like the varied pacing of an Alfred Hitchcock film works to create tension.

Let’s dive into Huberman’s stress-improvement advice by changing how you understand time.

Modulating Time Perception for Stress Relief

Exploring the connection between time perception and levels of stress, Andrew Huberman discusses his personal morning ritual, ‘space-time bridging,’ a sensory practice designed to alter the experience of time and manage stress. This technique involves shifting focus from internal sensations to the immediate surroundings and then to a wider vista, aiming to recalibrate his perception of time with each shift. 

By training his nervous system through this routine, he enhances his ability to navigate various perceptions of time, aiding his task-switching capabilities. Huberman also noted that our visual perception interacts with temporal perception, highlighting that the brain interprets time differently based on whether we direct our gaze to close-up details or distant horizons. 

Using the analogy of a Hitchcock film, he described how time-linked visual elements are used to manipulate the viewer’s unconscious perception of time.

Our View of Time

Perception, the process by which we interpret and make sense of sensory information, plays a crucial role in our understanding of the world around us. One aspect of perception that has garnered significant attention is time perception, which refers to how we subjectively experience the passage of time. Time perception is influenced by various factors, including stress levels and our ability to focus and pay attention. Stress, a physiological and psychological response to perceived threats or challenges, can distort our perception of time, making it feel like it’s either dragging on or flying by. On the other hand, our ability to switch tasks and allocate cognitive resources effectively can also impact how we perceive time.

Visual perception is another important factor in shaping our temporal experiences. The way we interpret visual stimuli and make sense of the visual world can influence how long or short events appear to be. For example, film editing techniques used by renowned director Alfred Hitchcock demonstrate how manipulating visual elements can create specific effects on viewers’ perception of time. Understanding these relationships between visual perception and temporal experiences opens up possibilities for enhancing time management skills and stress reduction strategies.

To manage stress levels and enhance task-switching capabilities, individuals may turn to sensory practices such as mindfulness meditation. These practices involve directing attention and focusing on the present moment, potentially influencing both time perception and stress levels positively. Additionally, exploring other senses beyond vision may provide further insights into temporal experiences. Hearing or touch could play significant roles in shaping our subjective experience of duration.

Andrew Huberman on Stress and Time Perception

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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