December 31, 2020

Demonstrating Emotional Intelligence under Stress

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This time of the year can be especially stressful … especially this year. The holidays are already a stressful and hectic time for many of us, but a new layer of tension is added by the pandemic…will we be able to see our family? Should we see our family? There might be pressure to stay home, or pressure to attend a family gathering. There are a lot of complications that can arise and this can lead to burnout.

When we’re heading towards burnout, and certainly when we’re in the midst of it, we have a tendency to be closed down to new ideas and less willing to assist others. We want to feel in control of what we can, so often we handle things by ourselves, in ways that feel safe. Sometimes this is necessary to get through difficult situations; to just go with what you know rather than experimenting and taking risks.

Recently I was challenged by some people close to me that I was often responding to new ideas with “but”. Some self-reflection showed me that this indicated my tank was low. Some focus on replenishing was necessary to prevent myself from lapsing into a pattern that restricted the flow of creative ideas between us.

I know that I reverted to what was most familiar to me in these times. Instead of trusting people around me to handle things, I wanted to do everything myself. That’s all right, as long as it’s not a long-term pattern. But this can be damaging in two ways: firstly, you’re denying the people around you a chance to grow and learn. Secondly, you are only adding to your own stress by taking everything on yourself. It’s important to still try to remain humble and curious, even if you’re burnt out.

So how do you grow through this?

How do you stop yourself and recognize what you are doing?
Where do you see yourself doing this?

This can be a great opportunity for reflection. Pay attention to where you feel stressed and why, pay attention to how you interact with others. Make sure to show appreciation of the people around you, even if you are under pressure. Acknowledgement goes a long way. Practise empathy, even when you’re outside of your comfort zone. Sometimes, asking for help can not only lighten your load but also make others feel respected and trusted. This Christmas … take care of yourself, but also take care of others!

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