“It’s something I’ve got to bring my A-game to,” Peter FitzSimons says of his life now.
Over the past few years, Peter – one of Australia’s foremost cultural contemporaries – has been exploring his relationship with alcohol. He spoke with us about the mental fogginess and fatigue associated with what, for a lot of us, have been standard drinking patterns, as well as the clarity that befalls him now that he has changed his relationship with alcohol.
“The new normal,” he says, “is a clear head.”
Clarity of mind is a state that comes with a swell in your energy for life, but it’s hard to attain. Here to help you on the journey, we have considered a few ways through which you can develop a sense of clarity and uncover energy to meet every day with your A-game.
How to develop a sense of Clarity
Practice daily centering
These days it’s easy to feel inundated with appeals to meditate, to be mindful, to be present, and so on. But despite the mantra-chanting archetypes that may come to mind, the process of centering needn’t be esoteric and weighty. There are many different techniques of meditation, all of them great ways to center yourself by bringing your thoughts into the present and decluttering your mind.
Other processes for centering might include deep breathing or even something like brain dumping, which involves writing down whatever is on your mind – a more active form of meditation. Whatever process works for you, take it and form a ritual to practice daily. Developing such practices allows us to find space in the day. Space that can be used for grounding, re-establishing our goals and reconnecting to our values, all functions of the frequently vacuumed and well polished mindspace. Do it in the morning, right before bed, in a lunch break, or every time you feel flustered, confused or overwhelmed during the day. And if you’re still feeling as though the contemporary preoccupation with mindfulness is just another disposable trend, try watching Carl Sagan’s renowned Pale Blue Dot lecture as an exercise in realising the sobering humble nature of our reality.
How much of our own anxiety do we create ourselves, as we trudge through our chores and duties, chanting words like ‘should’, ‘need’ and ‘cannot’? Remember that even while busy, when stripped of the superfluous wants and needs of our mighty world, you are just as you always were.
One minute reflecting on something like this can do wonders for your focus and provide you with the clarity of mind you need to take on the day.
Take care of your body.
The age-old notion of mind-body dualism seems to be under fire today as the relationship between body and mind becomes increasingly palpable. These days, most would agree that what you do to your body will have some effect on your mind, and vice versa. Taking care of your bodily functions includes a generous array of tasks such as eating well, exercising and clocking in enough sleep.
Here you want to think about alcohol and the role it plays in your life. While you may already be asking yourself how booze affects your body and your mind, now consider the effect it has on your feelings of clarity. Do you get that sense of grogginess when you wake up from a boozy evening, feeling wine’s unforgiving nebula clenching at your temples? Maybe drinking affects your motivation and your energy as you imbibe a sense of apathy and lethargy along with your evening schooner. Think about how alcohol makes you feel and then take steps you believe are best for your bodily wellness and begin to regain a sense of clarity.
Sometimes the disordered fog that settles in our minds is a function of the fact that we aren’t actively taking the time to get out there and seek joy. The seemingly elusive concept of joy usually begins to peek out from all corners of the world once you start looking. Begin this quest by doing something that is of genuine interest to you, by making time for laughter and for friends. Think about what, in your average day, brings you that spark of happiness?
Another way to put this into action is to take a leaf from the book of Twins Peaks’ quirky Agent Dale Cooper. He emphasises, “every day, once a day, give yourself a present. Don’t plan it, don’t wait for it, just let it happen.” Finding a miracle in the mundane is as simple as finding joy in a damn fine cup of steaming hot coffee.
Take a dance break
Or any kind of break. Considering how long and busy our days are becoming, it’s no wonder we’re hit by fatigue and foggy mind. Our pesky human brains can hardly keep up with what we ask of them; they need the downtime as much as you. So, be kind to your most valuable organ and take a break! Get outdoors, have a stretch, or maybe break your work up into smaller segments.
There are a number of great techniques available for optimising focus and time, such as the Pomodoro technique, which emphasises the importance of taking breaks between work.
Maybe going for a walk during lunch could be the thing you need to recharge before the afternoon slump? In fact, many of our great thinkers have cited walking as the very tool they’ve used to help them think more clearly. Plus, by simply heading outside you’ll be reaping in even more benefit – just being outdoors is suggested to be good for our wellbeing (maybe Pokemon Go isn’t such a nuisance).
So, ask yourself what you need. Is it nourishment, a break or the perseverance to push through your work?
With focus, clarity and energy you will find your A-game.