Modern life is full of hassles, deadlines, frustrations and demands. For many people, stress is so commonplace that it has become a way of life. Stress isn’t always bad. In small doses, it can help you perform under pressure and motivate you to do your best. But when you’re constantly running in emergency mode, your mind and body pay the price. You can protect yourself by recognizing the signs and symptoms of stress and taking steps to reduce its harmful effects.
While some workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can interfere with your productivity and impact your physical and emotional health.
You can’t control everything in your work environment, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless—even when you’re stuck in a difficult situation. Finding ways to manage workplace stress isn’t about making huge changes or rethinking career ambitions, but rather about focusing on the one thing that’s always within your control: YOU.
Your emotions are contagious and stress has an impact on the quality of your interactions with others. The better you are at managing your own stress, the more you’ll positively affect those around you and the less other people’s stress will negatively affect you.
So what can you do to manage job stress better?
Instead of sounding like a broken record by saying try exercise, diet, meditation, yoga, getting enough sleep and being positive – let’s look at how ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (EQ) can help reduce job stress.
Let’s break down the above statement and you will be able to see more clearly how EQ will help.
Emotional Intelligence in the workplace has 4 major components:
- Self-awareness – The ability to recognize your emotions and their impact while using gut feelings to guide your decisions.
- Self-management – The ability to control your emotions and behaviour and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness – The ability to sense, understand, and react to other’s emotions and feel comfortable socially.
- Relationship management – The ability to inspire, influence, and connect to others and manage conflict.
Don’t resist change, accept it. Once you accept, your mind is clear and you can focus on what needs to be done – Amanda Ray
Breaking it down further and we find there are 5 key skills that you need to master in order to raise your emotional intelligence and manage stress at work –
- Realize when you’re stressed, recognize your particular stress response and become familiar with sensual cues that can rapidly calm and energize you. The best way to reduce stress quickly is through the senses: through sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. But each person responds differently to sensory input, so you need to find things that are soothing to you.
- Stay connected to your internal emotional experience so you can appropriately manage your own emotions. Your moment-to-moment emotions influence your thoughts and actions, so pay attention to your feelings and factor them into your decision making at work. If you ignore your emotions you won’t be able to fully understand your own motivations and needs, or to communicate effectively with others.
- Recognize and effectively use nonverbal cues and body language. In many cases, what we say is less important than how we say it or the other nonverbal signals we send out, such as eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gesture and touch. Your nonverbal messages can either produce a sense of interest, trust and desire for connection–or they can generate confusion, distrust and stress. You also need to be able to accurately read and respond to the nonverbal cues that other people send you at work
- Develop the capacity to meet challenges with humour. There is no better stress buster than a hearty laugh and nothing reduces stress quicker in the workplace than mutually shared humour. But, if the laugh is at someone else’s expense, you may end up with more rather than less stress.
- Resolve conflict positively. Resolving conflict in healthy, constructive ways can strengthen trust between people and relieve workplace stress and tension. When handling emotionally-charged situations, stay focused in the present by disregarding old hurts and resentments, connect with your emotions, and hear both the words and the nonverbal cues being used. If a conflict can’t be resolved, choose to end the argument, even if you still disagree.
Positive thinking won’t change your life in the long term. Only through self-reflection and awareness can we make true lasting changes – Amanda Ray
Why is Emotional Intelligence (EQ) so important?
As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships.
Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.
Did you know that Emotional Intelligence affects?
- Your performance at work. Emotional intelligence can help you navigate the social complexities of the workplace, lead and motivate others, and excel in your career. In fact, when it comes to gauging job candidates, many companies now view emotional intelligence as being as important as technical ability and require EQ testing before hiring.
- Your physical health. If you’re unable to manage your stress levels, it can lead to serious health problems. Uncontrolled stress can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility and speed up the aging process. The first step to improving emotional intelligence is to learn how to relieve stress.
- Your mental health. Uncontrolled stress can also impact your mental health, making you vulnerable to anxiety and depression. If you are unable to understand and manage your emotions, you’ll also be open to mood swings, while an inability to form strong relationships can leave you feeling lonely and isolated.
- Your relationships. By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’re better able to express how you feel and understand how others are feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge stronger relationships, both at work and in your personal life.
As you can see from the above list Emotional Intelligence governs your physical and mental health so it’s important to develop or improve upon your EQ.
To improve your emotional intelligence—and your decision-making abilities—you need to understand and manage your emotions. This is accomplished by developing key skills for controlling and managing overwhelming stress and becoming an effective communicator.