Emotional Health by KIM Magazine
Getting into the depths of Emotional Intelligence has meant having a brief look at what it meant for our general well being. Creating Cultures that have people with high levels of Emotional Intelligence has been known to support better well being of employees. According to a study conducted by CapGemini Research Institute, organisations that invested in training of their employees in programmes that focused or included the elements of Emotional Intelligence, saw better Emotional and Mental Wellbeing of their employees.
Due to its relationship in particular with stress and emotional management, Emotional Intelligence may have a strong influence on health and performance. Regarding health, given the financial impact of stress and burnout in organizations, training in Emotional Intelligence seems a critical aspect to consider. A meta-analysis by Schutte, Malouff, Thorsteinsson, Bhullar, and Rooke (2007) showed that Emotional Intelligence was related to a better health. In particular, Emotional Intelligence is associated with a lower risk of developing psychological disorders (Hertel and Schu, 2009; Lizeretti and Extremera, 2011), a lower tendency to experience burnout (Brackett, 2010), and a greater well-being (Extremera, Ruiz-Aranda, Pineda-Galán, and Salguero, 2011). A higher Emotional Intelligence is linked to reduced negative or damaging health-related behaviors:
So what is Emotional Health? There are many descriptions when you start to Google but the overall summary could be put as how a person is able to manage their thoughts, feelings, and emotions through the many phases of life. Emotional Health is not to be confused with Mental Health. Mental Health, according to the World Health Organisation is defined as “state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. It encompasses our Emotional, Psychological and Social Well Being. Emotional Health is a component to Mental health and is a contributor to Mental well being.
How we manage our emotions and the impact that our emotions have on us is something that we can only start to understand when we start to practice Emotional Self Awareness. A simple example at the workplace. When we carry out a task that is not successful, we may receive ‘a very curt message’ from ourimmediate supervisor. As a result of this, we experience emotions that we may equate to negative or unpleasant emotions. Someone with poor Emotional
Health, might choose to ruminate over these emotions. They might react to their colleagues in a manner that is not productive. Either lash out or withdraw all together. If this continues, it may bring a series of events that cause even more non-productive behaviour. They may fail to show up on time for other duties, perhaps say things that they may regret. This may lead to more difficult
situations and more painful emotions.
For us to grow in resilience, it is therefore important to understand and cultivate emotional Health strategies that allow us to better manage our moods and emotions for our own well being and productivity.
Some of the strategies that one can use are:
- Taking care of your core needs. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a well balanced and wholesome diet, exercising regularly and making time for social activities. This keeps you better prepared for life's stresses. My opinion is that this is so important, but is often the most overlooked. They are simple solutions to complex problems.
2. Growing in emotional awareness. Start with being curious about the emotions you are experiencing. Write them down. You could ask yourself questions like ‘why do I react this way or feel this way?’ You could also start noticing when certain emotions come up. List your emotions. How many more are you able to identify each day as you grow in Emotional Awareness? People high in Self awareness can perceive themselves accurately and how they come across. They are better at managing emotions as they can accurately perceive them and the impact that they will have on them.
3. Growing in Emotional Agility: People with high emotional agility are able to seek insights from their emotions. They notice them, and do not dwell on them. They are able to develop a way of better adapting and aligning to ensure well being and productivity. Exercising our Emotional system is also a way of allowing ourselves to accept our emotions with an open mind and not repress them. And we could do this by not avoiding situations of difficult emotions and allowing ourselves to experience all kinds of emotions, including the difficult ones, from a point of observance. An example is allowing ourselves to cry during a moving movie when we usually hold it all in.
4. Living with purpose or giving others purpose every day. Purpose doesn’t have to be that one big ideal that we strive for. Picking your goal/objective for the day and focusing on this, or cultivating a daily habit is a way of providing purpose to ourselves in small ways, each and every day.
There are other quick wins that can help us cultivate a more positive mindset and healthier emotional climate and they may include the following:
- Developing a gratitude check habit and sometimes a gratitude tracker. Recalling or naming things that you are grateful for is a proven technique in growing our resilience. And it cultivates a positive mindset.
2. Putting a smile on our faces and in the faces of those around us with kind words. This works like Magic! For you and others.
3. The practice of Mindfulness – being present to ourselves, our surroundings. Take time out to reflect, declutter the mind, take stock and gain new perspectives.
You can check for symptoms that you are struggling with your Emotional Health. There are people who have Mental health struggles but use Emotional Health strategies to get through the day. Therefore, if you feel like you are out of your depth in terms of feeling overwhelmed, tired and lethargic, dull, you should consider consulting with a professional counselor to get a correct diagnosis.
I will end here by saying that, Emotions are ‘little’ big things that we carry with us all the time. They are a fundamental part of who we are. It is therefore a very intelligent thing to start paying attention, learning different strategies on having better emotional health. For more information, you can visit the World Wide Web. There is a lot of material written on this one element.
Vicky Karuga is the Managing Director of Profiles International EA, A leading firm in the provision of psychometric assessments and Emotional Intelligence assessments and Training programmes in the East African Region.