As we have discussed in previous blogs, emotional intelligence is a set of disciplines, a set of protocols, a set of principles and strategies.
Emotional intelligence can be listed as having a number of different headings depending on who you speak to but, the basis for EQ comprise of;
3. Relationship-awareness and management
5. Social skills
And as an addition;
6. Empathy and sympathy
To be aware of ourselves, how we feel in any given moment, how our prevailing emotions really do affect us (both negatively AND positively), how we manage ourselves and our emotions, are all ‘key’ to living a life happier than living in ignorance. Living in ‘ignorance’ of our emotional intelligence is very much like living a life under a remote control but where someone/something else has hold of the remote control. When we are proactively aware of our emotions, and of ourselves our health improves and moves up in to those positive levels, and in doing so, we then naturally start to positively influence our relationships (both personal and professional).
All of this is what we strongly suggest to you anyway, what we advocate for EVERYONE, because we know the benefits to be accrued. Our awareness Workshops and Distance Learning programs help and benefit everyone and our Consultancy is there for everyone to take advantage of. Coaching (helping, advising, supporting, influencing) in whatever form can and does have beneficial effects but when focused with EQ in mind, areas of living, working, playing and professional performances are raised.
But at this time of the year (we’ll call it the Festive Season) we see VERY sharp rises in stress levels that are driven by emotions, pressures, expectations, hopes, wishes and dreams and by our personal and financial circumstances.
Of course we all know what it’s like to feel stress and to be stressful (stressed out), but at this time of year it can become almost intolerable and unbearable for very many.
Within a working environment, stress can affect performance AND relationships, with colleagues and associates. At home, relationships can and are very frequently strained and suffer. All this on top of the financial crisis that we all face daily and we have 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 watch their body language;
• a person slumped over, in their chair, standing still, walking
• someone holding their head in their hands as if their head was or is about to explode,
• a person in tears, or near to tears or, embarrassingly trying to smile or laugh
• a pale/wan complexion, seemingly ‘drawn’ in complexion
• tired eyes from lack of sleep,
• a greyness about their pallor
Stress isn’t something that just affects the mind; it affects the whole physical body as well. It adversely affects the physical, mental health and well-being of the person and also influences (negatively) their rational thoughts. So very many confirming medical studies around the world show that stress depresses the mind as well as the body and can severely depress and suppress our immune systems … this is a very clearly proven fact.
Christmas comes after the preparatory autumnal days; days of increasing darkness, damp and cold nights and then, here it comes, winter. And during these times 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 scratch 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 in fact 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 responses involves a series of more than 1400 known physio-chemical reactions in the body.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress includes headaches, backaches, insomnia, 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, gastro-intestinal 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; having a negative influence on the ‘ease-iness’ in our 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, the ubiquitous dressed/decorated tree, family get-togethers, the opening of 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 and High streets, the huge surprising and incomprehensible queues in the supermarkets (because they are only closed for 2 days), horrendous traffic queues (even worse than rush hour or school run times) and lots, lots more.
We can and should blame the media in a large part, the interminable advertising and marketing and the sheer commercialisation of Christmas, which diverts 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 up in the morning in the (ever extending) run up to Christmas. The ‘run up’ starting earlier and earlier in the year and almost breaching our summer days and nights.
Unfortunately, at this time of the year, few of us can afford to allow stress to lower our resistance to illness. What tends to happen to many people is that while 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 then start to 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 Christmas and winter this year?
Whatever your age or your state of health, there are ways to reduce the damage that stress inflicts in us. The below are just a few suggestions but the most important message we can give to you is to be emotionally aware, emotionally intelligent, emotionally wise, and emotionally strong for, with these attributes, you will most assuredly see improvements in the wholesomeness of your life. 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.
To meditate then; in very many experiments all over the world it has been shown that people who meditate regularly and properly may/can/will 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 adverse health issues, and problems associated with chronic stress.
Meditation is an established practice that has many health giving benefits that includes a stronger immune system, increased stress reduction, calmer lifestyles and improved sleep patterns.
Contact us today for your issue of our Distance Learning and Awareness program for effective Meditation.
Use your imagination
If you’re not sure that meditation is for you (but it should be, it’s for everyone, of both genders and for every age group, culture, ethnicity and abilities), try a technique called ‘visualization’.
Imagine yourself in a peaceful setting, somewhere that will keep your mind focused. To visualize ‘peaceful settings’ (a recent holiday or concert or music, whatever it may be) also helps to divert the mind from present stressful events. To get the most out of ‘visualization’, 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 (the wind in the high canopies, the burbling stream, birdsong), what feelings you get on your skin as a gentle breeze happens by, what sort of birdsong you hear. All of these things are ‘transporting events’ 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 recently by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK. 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, very hopefully you won’t turn in to Sir Alex Ferguson over night. Oh, and by the way, if you do chew gum, please please please don’t dispose of it in the street, there’s enough discarded chewing gum on the pavements in towns and cities as it is.
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 or 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 or strategies to deal with them. Have both ‘set times’ during the day and evening that you will consciously consider your inner feelings, your inner state and also have ad hoc occasions that you do this little exercise as well. Make a note of the date, day, time and location and a very brief synopsis of what you feel and are recording.
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 or need to get going in the mornings, when energy is needed or when you have a difficult task to do and you are perhaps feeling a little low in your ‘energy’ field.
Tea, on the other hand, whether it’s 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 spiritual side for instance.
As we have said, stress is largely negative and can (and does) affect us adversely. Stress related dis-ease is one the biggest health affecting factors in modern living.
Too much stress in the workplace is never a good thing whether you are male or female. But new recent surveys say that (in fact) more men than women are affected by stress.
And according to other survey findings, 20 percent of men 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. 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 … whatever the figures and surveys say, it’s very important to note that significant proportions of both men and women are adversely affected by stress but neither group has much in the way of ‘emotional tool boxes/kits’ from which to use appropriate tools.
Emotional intelligence, coupled with some of the suggestions above (especially meditation), is ‘key’ to addressing stress related issues so that they don’t become negative health and well-being issues.
Remember, you are all ‘very important’ and need to look after yourselves as well as those around you.
Have a Very, Very Merry Christmas and remember, make it as stress free, as stress easy as possible and then, in the New Year, you should really consider to undertake more EQ awareness training and education.
EQ and Business Development Consultant