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Published on April 5, 2021

6 Most Important Emotional Intelligence Skills To Have

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6 Most Important Emotional Intelligence Skills To Have

Have you ever considered whether you are an emotionally intelligent person or not? Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to recognize our emotions and those of others and respond to them thoughtfully and effectively.[1] Having emotional intelligence skills is key to connecting with others and forming lasting relationships.

If you are struggling with improving your emotional intelligence or assessing your level of understanding, here are the 6 most important emotional intelligence skills that you should develop.

1. Strong Inner Confidence

Emotionally intelligent people can act and speak without second-guessing themselves. This stems from them being self-aware and trusting their intuitions. Being emotionally intelligent means that you are confident and can “talk the talk” and “walk the walk.”

You might say that you want to work out or start eating healthily, but to actually take the action and go to the gym requires a higher level of emotional intelligence. The next time you are thinking that you want to learn a new skill or maybe go to therapy, take a moment to consider what you need to make that jump from thought to action. It might be finding an accountability partner who will call you out when you are slacking, or perhaps using an exercise app to track your process.

Being proactive allows you to feel more self-assured, which gives you increased confidence in assessing the risks and rewards of your decisions. When you understand your emotions, you will find it easier to have conviction in your actions.

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2. Ability to Go With the Flow

Having the skill to adapt to different situations shows that you have a high level of emotional intelligence. If you can adjust your game plan without getting frustrated when a project doesn’t go as planned, it means you are in tune with your emotions.

Being able to go with the flow also means that you don’t get stuck in trying to fulfill checklists. If you plan your career or relationship goals and attempt to achieve them in a strict time frame, you may end up feeling disappointed and exhausted. Someone with good emotional intelligence skills understands when they have given it their all and allowed themselves to move on—even if the project is incomplete.

There will be times when calls take longer than expected or when technology doesn’t work as planned. Being flexible will give you more space for adjustments. To be more emotionally intelligent, remind yourself that life is fluid and that you only have control over your own decisions. You can be in charge of how much you allow outside factors, like people and unexpected circumstances, to impact your life. Emotionally intelligent people will not get rattled. Instead, they re-evaluate and push forward.

3. Selective Reacting

Another notable emotional intelligence skill is the capability to only react when it is necessary, effective, and thoughtful. It is easy to get caught up in your emotions and respond defensively when a friend tells you something that makes you feel angry or small. An emotionally intelligent person will have control over their energy and the power to listen, process, and then take action.

Whenever you receive an unnerving email or harsh criticism from someone, take the time to determine if there is any truth to what they are saying. From there, you can choose how you will react. Maybe a colleague’s words can shine a light on an area where you can improve, which allows you to grow. You can go back to that person with a new perspective and willingness to hear their feedback.

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On the other hand, you can also brush off what someone says if you know it is inaccurate. Being able to understand your emotions deeply and choosing when to react will guide you in elevating your emotional intelligence.

4. Recognizing Unhealthy Thoughts

This is a truly valuable emotional intelligence skill—identifying negative and unproductive thought patterns. An emotionally intelligent person recognizes when they are falling into a cycle of putting themselves down and can quickly switch gears.

For example, instead of dwelling on the thought that you may have made a bad impression on a new friend or overshared on a first date, stop your head from spinning out of control. If you let your imagination run away with you, then you will constantly be full of worry and despair.

Consider using a journal to become mindful of the harmful stream of words you repeat in your mind. What you say internally might be completely different than how you act and are perceived in the world. An emotionally intelligent person tries to align their inner reasonings with their external actions.

Along with putting your feelings into words, venting to someone and hearing the detrimental thoughts out loud can be a way of recognizing destructive patterns. Purging negativity will result in more joy and allow you to have control over your emotions.

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5. Seeing the Bigger Picture

Emotional intelligence also means being able to see beyond the present moment and visualizing the bigger picture. People with high emotional intelligence think through life adjustments and look down the line at how decisions might affect the future.

There are many ways to practice this skill in our daily lives. Before leaving a job, consider the risks and benefits. You might go online to explore other positions that are more in alignment with your purpose, or consider the salary and whether you will need additional schooling. If you are in a relationship and feel like it is no longer a good fit, then reflect on the bigger picture. Start by jotting down qualities you would love to have in your ideal partner. Moving on from that connection can lead to finding the person of your dreams.

Emotionally intelligent people can make life changes with confidence because they think through their actions. They are not as concerned with whether the grass will immediately be greener on the other side, but they recognize the value of carefully moving towards greater happiness and prosperity. Maintaining a broad perspective is an important emotional intelligence skill that will allow you to live a more fulfilling life.

6. Quick Processing Speed

Another important emotional intelligence skill is being able to not only quickly access your own emotions but other people’s emotions as well. This is essential because it helps you act effectively and with empathy towards others.

