One of the key components of emotional intelligence is the ability to control your own emotions – particularly the negative emotions such as stress and anger. If you are unable to prevent yourself from panicking or from flying off the handle in a temper, then you will find that you struggle to interact with others in a positive way. This can harm your relationships and your career and it’s very unpleasant to live with.
If you’re the kind of person who struggles to control their emotions though, then the good news is that there are plenty of things you can do to start handling them more effectively. Here we will look at some of the best strategies for controlling anger and anxiety so that you can better control your reactions and succeed in social interactions…
The first and most important thing to do when you feel yourself getting worked up is to try and breathe steadily and deeply. When you get anxious, this causes your autonomic nervous system to trigger the fight or flight response, in turn releasing neurochemicals that cause your body to get ‘worked up’ like norepinephrine, cortisol and glutamate.
By breathing steadily though, you can cause your parasympathetic nervous system to kick in which in turn has the opposite effect of putting you into a ‘rest and digest’ state, producing relaxing hormones that calm you back down.
Cognitive restructuring means looking at the thought patterns that are causing you to get angry and then replacing them with more relaxing and calming thoughts. If you find yourself getting angry at other drivers on the road, try reminding yourself that ‘staying calm means you win’.
If you find yourself struggling regularly with getting worked up and anxious, then it may pay to utilize biofeedback techniques. What this means, is that you will be monitoring your own biology to give you an indication of your mood. The easiest way to do this is with a heart rate monitor that will tell you roughly how stressed or angry you are at any given time.
By regularly measuring your heartrate you can then start to learn when you begin getting stressed, what causes it and what it feels like. At the same time you can practice bringing your heartrate back down with breathing techniques. Eventually you won’t need the heartrate monitor at all because you will have developed an awareness of your own body and mind – a very key aspect of EQ.