It’s natural (and normal) for our emotions to fluctuate throughout the day. One minute you might feel exhilarated because you crushed your “steps” goal, while the next you might feel defeated because you didn’t get your to-do list complete or missed a deadline. But you can decide to step off the emotional rollercoaster that exhausts so many of us each day. By learning to increase your emotional intelligence, you’ll better recognize what’s causing the highs and the lows in your day and be able to stay more even keeled. Rather than being at the whim of others, emotional intelligence helps you to stay true to yourself.
1. Learn to regulate your emotions.
Research shows that when you regulate your emotions with healthy strategies, you feel better and can more quickly recover from stressful experiences. Talking to a trusted friend, for instance, can help you work through your feelings. Additionally, it’s amazing how taking care of some of your physical needs can positively affect your emotional needs, too. Get plenty of rest, eat healthily, and exercise regularly. Practicing positive self-talk can also aid in this process. Remind yourself, “I am calm.” “I am centered.” “I am relaxed.”
2. Reduce triggers.
Notice and identify actions that trigger your emotions. Does leaving late make you stressed? Does being hungry make you angry? We get it! You’re in control of reducing these triggers. Set your alarm earlier to give yourself an extra 5 minutes for your commute to work. Pack a handful of almonds or an apple in your bag the next time you head out, to ensure you don’t end up somewhere without a snack. Control your “controllables” to keep your emotions balanced.
3. Take a moment to breathe.
Words said out of frustration, a text sent in a hurry, or a phone call made in a moment when you’re flustered can quickly escalate rather than resolve an issue. Give yourself space to reflect and process the situation first, before reacting. Bonus benefit—your actions will act as a model for others. Don’t be surprised when friends, coworkers, and even your kids take five deep breaths before accidentally saying something they don’t mean.
4. Consider all sides.
When you’re in the heat of the moment or in a stressful situation, it can be hard to take a step back and consider all sides of the equation. Rather than getting upset and annoyed, take a moment to empathize with where everyone is coming from. In an office setting, has your coworker been taking on more tasks than you (or more time-consuming work) that you may have forgotten about? Do they have other stressors going on in their life? Are there other priorities in the work culture that may need more attention than this exact issue? Rather than feeling upset about a reaction, take time to assess where the reaction may be stemming from.
The good news is, the more you practice this process, the easier and more automatic it will become. By recognizing and identifying your emotions as they fluctuate, you can remove yourself from them and see them as a reaction that is separate from you. Your emotions may be sporadic at times, but you are in control. Rather than allowing your feelings to reign, you’ll be able to label them as a response that you have power over. By increasing your emotional intelligence, you’ll be prepared and empowered to be the person you’d like to be and to respond the way you’d like to react, resulting in increased confidence and contentment.