When someone shares their opinions, rather than blurting out the first thing that comes to mind, an emotionally intelligent person will make a rapid assessment of the other person’s perspective. To practice this skill, the next time you are speaking with someone, take a brief moment to consider who your audience is, any stress they might be under, and the purpose of the conversation. You will then be able to carry out a thoughtful discussion where you know what you say is landing on the other person in the right way.

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An emotionally intelligent person also figures out the best communication method. Sometimes, writing an email is more effective than talking about it in person. This will also strengthen your relationship with coworkers, friends, and family because you take time to quickly put yourself in their shoes before speaking. Quick processing speed will assist you in communicating more effectively.

Final Thoughts

Emotional intelligence is a concept that we can all work on for our entire lives. It allows you to lead a life that aligns with your true values. Once you begin the process of becoming more in tune with your emotions and thoughts, you will also find you are living at a higher vibration and carry out actions with intention. Challenge yourself to develop 2 or 3 of these skills in the coming months, and you will be proud of the personal growth that manifests.

More About Emotional Intelligence Skills

Featured photo credit: Caroline Veronez via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Positive Psychology: The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

More by this author

Nancy Solari

Nancy Solari is an accomplished CEO, life coach, and motivational speaker.

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Published on October 15, 2021

Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

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Does Anxiety Make You Tired And Why?

When you think of anxiety, several scenarios may come to mind: the endless tossing and turning of a restless night, dread over potential future events, pandemic-related overwhelm, or full-blown panic attacks. Even if you’re not diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you’ve likely experienced anxiety symptoms at some point in your life. In these situations, you might feel a queasiness in your stomach, racing heartbeat, excessive sweating, chest tightness, some tension in your jaw/neck/shoulders, or worrisome thoughts as you prepare for the worst possible scenario. But does anxiety also make you tired?

After experiencing these symptoms, you may indeed feel fatigued. The sensation could fall anywhere on the exhaustion spectrum, from feeling like you just ran a marathon and need to sleep for two days, to just a little worn down and wanting a quick nap to recover.

Below are 7 ways anxiety zaps your energy and how to restore it.

1. Stress Hormone Overload

Anxiety can make you tired via overloading your body with stress hormones. The “fight or flight” response is a key connection between anxiety and fatigue. In fact, this process is made up of three stages: Alarm, Resistance, and Exhaustion. Anxiety triggers our body systems to go into high alert. This is a natural, involuntary reaction that developed in the human brain for survival.

When humans lived with the real, imminent threat of being attacked by a predator, it made sense for our bodies to spring into action without much preparatory thought. Such dangers are rare in modern times, but our brains continue to respond in the same way they did thousands of years ago.

The hormones and chemicals that flood our bodies to prepare us for safety can both affect and be affected by several body systems, and this interaction itself contributes to exhaustion. Adrenaline and cortisol are the two most notable hormones to address here. First, adrenaline is sent out, tensing the muscles and increasing heart rate and blood pressure in preparation to run. Later in the stress response, cortisol is released, enhancing the brain’s use of glucose. This is one of our main fuel sources, so it’s no wonder this contributes to fatigue (see #2).

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You can regulate baseline levels of these stress hormones by regularly practicing yoga, breathwork, meditation, and/or engaging in aerobic exercise.[1] It’s easier to lean into these routines for relief during stress when you’ve already mastered using them during times when you feel calm.

2. Elevated Blood Sugar Levels

Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which is shown to be associated with anxiety in diabetic patients.[2] Many people who experience hyperglycemia report feeling tired all the time regardless of their quantity or quality of sleep, nutrition, or exercise.

Although this connection has shown more prevalent and prolonged effects in diabetics, it also occurs with nondiabetics exposed to psychiatric stress.[3] In fact, for all people, the natural stress response elevates blood pressure and heart rate as well as cortisol levels, all of which increase blood sugar levels.[4] This means that anxiety causes a double-hit of exhaustion related to blood sugar fluctuations.

Instead of reaching for comfort foods like chocolate during times of stress, take a calming walk around the block. Gentle movement alone is a great stress reliever that incidentally also helps to regulate blood sugars.[5]

3. Negative Mindset

Anxiety can also make you tired because of repetitive negative thinking (RNT), which is a common symptom of anxiety. RNT involves continuous thoughts via rumination (dwelling on sad or dark thoughts focused on the past) and worry (angst regarding the future). Some researchers argue that having a longtime habit of RNT can harm the brain’s capacity to think, reason, and form memories.[6] While the brain is busy using its energy stores to fuel negative thought patterns, the energy available for these other more productive endeavors is thereby reduced.

Negative thoughts can also disrupt or prevent healthy sleep patterns, keeping our minds racing at night and effectively wreaking havoc on daytime energy. (See #7)

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Reduce these patterns by reframing your feelings over anxious thoughts. Instead of staying stuck on “what if,” focus on what you can do in the here and now. What activity can you engage in for five minutes (or more) that brings you joy? What are you grateful for, no matter what’s going on around you?

4. Digestive Issues

It’s common for people to experience both intestinal and mental issues simultaneously. This suggests a strong connection between the central nervous system and the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which is known as the gut-brain axis.[7] Simply put, what happens in our digestive tract (and as a result of what we eat) affects the brain and vice versa.

