Managing Stress Through Emotional Intelligence

Stress Management Tips

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and one of the greatest factors that significantly affects our mental health—whether at work, home, or school—is this thing called stress.

Stress, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation. Stress is a natural human response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives. Since it is a "natural response that prompts us to address challenges and threats in our lives," stress is actually not bad at all. In fact, some stress may actually be good for you.

When is Stress Good for You?

Plants bloom and bear fruit when they undergo stress due to pruning, weather changes, temperature changes, etc. Similarly, stress causes us to bloom and grow by activating our body and brain, giving us the energy to complete tasks. So, whenever you finish those tasks or have already resolved the issue causing you stress, the stress goes away.

In fact, researchers from the University of California found that brief, intermittent stress can enhance alertness as well as cognitive and behavioural performance​. Another study also suggests that reframing our perception of stress can positively boost cognitive function and lower anxiety levels​.

We call this type of stress "Eustress." It is both healthy and beneficial, as it propels people forward and helps them grow.

When Does Stress Become Harmful?

Stress becomes harmful when it is unmanaged and never subsides. When stress is unmanaged, it turns into anxiety, which can manifest as always feeling jittery and unsettled.

This kind of stress is called "distress," and studies show that this type of stress is very unhealthy and can damage your ability to perform.

Distress strains the body and can produce negative physical side effects, such as body aches, migraines, skin and digestive issues. These issues not only affect your health but may also affect the quality of your life.

Distress also leads to decreased productivity at work due to procrastination, distraction, or overanalysis. People experiencing distress have problems with personal and professional relationships as the stress affects their attitudes and behaviours toward others. Their stress causes them to often perceive conversations and input from others as negative and unnecessary and might make them irritable, rushed, and impatient.


Recognising Chronic Stress

If you feel some stress from time to time, but easily return to a calm state afterwards, you're likely experiencing good stress. However, if you find yourself stressed most or all of the time, and it's impacting your health or relationships, you are likely experiencing chronic, unhealthy stress.


The Solution: Social and Emotional Intelligence

Social and Emotional intelligence (SI and EI) refers to the ability to recognise, understand, and navigate your own emotions and those of others in a healthy way. It includes a range of competencies, including self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and stress management. Research has shown that individuals with high EQ are better equipped to handle stress, navigate complex relationships, and succeed in their careers.

Stress management, as a competency of emotional intelligence, gives you the ability to work calmly under pressure. People with this emotional intelligence competency are able to:

  • Become immediately aware of their feelings of rising stress.
  • Know that stress in life is inevitable and can calm themselves and deal with it productively.
  • Influence stressful events and act to improve the immediate situation.
  • Maintain composure and control aggressive, hostile, and irresponsible behaviour.
  • Know when to push back hard and when to let go.
  • Have vitality and strength in them.
  • Have developed a high tolerance for frustration and "don't sweat the small stuff.

Developing Stress Management

Stress management
is a valuable competency that enables anyone to balance good and bad stress. Here are some developmental tips to help you develop this competency and live a healthy, happy, and balanced life:

  • Recognises that stress is a part of daily life and thinks of it as a chance to grow.
  • Become aware—in the moment—of your reactions to stress and choose a healthier response.
  • Expect change; learn to anticipate and tolerate uncertainty.
  • Find a relaxation technique that works for you and practice it regularly (e.g., deep breathing, meditation, relaxation tapes, listening to music, taking a walk, yoga, a hobby, reading a book, watching a movie, getting a massage, exercising, Tai Chi, visualising a happy, stress-free time).
  • Seek support from a professional Social and Emotional Intelligence coach or trainer.
  • Develop assertive behaviours; speak up on your own behalf, and don't accept abusive or bullying behaviour.
  • Be healthy. Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet daily; take care of yourself.
  • Talk with friends or someone you can trust about your worries/problems.
  • Budget your time wisely. Leave enough time to get to your destination (the airport, your next meeting), so you don't feel stressed while getting there.
  • Plan ahead, avoid procrastination, set boundaries on your time, and insist that others honour them.
  • Set realistic goals, prioritise, do your best, and let it go.
  • Try not to control everyone and everything; assume control only over what's within your control.
  • Stop blaming yourself.
  • Focus on the positive and the good.

Embracing Stress with Social and Emotional Intelligence

Stress is an inevitable part of life, but it doesn't have to be detrimental. By understanding the difference between eustress (good stress) and distress (bad stress), you will be able to better manage your stress levels.

Developing social and emotional intelligence is a key factor in this process, enabling you to navigate stress in a healthier way. By incorporating strategies to enhance your social and emotional intelligence and stress management techniques, you will improve your overall well-being and productivity. Whether in the workplace, at home, or in your personal relationships, mastering these skills is essential for leading a peaceful and balanced life.

We are Here to Help

At  People Builders, we have a team of expert trainers and coaches who will help you and your team develop Stress Management and many other Social and Emotional Intelligence competencies. Contact us  today for a quick chat to see how we can partner with you to train and coach you and your team. If you want to become a certified trainer and coach in Social and Emotional Intelligence or Extended DISC Behavioural Profiling, find out how by visiting the People Builders Institute website.







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