Managing Stress with Emotional Intelligence

As April is ‘Stress Awareness Month’, we’re discussing the connection between emotional intelligence and stress management, particularly how emotional intelligence can help you to manage your stress.

Emotional intelligence is a set of social and emotional skills that influence how you perceive and understand ourselves, how you express ourselves to others, how you develop and maintain relationships and, of real interest here, how you cope with challenges.

Emotional intelligence begins with a focus on self-awareness – if you want to improve in any of the areas involved, you must be aware of your constantly-changing emotions, the situations you find ourselves in and the influences impacting us.

So, when it comes to stress – if you want to improve your ability to manage stress, you must be aware of how you’re feeling, difficult or stressful situations you find yourself in and the influences impacting your feelings of stress.

To help develop this awareness, you can ask yourself:

What things do you feel stressed about?  Or anxious about?

How does stress manifest in you –  physically, cognitively and behaviourally?

Are there types of stress that you are more comfortable with than others?

Are there times when stress helps your job performance?  Or times when it hinders your job performance?

How do your feelings of stress impact other people? Was there a time where your colleagues were affected by the way you were feeling?

A greater understanding or awareness can form the backdrop to creating strategies and actions that can help you manage stress and cope with challenges.  You might like to be able to adapt your emotions, thoughts and behaviours to unfamiliar or unpredictable circumstances.  Or to be able to cope with stressful or difficult situations.  Or to be resilient and optimistic in the face of setbacks.

To think about possible strategies, try asking yourself:

What circumstances are stressful for you? Do you proactively manage these circumstances?

What strategies do you use to cope with stress?

Was there a time when it was important for you to keep calm under pressure?  What skills or techniques did you use?

How do you deal with stressful situations at work?

Hopefully these questions can help you become more aware of your feelings of stress and help you begin to think about strategies you can use to cope with challenges!