This is a subject that is not always discussed when it comes to stress reduction, and yet if you do wish to control your stress and anxiety levels, you will need to learn it.
But what is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to to be aware of your emotions, manipulate them from negative to positive and analyze them in yourself and other people, so you know when you are stressed, being negative and how to recognize this in other people.
This has numerous benefits, from being able to stay focused to building rapport with your team player or workers, to even resolving conflict and reducing stress in the long run.
There are 4 steps of Emotional Intelligence
Step 1: Being aware / perceiving your emotions- You need to be aware of your own emotions. It sounds easy, but you try it next time you get depressed or angry. Easier said than done, right? You need to be aware of your emotional state, moment to moment (if needs be) and be aware of how your emotions relate to your thoughts and your behaviors.
Step 2: Managing your emotional state- This is the ability to control your emotions, so that you can change behaviors, impulsive feelings, and learn to change with ever changing circumstances.
Step 3: Learn to understand emotions- This is vital to creating rapport with other people, making friends, or learning to read non-verbal clues and body language. It also means to understand the situation better, so for eg, if you speak to your dad, and he is angry, it does not necessarily mean that it is your fault. It could be that he was late for work, or got gotten up in a traffic jam, or did not sleep well.
Step 4: Learn how to control you emotions to develop prosperous relationships- The need to understand our emotions and what can trigger them, in ourselves and other people, is a priceless commodity. We can then begin to understand what is really going on around us, and the power games that are used. But on the positive side, we can develop harmonious relationships, communicate effectively, inspire people and work towards our goals more effectively.
So why is being emotionally aware so important?
It is said that if you are in control (to some degree) of your emotions, you are more able to be successful in the long run than, say, somebody who is academically brilliant.
How many of us have hear stories of individuals who have a high IQ, yet crumble when it comes to doing exams.
How many of us have seen a soccer player put a penalty away easily when the team are cruising 4-0 on an average game, yet blazes one over the bar if it is the deciding penalty that will secure them a place in the final?
We have seen it time and time again, being clever is simply not good enough!
You have to be smart as well, emotionally, as well as academically!
And being emotionally intelligent is the best way to do that.
- Health- It goes without saying (and I've had a personal experience of this) that if you can not manage your emotions, you're more susceptible to stress. Period! Now do not get me wrong, I'm not talking about keeping negative feelings inside of yourself. That causes more harm than good. You need to express your feelings (in a non-destructive way, obviously) or you can make yourself ill! But not being emotionally aware will make you feel depressed, stressed and can cause all sorts of bodily breakdowns, like weakening the immune system to raising your blood pressure.
- Mental well-being- It also goes without saying, that if you can not manage your emotions and suffer from stress, this will affect your mental health. This may lead you to have mood swings, suffer a burnout (please see the next chapter for the burnout) and can leave you isolated and lonely as you do not communicate and connect very easily, so you begin losing friends and cut out relationships.
- You work life- Being able to manage your emotions and communicate effectively with other people, including building rapport with other co workers, colleges and managers, will mean better work relationships, being able to inspire and better resolution of inevitable work conflicts. You will be seen as being able to be a great communicator, which will increase productivity and team morale.
Increasing your Emotional Intelligence is a 5 step plan, and when these steps are mastered, not only will you feel better about yourself and being around other people, you will also become more healthy and more focused in your life.
- Reduce your stress levels
- Being aware of your emotions and how to manage them
- Being able to connect with other people using non verbal clues and other body language
- The art of using humor to help resolve conflict and inevitable challenges
- Learning how to use this all to resolve conflicts in a positive way and with confidence
Mastering the above 5 will help you become more of an emotionally manageable person, and you will be able to develop rapport, increase your emotional awareness, and feel more better.But what do you think? Let me know in the box below.
Let's look at each one …
1. Reducing Your stress levels. You need to be aware of when you are stressed, how you feel, what parts of the body are affected (for example, a tight chest or contracted throat), what triggered the stress levels, and what tends to help relieve the stress. This can either be something that can queaten you down, or something that can be stimulating. Everybody is different and therefore has different ways of dealing with stress. If you are introverted, withdrawn or depressed, you will tend to react more effectively to activities that stimulate you. Likewise, if you get angry or agitated, activities that quieten you down will be your best bet.
2. Being aware of your emotions and how to manage them. Having a moment to moment awareness of your emotions is a priceless commodity, and you will be able to quickly identify which things help you be positive, and likewise the stuff that makes you negative. But like I said before, when I talk about managing your emotions, I'm not talking about suppressing them. You need to release them in a healthy way, in order for you to begin the healing process.
Meditation and being in the, 'now' is a great way of releasing negativity, as all negativity is that of the EGO and not of the soul (I'll talk more about that in a later chapter).
Conversely, if you are very angry, it may be worthwhile to buy a punch bag, and when you get home, punch some wind (or join a gym to work it off).
Learning to release your negative emotions in a safe and constructive way is a great way to reclaim your peace of mind, as well as resolve and improve relationships.
3. Being able to connect with other people using non verbal clues and other body language. Non verbal communication makes up for about 70% of all of the total conversation. So it makes sense to try to master the non verbal clues, such as breathing, facial expressions, and tone (to name a few). Reading about NLP and body language will also be of extreme help.
As always, to be a great communicator and rapport developer, try to keep eye contact, and keep your breathing at the same pace as their souls (unless they are breathing really quickly, that is).
These small tips helps you to develop a good relationship, and you will be surprised at how this helps with the overall goal.
4. The art of using humor to help resolve conflict and inevitable challenges. 'There's nowt wrong with a good belly laugh'. Many of you will have heard someone say this (or something similar) and for good reason. Laughter is probably in my opinion, one of the most underrated ways of not only reducing stress and keeping your head clear, but also to diffuse a bad situation.
But I said, 'art' in the title, and for good reason.
There is a small knack. You can laugh at the wrong time, so a fair judgment of the situation is needed here.
But a small quick does of humor can help resolve differences in opinion, while a big belly laugh in the privacy of your own company, trying to see the, 'funny side' of a bad situation, can help you go through hardships in life.
I know, this may sound impossible to do at first, but you do get into it.
And after all, why not? Why should you let your inner peace be spoiled and ruined due to an exterior circumstance.
Laughing helps clear the mind so you can be less rigid and stiff in your thinking, allowing more creative ways to solve a problem to emerge, see the positive side of it (and if one exists, of course) and will help get your nervous system back into balance.
Do not underestimate the power of a good laugh!
5. Learning how to use this all to resolve conflicts in a positive way and with confidence. Lets be honest, although we all want harmonious and peaceful relationships, battles and disagreements are bound to happen. Why? Because everyone has a difference in opinion, and nearly everyone (apart from a small minority) is right.
So there is bound to be some hard talking around. This is where grounding yourself, and being in the, 'now' helps.
You help clear your mind of negativity and previous mental baggage (judgments, preconceived notions and beliefs, etc) and this will result in a more effective and peaceful outcome.
But do not forget, if you simply can not see the other persons point of view, you can always agree to disagree, or at the very worst, forgive.
This will keep the constructive aspect of the argument still strong, without it spilling over and causing too much hurt. Forgiveness helps you restore peace of mind, keeps you focused, reduces stress and restores broken friendships and relationships.
And how do you forgive? Just let go!