The effects of stress on the mind and body can be detrimental to our health. Many people are working at such a fast pace or living life on autopilot that they don't always notice the effects of stress or explore various interventions to combat it, before it turns into a health issue or chronic dis-ease.
Developing emotional intelligence is a vital step towards maintaining and sustaining your general health and wellbeing. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, manage, and navigate our own emotions and empathize with the emotions of others. Did you know that you see the world through how you FEEL!
Mindfulness is a powerful tool that has gained significant recognition for enhancing emotional intelligence. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and aware of our thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations without judgment.
In this week’s blog, we’ll explore the simple science behind mindfulness and its profound impact on emotional intelligence and offer some suggestions and practices on how to develop and integrate it into your daily routine.
But first let’s look at the science behind Mindfulness and Emotional Intelligence!
A simple google search will produce many scientific studies that have demonstrated the positive effects of mindfulness on emotional intelligence for children and adults and as a protective factor for healthcare professionals such as this one here.
Neuroscientific research indicates that regular mindfulness practice can lead to structural and functional changes in the brain, particularly in areas associated with emotion regulation, empathy, and self-awareness. Mindfulness has been found to increase activity in the prefrontal cortex, the region responsible for executive functions and emotional regulation, while reducing activity in the amygdala, the brain's fear and stress center.
Here are some suggestions to start integrating and developing emotional intelligence in everyday life;
As best you can, pay attention to your own emotions, thoughts and reactions in different situations without judging them to increase your self-awareness and non-judgmental observation. This creates vital space to regain perspective if needed.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes and try to understand their perspective and emotions to develop empathy.
Give your full attention when someone is speaking, without interrupting or forming judgments to improve your capacity for active listening.
Practice managing your emotions in a healthy and constructive manner, rather than reacting impulsively to enhance your ability to regulate emotions. Remember to create a SPACE (count and feel your in and out breath) to allow for a balanced response.
Try to seek mutually beneficial solutions during conflicts, considering the emotions and needs of all parties involved to aim for conflict resolution and a win-win solutions if possible.
Pay attention to non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, to better understand others' emotions using non-verbal communication.
Be mindful whenever possible of the emotional dynamics within a group or social setting and adjust your behaviour accordingly to improve social awareness.
Develop the ability to bounce back from setbacks or failures, learning from them and maintaining a positive outlook to build resilience.
Take the time to consider both logical and emotional aspects when making choices for mindful decision making:
Offer empathy, validation and understanding to others when they are experiencing difficult emotions to offer emotional support when needed.
Set aside time to reflect on your emotions, actions, and their impact on yourself and others. Ask yourself what you can learn from certain situations and how you can improve as opposed to judging yourself to enhance self-reflection.
Pay attention to your gut feelings and instincts, as they can provide valuable insights into emotional cues and interpersonal dynamics for developing intuition.
Work on developing patience in challenging situations, allowing yourself and others the space and time needed to process emotions.
There are so many emotions and feelings to process everyday, they're not good or bad, we just need to learn that's it's okay to feel and we can learn to process, manage and recover from them with balanced awareness, so be kind to yourself and others!
Try out these short Mindfulness Practices to help you increase your emotional intelligence skills;
Digital Detox: We know this can be challenging but it is absolutely vital for your sense of wellbeing. Set aside dedicated time each day to disconnect from electronic devices and be present in the moment. Notice any urges and impulses or thoughts about reconnecting without judgment or reacting (it’s just a habit) and redirect your energy and attention to this moment using one of the practices below.
Mindful Breathing: Focus on your breath, observing the sensation of each inhalation and exhalation for one minutes and build up gradually to two minutes and so on.
Body Scan: Slowly scan your body from head to toe, paying attention to any sensations or tensions you may notice without judgement.
Mindful Walking: Take a walk and concentrate on the physical sensations of each step you take. Once you have established a feeling of embodiment allowing the mind to settle in the body, look up and around you to engage your sensory perceptions as if seeing everything for the first time. Notice any difference in your state of mind and how this makes you feel.
Loving-Kindness Meditation: Cultivate feelings of love and compassion by silently repeating phrases for an other and for yourself such as "May you be happy, may I be happy, may you be healthy, may I be healthy, may you live your life with ease, may I live my life with ease" etc.
Mindful Eating: Eat slowly, savouring each bite and pay close attention to the taste, texture and smell of your food. Slow down and take your time to chew and experience the food fully.
Five Senses Check-In: Pause and take note of five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
Gratitude Practice: Reflect on three things you are grateful for each day to cultivate a sense of appreciation.
Mindful Journaling: Write down your thoughts and emotions without judgment. Simply observe them with curiosity and compassion. Just because you can think, doesn’t mean it’s true.
Mindful Listening: Engage fully in conversations and listen attentively to others without interrupting or judging as best you can. As humans we judge a lot but we don’t have to believe in it!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Remember that developing emotional intelligence is a continuous process that requires continual practice and self-reflection. By intending to incorporate these suggestions and practices into daily life and give them a go, you are investing your time and energy into improving your communication skills and decision making, building stronger relationships, increasing empathy, managing conflict, reducing stress, improving your leadership abilities and flexibility ultimately leading to greater wellbeing and a more fulfilling and harmonious life.
If you would like to learn more and embark on mindfulness training, take a look at our upcoming courses;
Mindfulness Based Living Course - for adults - subsidised/discounted
Mindfulness & Wellbeing Course - for carers - fully funded
Young people's course age 12-25 years - coming soon, register your interest by emailing us to firstname.lastname@example.org
Monthly drop in - adult classes
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