– Marcia Hughes and James Terrell
Note: This is the fifth in a series of articles that explores the connections between the EQi 2.0 and wellbeing. Each article focuses on one of the 5 EQi composite areas or the Wellbeing Indicator, which includes the vital skill of happiness.
Stress Management skills include three core skills according to the EQi 2.0: Flexibility, Stress Tolerance, and Optimism. These three powerful skills are a part of the 16 skills resulting from rigorous research begun in the 1980’s by Dr. Reuven Bar-On when he asked the question: “What differentiates people who are successful in responding to environmental demands from those who are not successful?”. Emotional Intelligence is a set of emotional and social skills that collectively establish how we respond to the many environmental demands placed on us. “Environmental” is a broad concept drawing on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual components of our lives. How well we respond to those pressures deeply impacts our wellbeing.
The three stress management skills impact the way flow in our lives. These skills impact how stressed we become with family, work and political events, how well we adapt to change and our ability to move towards new possibilities. This is the heart of embracing what can and does work to support our wellbeing. Remember the EQi 2.0 module presents the 5 composites and 16 skills in a circle, thus how we make respond to new possibilities and manage our motivation for positive outcomes is influenced by all our EI (emotional intelligence) skills including optimism and self-regard. Social intelligence is a fundamental part of the EI Spectrum. Our social engagements are influenced by how we make decisions. How much time we spend connecting to others, if we provide servant leadership, and how we manage our health are all rooted in stress management and impact our success in connecting with others. It impacts how we respond to challenges and find opportunities to be all we can be and to nurture our souls with what truly matters.
Flexibility as measured by the EQi is focused on the ability to change. It includes the ability to make changes in your daily life, your need for predictability, and how comfortable you are with change. For leaders it measures the important skills of being able to compromise and to change your opinion. Wellbeing requires that we focus on what truly matters. It requires us to be aware of our values so that when we’re asked to flex, or the change, we can rapidly check with our core values and be aware of the range that we have to work with in making changes while still adhering to our values.
Stress Tolerance is the closest of all 16 EQi skills to our physical health, which is core to well-being. The physiological impacts of stress can last a very long time. Thus, honestly managing our response to stress plays a central part in our wellbeing. This includes our responses to financial, relationship and work scenarios. Do you keep calm in difficult situations? Can you think clearly when under stress? Much of your answer has to do with the story you’re telling yourself. How serious is the matter? How could you frame the situation so that you have the greatest capacity to respond well?
Optimism is linked closely to motivation. Hope provides energy. A sense that the future holds promising results in areas we value helps us step up to being all we can be. Optimism helps us stay positive even when things get difficult. With optimism, we have a positive outlook and that creates more possibilities in our lives and is contagious. Optimistic leaders are more effective at inspiring their teams to meet their goals and to work collaboratively towards common benefits.
Emotional Intelligence skill development is a primary platform for developing our wellbeing.
Wellbeing connects with emotional intelligence in indispensable ways. Our wellbeing is impacted daily by our hope for the future and our ability to keep the many changes that come our way in perspective. Wellbeing, as all of life, is central to breathing and moderating our breath is a brilliant way to manage stress.
Stress Tolerance Skill Development
Stress tolerance is deeply influenced by our judgement about what’s happening. This then results in how we perceive or frame the event. Actions follow perception. If we think it’s something good for us, we are more creative and willing to listen to others and consider options. If we think it’s something bad for us we start shutting down. Our vision narrows, and our breathing restricts – fight, flight or freeze sets in. However, this isn’t a permanent sentence. At any time, we can catch ourselves and change by:
- Taking a few minutes to calm ourselves and breathe deeply. Let everything go for those few minutes. Relax.
- Engage in stair therapy. James has taught this around the world – go climb some stairs as fast as works for you. Just climb for a few minutes. You’ll get more oxygen to your brain, move your muscles, refocus your thoughts. Then you can take a fresh look.
- Stop, push the pause button, drink water. Call a five-minute break! Give yourself time to re-center.
Martin Seligman, the father of positive psychology, has spend decades researching to find out why some people move through life with much more facility than others. His answer: they’re optimists! Check out his works and other in our EQi Resources list!
This series of articles connects the 5 composites and the wellbeing indicator of the EQi 2.0 with wellbeing. Your comments are always welcome! Check out our books, Emotional Intelligence in Action, 2d Ed, which provides 4 or more exercises for growing each of the 16 EQi 2.0 skills and The Emotionally Intelligent Team, which covers the 7 EI competencies teams need to be successful.