How Emotional Intelligence Reduces Stress
Category: Personal Development | Reading Time: 7 minutes to read
Emotional intelligence or emotional quotient refers to a person’s ability to understand his or her emotions, express those emotions thoughtfully, and handle interpersonal relationships with empathy.
Emotions bring a variety of feelings to us, in different degrees of intensity. Emotions can override our objective judgment in situations, affecting the quality and objectivity of our thoughts and influencing major aspects of our life.
When emotions are not in the positive spectrum, and our negative energy brings about irrational thoughts, they become a hindrance to us. This is when emotions can hold us back from success and propel us into bad relationships, stress, anxiety, and depression.
The good news is that unlike IQ (intelligence quotient) which is often a genetically influenced trait, EQ can be further developed by almost anyone. Of the two, EQ has a higher impact on a person’s personal success, because EQ determines leadership abilities, interpersonal skills, and most importantly, it reduces stress and brings about a better quality of life.
Research has shown that people with high emotional intelligence experience less anxiety, have better moods, and generally feel less worried in times of tension and stress. These individuals have developed an enhanced ability to engage their emotions alongside rational thinking.
As a result, people with higher EQ have grown more comfortable with challenges and have a more composed reaction to stressful situations. A team of Belgian researchers who studied emotional intelligence uncovered two primary reasons why a high EQ better deals with stress.
Emotionally Intelligent People See Their Environment Differently
People with higher EQ behave differently because they appear to evaluate their environment differently as well. Given similar challenges to deal with, they have a greater tendency to look at the brighter side of things. Their resilience and trust in self and others mean they expect that any situation can be resolved, one way or another.
This mindset acts as a barrier to despair. As a way of dealing with and countering any negative state, they are able to invoke pleasant thoughts and memories. They’re better at focusing more on thinking of deliberate steps (action) to take, and they put things into perspective to better deal with the situation.
It’s unlikely for high EQ individuals to wallow in their emotions, or lose precious time and energy catastrophizing the issue.
In that way, they’re able to deal with a challenge positively and come up with better solutions. In summary, emotionally intelligent individuals are more positive, proactive and resourceful about finding solutions.
By maintaining perspective and objectivity, they don’t get sidetracked by emotion, enabling focus on what is important in the middle of a highly tense and stressful situation.
Emotional intelligence allows you to choose a problem-focused coping strategy in the middle of a challenge.
Another common theme amongst emotionally intelligent individuals is that they do not run away from the issue at hand. Many people tend to avoid their problems by ignoring them, hoping that time, or something, will bring a solution to the problem. Behind this behavior is a fear of, or unreadiness to face the challenge.
The truth is that most people are unprepared when they have a new difficulty or challenge thrown at them. What sets emotionally intelligent individuals apart is that they deliberately elect to address the problem head-on. The approach of solving problems directly and facing challenges head-on works positively for everyone, with rare exceptions.
As people actively solve their problems by facing them and not avoiding them, stressful feelings are also dramatically reduced. This is because the act of coming up with a strategy, and taking necessary action makes them feel more in control of the situation.
Avoiding problems and challenges doesn’t make them go away. When you have an awareness of a problematic situation, there will always be a lurking, burdensome feeling behind it that something is unresolved. This contributes to negative emotions of anxiety, fear, and worry.
The bad feelings get amplified and ultimately become another source of stress. This doubles the stress – the problem itself and the stress you are experiencing from avoiding it. Emotionally intelligent individuals further avoid this type of anxiety and limit stress by going with a solution-focused approach.