A Monday is a Tuesday is a Sunday as COVID-19 disrupts internal clocks

Several research groups have taken advantage of this unplanned natural experiment to gauge the psychological impacts of time distortions and, in turn, their effects on mental health. Psychologists know that time sense links to well-being. Its perceived slower passage can represent signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Rappaport’s feelings jibe with the findings of preliminary studies. Overall, people seem to be experiencing time more slowly, according to data that are beginning to be compiled. In a not yet peer-reviewed preprint paper, Sylvie Droit-Volet, a time perception researcher at the University of Clermont Auvergne in France, and her colleagues show that people there report the clock moving more slowly during the lockdown. The researchers also document feelings of sadness and boredom and tie them to the overall feeling of deceleration.

“Their findings directly support the emotional connection with time perception,” says Philip Gable of the University of Alabama.