Described simply, emotional intelligence is one’s ability to understand the emotions of themselves and others, and regulate emotions accordingly. A term made popular by psychologist Daniel Goleman in 1995, emotional intelligence has been a growing field of study ever since.
There are different attributes that define emotional intelligence, but here are the five core traits:
- Self awareness: Recognizing your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior.
- Self regulation: Handling feelings and emotions appropriately. You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage emotions in healthy ways and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Motivation: Striving to improve and achieve excellence.
- Social skills: Being able to collaborate, communicate and positively influence others.
- Empathy: Compassion and understanding of others.
Emotional intelligence is pretty mainstream in our culture today as self-help experts, educators and successful executives place emphasis on why we shouldn’t speak without thinking, cause outbursts, and do dumb things under pressure. Many people fail to manage their emotions, which can lead to self destruction and why EI is an important component of being a well-rounded person.
The term is often used to describe how well you get along with your coworkers and family members, but take it a step further to understand that certain mental health conditions are related to lower levels of emotional intelligence. Add to that the fact that as one’s mental health declines so can physical health. That’s why it’s important to develop sound mental and physical wellness through emotional intelligence.
The first step in improving emotional intelligence is learning how to relieve stress, because if you can’t manage emotions, you probably can’t manage stress effectively.
Too much stress can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, raise blood pressure, contribute to infertility, accelerate the aging process and make you vulnerable to depression and anxiety.
Broad types of healthy living can help circumvent illness and relieve corresponding stress, including eating well, exercising, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking.
None of those activities need to happen in a vacuum. In fact, you could even bond with other people who are also engaging in positive change. Your interactions bring you closer to people and elevate emotional intelligence as a result of your shared physical experiences. Being able empathize with others is a key component of emotional intelligence.
The impacts of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions take a toll on the brain. Being able to regulate emotions, understand them and be okay with them will make you feel less isolated or lonely. Forming strong relationships not steeped in turmoil will also make you feel less stressed.
The quality of social relationships affect mental health just as much as physical health. Social and intimate relationships make people happier and more joyful. They constitute a vital part of well being.
Relationships can also be challenging. Poor relationships can lead to mental distress. Coping skills can help alleviate stress. Practicing gratitude and mindfulness can calm the monkey mind. Also, learning how conflict encourages people to communicate and solve problems is a trait of people with high emotional intelligence. Laughter, humor, and not taking yourself so seriously are simple ways to appreciate yourself and others. Hanging out with good friends tends to relieve stress, too. Simple stuff really.
What are your tips for relieving symptoms of stress and depression?
Dealing with self expression, regulation of moods and emotions as defined by emotional intelligence points to a direct link between EI and physical as well as psychological health. The higher your emotional intelligence, the better off you are mentally and physically. Compassion for ourselves and others, it would appear, is a huge part living a holistic, healthy life!