Emotional Intelligence Can be Helpful in Managing Stress

Stress that becomes chronic and lasts for months or years can put your health at risk. However, what can you do? Emotional Intelligence could come to your rescue.
Emotional Intelligence Can be Helpful in Managing Stress
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

Emotional intelligence is a useful, necessary, and healthy resource for managing stress. Indeed, in a reality that’s increasingly demanding, complex, and marked by uncertainty, it’s always a good idea to have an “ace up your sleeve” when it comes to your psychological resources. To this end, emotional intelligence is easy to apply and, if you get used to taking advantage of it, you’ll find that your life will take a totally different course.

Eduard Punset pointed out that your brain tends to ensure that your conception of the world is reliable and trusting. If this weren’t the case, stress would kill you. Indeed, to feel good, you need to perceive that you have a certain amount of control over your environment and that, despite pressures or problems, you’re in charge.

However, problems occur when your mind becomes aware that the problem or problems that you’re having to face are equal to or exceed your resources for coping with them. At that moment, the calm in your brain evaporates and you start to feel threatened. You feel pressure in your chest and start to panic, telling yourself, “this is completely beyond me and I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

In this kind of scenario, you should resort to your emotional intelligence. Let’s find out why.

“Whenever we feel stressed out, that’s a signal that our brain is pumping out stress hormones. If sustained over months and years, those hormones can ruin our health and make us a nervous wreck.”

-Daniel Goleman-

Crying man sitting on the floor thinking about Emotional Intelligence to manage stress

Five tips to achieve emotional intelligence for managing stress

Emotional intelligence is defined as a set of skills that allows you to better identify, understand, and manage your emotions. It sounds like a simple idea, however, putting it into practice isn’t so easy. In fact, many people, never manage it.

However, being emotionally intelligent doesn’t make you more successful or happier. It establishes a foundation with which to better regulate your behavior and even your power. Furthermore, it improves your relationships with others. Thus, when it comes to stress, you’re facing a tool with tremendous potential for improving your psychological well-being.

Research studies, such as those conducted by the universities of Worcester and Manchester (UK) indicate that emotional intelligence is effective in managing acute stress. In other words, it’s useful in those cases which haven’t yet become chronic. In fact, it’s a resource that allows you to prevent states of greater mental exhaustion.

Let’s take a look at some keys to help:

1. Emotional self-awareness, what do you feel right now?

Emotional self-awareness is the ability to get in touch with your psychophysiological states. It means identifying your anguish, anger, fear, sadness, and disappointment. That’s because you often perform on“automatic pilot”, without taking into account what’s happening inside you. In these cases, demand exceeds your available resources and you reach extreme situations.

In order to be emotionally self-aware you need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I feel right now?
  • What happens in my body and my mind when stress takes over?
  • What are the triggers that make me feel this way?
  • Could I do something right now to feel better?
  • What can I do in the long term to prevent this from happening again?

2. Self-regulation, emotions are your allies

Self-regulation is the basic pillar of emotional intelligence for managing stress. It allows you to put your emotions to work for you and not against you. This competence requires time to master, but the sooner you start to practice it the better. Here are the keys:

  • Emotional reconsideration. How do you interpret everything that happens to you? Do you intensify it too much? How can you reinterpret it to make a particular emotion more functional and less disturbing?
  • You should also analyze your thoughts. Are you perhaps too demanding? Are you a perfectionist?
  • You also need to detect all those thoughts that begin with “I should” and “I have to”. They often exert unnecessary pressure on you.
  • It’s also recommended that you learn to differentiate the probable from the unlikely. Are you perhaps worried about things that’ll never really happen?

3. Motivation, the desire to generate changes that benefit you

If you want to regulate and manage stress effectively, you need to implement changes in your routines. Having time for leisure and rest is a priority. Being able to have your own space in which to develop your hobbies is essential. As is setting motivating goals on the horizon.

Sometimes, stress prevents you from seeing beyond your pressures and obligations. Looking up and setting exciting new goals instantly improves your mood and gives you perspective.

4. Self-empathy, an inner embrace charged with compassion

In the development of emotional intelligence for managing stress, you also need self-empathy. What does this resource consist of? As a matter of fact, it’s something extremely simple, basic, and healthy. Self-empathy means connecting with yourself to treat yourself with compassion, thus giving you what you need. This emotional effort, loaded with kindness and affection towards yourself, directly promotes your well-being.

Man happy for having learned Emotional Intelligence techniques to manage stress

5. Social skills

Social skills combine effectively with emotional intelligence in the management of stress. How? In the following ways:

  • They allow you to be more assertive in order to communicate appropriately and express your needs.
  • You learn to apologize, to convince others, and to ask for help. Furthermore, you manage to set boundaries more effectively.
  • They help you negotiate and handle interpersonal problems effectively.
  • They assist you in knowing how to respond to threatening or contradictory opinions and knowing how to act in the face of group pressure, etc.

Finally, although it’s true that developing these skills takes time, the process is always enriching and can really turn your life around. Why not give it a try?

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  • Lea RG, Davis SK, Mahoney B, Qualter P. Does Emotional Intelligence Buffer the Effects of Acute Stress? A Systematic Review. Front Psychol. 2019 Apr 17;10:810. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00810. PMID: 31057453; PMCID: PMC6478766.
  • Yamani, N., Shahabi, M., & Haghani, F. (2014). The relationship between emotional intelligence and job stress in the faculty of medicine in Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Journal of advances in medical education & professionalism2(1), 20–26.