The gut microbiota is a complex population of GI tract microorganisms. When its balance is altered, the body can develop conditions that affect the gut-brain-endocrine relationship. The endocrine system produces and manages adrenaline, for starters. And the gut bacteria’s production of feel-good hormones (serotonin and dopamine—see #5) ties into this relationship as well.

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors are also found in gut bacteria. GABA is a natural brain relaxant that makes us feel good by helping the body to unwind after a stress-induced neurotransmitter release (e.g., cortisol and adrenaline). When GABA activity is low, it leads to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and mood disorders. These are just a few of the manifestations that demonstrate how gut bacteria influences behavior. All of these contribute to feeling both physically and mentally tired.

You can minimize the symptoms of depression and anxiety by keeping your gut microbiota balanced with probiotic-rich fermented foods. Yogurt with live cultures, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, miso soup, and tempeh are great foods to include in your diet.[8]

5. Depression

Anxiety and depression often go hand in hand. Research continues to indicate a complex relationship between depression and decreased serotonin—a key neurotransmitter for regulating mood and feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Anxiety is also a direct symptom of serotonin deficiency. Serotonin helps with healthy sleep, mood, and digestion.

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Serotonin is produced in the gut, almost exclusively, at an estimated 90 percent. However, a small quantity is also produced in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain that is pivotal for transmitting energy balance signals. This small cone-shaped structure receives and relays signals transmitted via the vagus nerve from the gastrointestinal tract. It has a central role in mediating stress responses, regulating sleep, and establishing circadian rhythms. It senses and responds to a myriad of circulating hormones and nutrients, directly affecting our mood and energy.[9]

Dopamine is another mood-boosting neurochemical that is depleted in depression. It creates feelings of alertness and wakefulness and, when the body is operating normally, is released in higher amounts in the morning (allowing for daytime energy) and lower at night (preparing for healthy sleep). Stress is one factor that can deplete dopamine, thereby leading to depression, sleep disorders, and fatigue.

Studies show that dopamine levels in the brain can be elevated by increasing dietary intake of tyrosine and phenylalanine.[10] Both of these amino acids are naturally found in protein-rich foods like turkey, beef, eggs, dairy, soy, peas, lentils, and beans.

6. Breathing Problems

Breathlessness and anxiety are closely linked, and this is one of the ways anxiety can make you feel tired. Anxiety can lead to shallow breathing, which can cause shortness of breath while feeling breathless can exacerbate anxiety.[11] It’s a vicious cycle that often leads people to take rapid and shallow breaths, breathing into their upper chest and shoulders.

This type of breathing minimizes oxygen intake and usability. Despite comprising only two percent of the body, our brains consume 20 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Oxygen is fuel for both mental and physical tasks. When breathing patterns compromise healthy oxygen levels, this can cause considerable fatigue.[12]

End the anxiety-fatigue cycle with focused breathing exercises. It’s important to practice this regularly while you’re not experiencing anxiety or stress, as this will help you to be prepared should a moment of breathless anxiety hit unexpectedly.

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There are several different styles of breathing exercises. There’s an easy one to try, called “Resonant Breathing.” Simply breathe in slowly through your nose as you count to five, then exhale for a count of five. Repeat this for a few minutes. It’s helpful to bring your awareness to any tension, deliberately relaxing your neck, shoulders, and jaw in particular.

7. Sleep Issues

Most of the elements we’ve already discussed inherently tie into sleep issues, which is often the reason why anxiety can make you feel tired. But it’s important to note that this is not always a directly linear cause-and-effect process. Much of it is cyclic. If we don’t get enough quality sleep, we increase our risk of excessive cortisol production, elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels, depressed mood and mindset disorders, and dysregulation of appetite/craving hormones that affect our digestive health.

Sleep is obviously the number one antidote to feeling tired as a result of anxiety. But at the same time, many of these elements—including anxiety itself—lead to less-than-restorative sleep. We can improve our energy levels by addressing each element discussed here, as well as taking a proactive approach to our sleep health.

One simple habit to help recalibrate your circadian rhythm for healthy sleep patterns is to get outside in the morning. Sunlight exposure in the early hours of the day regulates melatonin production, helping us to feel sleepy at night.

You Don’t Have to Live Your Life Anxious and Exhausted

Times of extreme stress, like driving in heavy traffic or nerve-wracking situations like public speaking, can easily induce an anxiety response. Even “normal” everyday stressors, like feeling overwhelmed with work and home responsibilities, can build up to anxious feelings over time.

Our bodies’ response to stress and anxiety affects many of its functions in complex ways. When we unravel the interconnections of these processes, we can see how each part plays an intrinsic role in contributing to fatigue. By addressing each element individually, we can make simple lifestyle changes that resolve anxiety and diminish the ways it makes us tired as a result.

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More Tips on Coping With Anxiety

Featured photo credit: Joice Kelly via unsplash.com

Reference

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