Friday, September 20, 2013

Boost Your EQ

Boost your EQ
Emotional fitness takes more than 10 minutes of venting in your diary; it requires a holistic plan.
Having good emotional health means developing emotional intelligence, which is the knowledge of our emotions, how they work and how best to manage them. It is helpful to understand how your brain’s emotional centre, the limbic system, works. The limbic system triggers emotions to guide us and ensure our survival. For example, positive emotions encourage us to keep going with an action that is healthy for us, such as an intimate relationship, while negative ones warn us to alter our course as we encounter emotional pain. Learning to heed, interpret and act upon signals from your limbic system is the key to your emotional fitness plan. Emotional fitness, just like its physical counterpart, requires planning, training, motivation, and practice. Here’s how.
1. Exercise your emotions
Just as muscles waste away with disuse, emotional skills deteriorate if you don’t use them regularly. Get into the habit of jotting down your emotional experiences every day. What made you happy? Sad? Or bored, angry, or frustrated? Observing and respecting emotions, rather than ignoring them, helps you to process information and decide what you might need to do about situations and people. Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us better. Look for the lesson.
2. Care about someone
Positive relationships are critical to emotional fitness. When you care about someone and are cared for in return, feel-good chemicals are released in the brain. For example, falling in love and having sex both release the hormone oxytocin, which creates feelings of nurturing, calm, and safety; birth and breastfeeding release the same hormone. “Even just stroking a pet releases oxytocin,” says psychiatrist Sherri Spirt.
3. Sink the saboteurs
A saboteur – someone who puts you down in order to boost their own ego - causes anxiety, depression, and low self-worth; such people make you question your judgement and can damage all aspects of your life, from academic performance to eating behaviour. Identify the saboteur and cut ties; if that’s not possible, then practise meeting their barbs with a firm, “I have a different view,” or simply remove yourself physically from the situation.
4. Know when to ask for help
Repeat after me these timeless words from poet John Donne: “No man is an island.” No one should try to manage life without some help, although everyone’s needs are met differently. Yours could arrive in the form of a friend, a colleague or a professional therapist.
5. Be still
Just as with physical training, the quickest way to derail an emotional fitness plan is to get too busy. Make a commitment to yourself that you will, without fail, take a minimum of five minutes every day to sit quietly, feet planted squarely on the floor, close your eyes, and practise deep breathing. This quietens stress hormone production and allows you to engage the rational side of your brain, which in turn motivates you to keep going with your emotional fitness plan.

Source : Nature and Health


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