an emotionally intelligent way to manage stress

Adopting an emotionally intelligent way to manage stress will help you develop a skills set that goes far beyond the immediate problem of handling stress and pressure.

Stress is a problem in a lot of people’s lives. Despite an army of stress advisers, self-help books and courses, and sound advice from the medical profession, many are still no closer to finding the way out of the stress conundrum.

Self-awareness is one of the five ‘competencies’ Emotional Intelligence. Coincidentally, they are also the main building blocks of good stress management.

The essential problem is this: We live in a wealthy technological age where we have all we need at our disposal. One of the costs of this is a steadily rising tide of demands and pressures which produce stresses in us. Whether it is work, study or simply the general, daily demands on our time, there’s a lot to do and have, and it’s tempting to try and have it all!

Maybe you can change what’s causing the stress, maybe you can’t. Either way, it makes sense to learn about how to conduct yourself in the best ways possible. Some basic pointers will help you take an intelligent step towards managing yourself and your emotions.

Use your Emotional Intelligence

It doesn’t take a lot of work or an in-depth course to make this happen. You probably have all the skills you need, and with a bit of focus you an harness your Emotional Intelligence to improve your life generally, and bolster your stress coping mechanisms specifically.

There are several ways that an emotionally intelligent way to manage stress can help you boost your resilience to stress and handle yourself better. 

Self-awareness is one of the five ‘competencies’ of EI (the other four are below). Coincidentally, it is also the main building block of good stress management. 

Self-awareness helps you notice as stress levels begin to rise, which means you are better able to take action to reduce the stress. Move away from the stressor, or engage in stress reduction activity  (for example, abdominal breathing), before the stress becomes unmanageable.

Empathy makes it more likely that your relationships with others will be less stressful because you’ll have insight and understanding about their opinions and behaviours. Empathy fuels connection with others. Rather than differences causing stressful disagreements and conflict, you are more likely to be able to talk it through with them if you empathise.

Social skills give you the edge in these interactions too. Harmonious connection with others is in itself stress-reducing, and if you are well-connected in that way you are more likely to be able to ask for advice, help or support in dealing with stressful events like workload and high demand. While on this point, unresolved conflict causes tension and is a stressor. You may think that you’ve put it out of your mind, but your mind has a way of worrying ‘behind the scenes’, so settling differences is part of an emotionally intelligent way to manage stress.

Self-control is another key competence in both EI and stress reduction. While self-awareness gives you insight into your own stress levels, self-control means you can control your emotions by self-soothing, distracting yourself or reframing situations so they have a less stressful impact on you.

Motivation, the fifth competence of EI, gives you the impetus to take these and other steps in combatting stress. One often noted the effect of increased tension and pressure is that as we begin to get stressed we lose headway and feel unable to do anything about it. By contrast, the ability to self-motivate is a decisive factor in taking steps to manage your stress.

So there you have it. Pay attention to these five aspects in your life, review them regularly, and use and develop the skills as much as you can.

I’m a psychologist, coach, and therapist. All my work is aimed at enabling people to improve personal aspects of their lives and work.