As we have discussed in previous blogs, emotional intelligence is a set of disciplines, a set of protocols, and a set of principles.
Emotional intelligence can be listed having a number of different headings depending on who you speak to but, the basis for EQ comprise;
- Self-awareness and management
- Relationship-awareness and management
- Social skills
- Empathy and sympathy
To be aware of ourselves, how we feel in any given moment, how prevailing emotions affects us (both negative AND positive), how we manage ourselves and our emotions are all ‘key’ to living a life happier than in ignorance. Our health improves and has positive levels, our relationships (both personal and professional) improves.
But all this is what we preach to you all anyway and what we advocate for EVERYONE. Our awareness Distance Learning programs help and benefit everyone and our Consultancy is there for everyone to take advantage of. Coaching in whatever form can and does have beneficial effects but when focused in EQ areas living and professional performances are raised.
But this time of the year we see sharp rises in stress levels that are driven by emotions and by personal circumstances.
We all know what it’s like to feel stress and to be stressful, but at this time of year it can become almost intolerable and unbearable for some. Within a working environment stress can affect performance and relationships with colleagues and associates. At home, relationships can and are frequently strained and suffer. All this, on top of the financial crisis that we all face daily and there begins the recipe and ingredients for rough times ahead.
So, try to imagine or recognise (someone within your circle of family or friends or colleagues), who is really stressed out and now picture in your mind their body language; a person slumped, someone holding their head in their hands as if their head was or is about to explode, a person in tears, a pale wan complexion, tired eyes from lack of sleep, an air of greyness about them. Stress isn’t something that just affects the body of the mind. It affects the physical body as well, it adversely affects health and well being and rational thought. Many medical studies around the world show that stress depresses the mind as well as the body and our depressed and suppressed immune systems clearly prove this as fact. Christmas comes during winter and we need to be operating at our optimum to resist so much negativity that life throws at us. Frequently we find ourselves succumbing to viral and bacterial infections because our immune systems are not up to defending and fighting our (health giving) corner.
Long-term stress can and does have even wider implications. Medical experts believe and know that long periods of stress can and does alter the body’s immune system in ways that are associated with serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Interviews with Professors in Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences reveal “when something sets off the complicated series of physiological responses in the body the resulting stress response involves a series of more than 1400 known physiochemical reactions in the body. Some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress includes headaches, backaches, insomnia, and tightness of muscles especially in the neck and shoulders, indigestion, loss of appetite or excessive eating and increased heart rates. The physiological effects of stress can also affect the brain, the endocrine (hormone) system, gastrointestinal systems and cardiovascular systems, to name but a few. Stress seems also to have the greatest impact on the health of individuals who already have poor immune functions due to age, debilitation or disease, or in individuals who have been chronically stressed for reasons other than health.”
Disease: What a descriptive word/term this is? When we relate disease to stress or illness it should be noted that disease becomes (or it may always be so) dis – ease meaning a negative influence in our ‘ease’ in life.
The run-up to Christmas is notorious for causing stress on a much larger-than-normal scale. While everyone seems to think back at this time of year with affection ~ the Christmas carol songs, the tinsel, family get-togethers, the opening or presents, etc, etc, etc and then of the good food and eating and drinking and parties ~ the festive season also comes with spending a lot of time and money and seemingly endless organising. Remember last year all those crowded shopping centres, the queues in the supermarkets, horrendous traffic queues (even worse than rush hours) and lots, lots more.
We can and should blame the media and advertising and marketing and the sheer commercialisation of Christmas, which has been diverted away from the original reason for Christmas in the first place. But stress is part and (Christmas) parcel of the proceedings. A parcel we open every time we wake in the morning in the (extending) run up to Christmas. Unfortunately, at this time of the year, few of us can afford to allow stress to lower our resistance to illness say. What tends to happen to many people however, whilst stress levels are high, our bodies manage somehow, to keep going, as if running on pure adrenaline. Then, as soon as our stress start to drop ~ post-Christmas ~ we become more open to viral and bacterial infections and we suffer from colds, flu or other conditions such as digestive and skin problems.
So what can we do to make sure that stress doesn’t ruin your winter this year?
Whatever your age or your state of health, there are ways to reduce the damage that stress inflicts. The below are just a few suggestions but the most important message we can give to you is to be emotionally aware, emotionally intelligent, and emotionally strong for with these attributes, you will most assuredly see improvements in the whole of your life. So, the following are just tips on what you can do (in addition to the EQ issues) to be calm and happier this festive season.
Yes, meditate. Lambda Mi also has Distance Learning and Awareness programs you can purchase and download. Contact us today.
To meditate then. In experiments all over the world it has been shown that people who meditate regularly and properly may reduce their cortisol levels by an average of 20 percent.
