Are You Emotionally Fit? How To Look After Your Emotional Wellbeing
Since gyms are currently closed during lockdown, people have adjusted their workout routines and implemented ways to stay active while being safe at home. While following online training and bodyweight workout plans are great for your physical fitness, there is a different kind of fitness that you may be neglecting – emotional fitness. In order to build your emotional fitness you will need to build your EQ (Emotional Intelligence).
What is EQ?
“It’s like a set of psychological muscles,” says Mark Baker, a psychologist and CEO of emotional intelligence platform Mygrow. “Just like in fitness, these muscles need to be exercised over and over again in order to develop.”
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EQ is the capability of individuals to recognise their own emotions and those of others. Improving this can boost your teamwork and communication skills in every aspect of your life. Companies often send their management staff to leadership seminars to improve their EQ so that they can lead their teams more effectively. After hosting a few of these seminars, Baker noticed that many of the people that attended would feel super motivated after the session, but wouldn’t apply the skills that they learned.
“I started realising that in these leadership development programmes, people would learn about emotional intelligence (EQ) but not actually develop it,” he recalls. “If you want to become a really good rugby player, you need a great level of fitness. And if you want to become a good leader, you need great emotional intelligence.”
But achieving this doesn’t happen overnight, so Baker decided to collaborate with many other psychology experts, and filmmakers to create an online platform that would not only help people learn about EQ but also facilitate what one needs to develop it.
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“Mygrow is pretty much an online gym for emotional intelligence,” he says. “The ‘gym sessions’ are designed according to what neuroscience teaches us about EQ, which tells us that you need to train over a long period of time. What’s easy about Mygrow is that a daily session only takes 10 minutes.”
The daily session, called droplets, consists of a video which teaches you a bit about how the mind and body interact, a short quiz, and a technique that will help improve your EQ. Over the course, you’ll do different modules which cover topics such as self-perception, stress management and decision making to name a few.
Try It Out While You’re At Home
Since we’re in lockdown, we’ve had to spend a lot of time by ourselves and one of the only ways to stay connected to our family, friends and work colleagues is via the internet. It’s also a great time to get to know yourself better. Here are a few simple ways to improve your emotional intelligence:
Learn to manage negative emotions
It’s easy to become overwhelmed by negative feelings and let our emotions affect our judgement. If we view a situation in multiple ways before making a decision on how to feel about it, our perspective could become more positive. One way to do this is to avoid negative personalisation. Try not to jump to negative conclusions about someone’s behaviour. Psychology Today gives the perfect example: “I may be tempted to think my friend didn’t return my call because she’s ignoring me, or I can consider the possibility that she’s been very busy. When we avoid personalising other people’s behaviours, we can perceive their expressions more objectively. People do what they do because of them more than because of us. Widening our perspective can reduce the possibility of misunderstanding.” Practicing mindfulness can also help with negative emotions, here are 4 mindfulness apps you can try.
Get to know your stressors
Nobody is a stranger to stress. It’s our body’s reaction to a challenge and can show up in various situations. Although stress can be positive in short bursts, like when we’re working towards a deadline, it’s important to take note of what stresses you out in a bad way. You should then be proactive to have less of it in your life. “If you know that checking your work email before bed will send you into a tailspin, leave it for the morning” – Forbes.com
Choose your words carefully
In order to become a stronger communicator, you will need to be more assertive with what you say and express difficult emotions when necessary. Word choice plays an important part in this. Avoid using sentences that begin with ‘you’ and followed by accusation or judgment, such as ‘you are’, ‘you should’, or ‘you need to’. You’ language followed by such directives put the listener on the defensive, and make them less likely to be open to what you have to say. For alternatives, check out this post on giving constructive feedback
Get A Coach
Just like in the gym, we often need a trainer to help guide us throughout our journey. The same thing applies to EQ. Mygrow, in collaboration with Men’s Health, is offering a free 30-day trial on the platform for anyone who wants to learn more about their own emotional intelligence. Along with the free trial (which would normally cost R349), you’ll also get a free R551 voucher towards an individual annual subscription, bringing the total amount saved to R900. Simple use the code “gethealthy” when signing up HERE or below.
They’ve also started a webinar series specifically tailored for lockdown called “Mental Health and Wellbeing in COVID-19” where listeners can learn about staying positive and productive during this pandemic. The list of guests so far include para-athlete Alwyn Uys, presenter Zuraida Jardine and comedian Schalk Bezuidenhout.