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Mental Health: 5 Ways to Practise EQ during a Pandemic

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In times of crisis, our first natural reaction is to panic. Instead of reacting impulsively to situations, we should learn to harness our emotions. This is where Emotional Intelligence (EQ), defined as the ability to understand and cope with emotions, comes in handy to guide and control behaviour.

“EQ is important as it helps us regulate our emotions that will take us through desolation and towards consolation. It is crucial to the process of healing and helping others do the same,” said Fiona Biggs, a church youth pastoral worker. Equipped with a certification in The Science of Well-being (Yale University), Biggs often counsels youth, working adults and parents, accompanying them as they discern life’s choices.  

Fiona Biggs
Fiona Biggs

Here’s how EQ can be a powerful tool during this pandemic:

1. Managing fear and anxiety

Recognise and address your own fears and anxieties about the current health crisis, and of those around you. Make a proactive effort to ask them what their main concerns are. Then, consider the worst-case scenario and plan a course of action. When things are viewed with logic, you will realise there is always a solution, and things aren’t as bad or insurmountable as you imagine.  

“Breathing exercises or taking walks will help calm you down so that you can think clearer. Reach out to a friend or mentor whom you can depend on to help you stay focused and grounded,” suggested Biggs. 

Breathing exercises will help calm you down.
Breathing exercises will help calm you down.

2. Making tough decisions

Identify the issue at hand and focus on what needs to be done. Create a list of pros and cons, go over them and ask yourself if the decision is made with a voice of reason. The key is to balance emotional action with rational reaction. No one likes being the bad guy, but sometimes, you need courage to make an unpopular decision.

This is where a community of friends is crucial to help build and lift you up. Look to someone for advice and who can offer an objective view. If the decision didn’t turn out right, there is always a lesson to be learnt.

Look to someone who can provide you advice
Look to someone who can provide you advice

3. Delivering bad news 

Take time to think about what you want to say, choose your words and explain the circumstances clearly to avoid misunderstanding. Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and be prepared for an emotional outburst. Concentrate on what can be done rather than what’s happened. 

 “It’s important to hold space for the individual who is going to be receiving the news or grappling with disappointment. Take time to be there and be present for the person on the receiving end as the news slowly sinks in,” said Biggs. 

4. Encouraging others

Nobody is happy all the time. The trick is to acknowledge the problem, but not give in to defeat. Focus on the other person’s positive attributes and work with those. Sometimes, we just need the right opportunity to be able to rise above the current situation, especially in the face of our economic challenges. Practise gratitude for motivation to get strength to trudge on. Redefine ‘success’, for example, instead of completing a work project, it can be connecting with an old friend or doing a random act of kindness.  

5. Showing empathy 

Covid times have affected all of us in different ways. Everyone manages stress differently so try to understand what they are going through from their perspective. “Listen with an open heart without judgement. There is no need to dispense advice, unless solicited, as it is your presence that’s more important,” said Biggs. Technology helps us stay connected despite social distancing so use social media as a means to show support and compassion.