Cortisol, for all those of you who don’t know, is the chemical produced by your adrenal glands that’s known as a stress hormone, high levels of which are known to play a big part in health issues and problems associated with chronic stress.
Meditation is an established practice that has many health giving benefits which includes a stronger immune system, stress reduction, calmer lifestyles and improved sleep patterns.
Contact us today for your issue of our Distance Learning and Awareness program for effective Meditation.
Before we leave this subject, don’t forget “Breathing exercises”. If you are fearful, worried, anxious or feeling panicky, try this little exercise; breathe in to the count of 7 (slowly) and out on the count of 11 (slowly). It has been found that relaxing hormones are released on exhalation. This of course is just a short ‘quick fix’ but it should be remembered that correct posture and breathing bring so very many benefits and should be practiced regularly along with meditation (they should be incorporated in to the same exercise of course).
Use your imagination
If you’re not sure that meditation is for you (it should be, it’s for all and everyone of both genders and for every age group, ethnicity and abilities), try a technique called ‘visualisation’. Imagine yourself in a peaceful setting or something or somewhere that will keep your mind focused. Visualisation also helps to divert the mind from stressful events. To get the most out of ‘visualisation’, try to include your other senses too. For instance, if you are imagining you are sitting in a green woodland with pine and deciduous trees and woodland flowers, imagine what it smells like, what sounds you can hear, what feelings on your skin as a gentle breeze happens by, what sort of birdsong you hear. All of these things are transporting and can help in reducing stress and diverting your mind from worrisome things.
Yes, we really mean, chew gum. Chewing gum may help to defuse tension. This is confirmed in a study published by researchers at Northumbria University. By measuring cortisol levels in saliva, the researchers discovered that gum chewing volunteers had levels that were around 12 percent lower than in others who didn’t chew gum. So, keep a pack of chewing gum in your pocket and chew whenever you feel a stressful situation coming on and don’t worry, you won’t turn into Sir Alex Ferguson over night.
Reveal the cause
If you are not sure what’s causing the stress or why you are stressed keep a mood journal or diary. This may help you to identify where, when, what and with whom you are getting tense. Once you know exactly what’s causing the problem, it will be easier to plan and address remedial actions to deal with them.
Relax to music
Japanese scientists have discovered that patients who were due or scheduled to have a colonoscopy ~ which can be particularly stressful for some ~ had much lower levels of cortisol when they listened to music than when they had the examination in a quiet room. Listening to music has a measureable calming effect on the brain. Of course, it depends on what type of music you listen to so choose something relaxing, calming rather than heavy metal or dance music, for instance.
Indulge and have a cuppa
Have a cup of tea ~ no, not coffee, but tea.
Coffee raises your cortisol levels. Coffee is ideal when you want to get going in the mornings or when you have a difficult task to do and you are perhaps feeling a little low in the ‘energy’ field.
Tea, on the other hand, whether it is green, black or oolong, contains a substance called ‘theanine’, which has a calming effect on the brain. According to Japanese researchers, just 50mg of ‘theanine’, the amount you would find in 2 or 3 cups of tea, is enough to stimulate the production of alpha brain waves which signify a relaxed, but still alert, state of mind (so in other words you are relaxed and yet alert but not sleepy).
People who take part in religious activities may have lower levels of cortisol than those who don’t, so say researchers at the University of Mississippi, which is great news for those who are actively involved in their church, chapel or other religious centre.
If religion isn’t for you however, you can still take advantage of the cortisol lowering effects of spirituality. Many people find that nature brings out their spirituality side for instance.
As we have said, stress is largely negative and can affect us adversely. Stress related dis-ease is one the highest affecting factors in modern living.
Too much stress in the workplace is never a good thing whether you are male or female. But a new survey by Medicash says that more men than women are affected by stress.
According to the surveys findings, 20 percent of men had said they had taken at least 2 days sick leave in the past month as a direct result of work-related stress. One in five also admitted they needed an alcoholic drink every day after work to help them to relax a little.
But stress related health problems appear to affect more women than men, the survey found. Around 45 percent of men said they had headaches because of stress compared with 69 percent of women. Similarly, only around 40 percent of men said they had sleeping difficulties caused by stress at work compared with 57 percent of women.
So, what the figures say is that significant proportions of both men and women are adversely affected by stress but neither group has much in the way of ‘tool boxes’ from which to use appropriate tools.
Emotional intelligence coupled with some of the suggestions (especially meditation) is ‘key’ to addressing stress related issues so that they don’t become health and well-being issues.
Remember, you are all unique and important people/individuals and need to look after yourselves as well as those around you. Have a Very Merry Christmas and remember, make it as stress free as possible and then, in the New Year, you should undertake more EQ awareness training and education.