We all take steps to keep our body fit and healthy. We look after our diet; we go to the gym or take up a sport to keep in shape (or at least this is one of our recurrent New Year’s resolutions); we go to the GP whenever we don’t feel well.
As we grow up we learn problem solving skills. In school we study various subjects, we learn to resolve practical problems.
What do we do for our emotional wellbeing?
For the most part, our quality of life is determined by our ability to deal with our emotions and yet we sometimes struggle to manage them.
We don’t always know how to express them appropriately and have little awareness about what triggers them.
Our ability to deal with emotions can also affect our relationships.
Emotions are at the core of most of the decisions we make every day and influence our behaviour.
If we feel annoyed we are more likely to snap at the people around us, or whenever we feel low, we may avoid other people’s company as we may feel we do not have the energy for that.
It can be hard to deal with the many demands of life and it is easier to keep our focus on the world outside as opposed to what happens on the inside.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand how we feel and why, and it can greatly improve our enjoyment of life.
It also makes it easier to identify other people’s emotions and respond appropriately.
When we pay attention to how we are feeling, we learn to trust our emotions, and we become far more able to manage them.
A healthy emotional life allows us to live more fully, to build stronger and more satisfying relationships and to look at the world around us in a more balanced and realistic way.
There are many steps we can take to increase our emotional intelligence.
Here are some for you to try:
• Stay with your emotions. If you experience uncomfortable feelings try not to distract yourself, but rather try to identify them.
• Try to find connections between how you are feeling now and other times that you felt similarly in the past.
• Listen to your body. A knot in the stomach may mean you are in a situation which you find stressful.
• Finally, pay attention to your behaviour. Notice how you act when you experience a certain emotion and how this affects your life.
Anna Dallavalle is a counsellor working with individuals and couples and has a private practice in Morpeth.
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