By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
I am sure many of you, if you are like me, have great aspirations to stick with your New Year’s resolutions! I would encourage you to keep your New Year’s resolutions in the forefront of your mind so that you can achieve your goals. However, I believe there is another key factor you should consider to keep you on track. This factor is your emotional intelligence.
High levels of emotional intelligence is related to health and happiness
Your emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize your own emotions and possibly other people’s emotions as well. Researchers believe that having a high level of emotional intelligence is strongly related to health and happiness. On the contrary, people who demonstrate a low level of emotional intelligence have difficulty with some coping skills; they tend to use avoidance as a coping strategy and they worry more. Using avoidance as a coping strategy means you simply avoid conflicts or relational challenges to perhaps “keep the peace,” when in reality this strategy often leads to problems becoming greater burdens on you and others.
If this sounds like you, do not be disheartened because awareness is the first step to improving your emotional intelligence, which will allow you to make significant changes in your life, relationships and the way you go about your business. Improving your emotional intelligence can help you eliminate barriers that may prevent you from achieving your goals, in this case your New Year’s goals; because you can focus on improving your own emotions and learn how to cope with challenges effectively.
Practicing the following steps may help you improve your emotional intelligence and take control of your health and New Year’s resolutions.
Be assertive with challenging emotional situations. Think of this as ” sticking to your guns” and not caving in to what other people think because it may be, at the time, the easier route. Assert yourself and be strong in your decision and actions because you believe it’s the best decision.
Saying NO when you usually say yes to everything. Saying no to additional tasks/responsibilities or to family members can help you improve your emotional intelligence. By saying no to unwanted responsibilities, you eliminate additional stress in you life. As a result, you may have more time to achieve what’s important, for example, your health and well-being.
Express yourself. The ability to express how you feel in a calm and sincere manner can improve your relationships and improve your perception of that relationship because you are dealing with problems/ situations as they arise. Failure to express yourself and emotions can leave you feeling resentful and bitter since you’ve kept your emotions to yourself. If you express yourself, you can sleep better at night knowing you have done your part.
Last but not least, pay attention and be aware of how you are feeling. Awareness is a pivotal step to improving your emotional intelligence. Being aware of your emotions can lead to being assertive, saying no, and expressing yourself. Practicing these steps in a sincere and concise fashion may significantly improve your overall health.
Matthews G, Emo AK, Funke G, Zeidner M, Roberts RD, Costa PT Jr, Schulze R. Emotional intelligence, personality, and task-induced stress. Journal of Experimental Psychology Applied. 2006; 12(2):96-107.
Pool LD, Qualter P. Improving emotional intelligence and emotional self-efficacy through a teaching intervention for university students. Learning and Individual Differences. 2012; 22:306-312.