Emotional Intelligence! Can it help reduce stress?

If you are currently feeling stressed you may decide not to read this post but if you do then you might learn some useful tips on how to reframe your thinking and to reduce stress by getting in touch with your emotions.


These days, we are constantly bombarded with information. It’s everywhere and thanks to the smartphone it is very difficult to remove yourself from its claws. In fact, we are known to process 30,000 – 65,000 thoughts every day (Hanson, 2006).  We are continually responding to a diverse range of inputs and the resultant feelings. Our brain’s job is to sort out all these thoughts and emotions and to decide which ones demand our instant attention and which ones can be put on the ‘back-burner’.  Our ability to continually carry out this task is linked to our emotional self-awareness or emotional intelligence (EI). Getting in touch with our feelings helps us to behave in a more effective way and therefore can help us to reduce stress in our life.

Emotional intelligence is about being in touch with your own emotions and the emotions of others. There are three key skills you need to be effective:

  1. An awareness of your feelings and other people’s feelings (empathy). By identifying the type of feeling you are experiencing and what triggers the resultant emotion, you can decide how you want to act. Watch body language and facial expressions for clues on how someone is feeling.
  2. Understanding your emotions and using your feelings to facilitate thinking and problem solving. This thought process involves ‘being in the present’ and to do this we must be alert and responsive because our emotional state is constantly shifting. By being in touch with your feelings you are more in control of what happens next and if you are really truly engaged you will instinctively be able to make a more considered decision.
  3. Managing your emotions so that you can regulate them and have the confidence to rearrange your emotional state. We need to explore the emotional underpinnings of our behaviour so that we can grow our emotional intelligence. To do this we need feedback. Supportive family and trusted colleagues are helpful in providing honest feedback thus enabling our emotional intelligence to mature.


Key emotional intelligence skills

So, how‘s your emotional state now? Perhaps it’s time to pause and consider your emotional signals.  Hansen (2006) suggests that if we look at some of our recent decision-making and list all the feelings around those decisions, including ranking the power of each of these feelings then we will become more confident in how we respond to an emotion, especially when we are stressed.


Hansen, S. 2006. Engage your emotions: Being self-assured, empathic and credible. David Bateman Ltd, Auckland, New Zealand.  101p. The resilience institute http://resiliencei.com/our-teams/dr-sven-hansen/







About Robyn Kannemeyer

Robyn Kannemeyer was the Researcher Development Coordinator at AUT from October 2016 to the beginning of March 2017. She has an MSc in biosecurity and conservation and is taking up a role at Landcare Research as an Environmental Social Scientist. She is passionate about conserving New Zealand’s unique biodiversity and recently returned from travelling through South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Tanzania where she climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.

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