Emotional intelligence skills for handling stress

Emotional intelligence (EI) skills are helpful in managing emotions when stressed, a psychology counsellor from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) told an audience of over 100 teachers/non-academic staff of St Xavier’s Institution.

The crowd listening to the talk on stress management.

The crowd listening to the talk on stress management.

Speaking on stress management during a workshop held at the main campus today, Dr Yasmin Othman Mydin said that stressful situations can evoke negative emotions like anxiety, depression, fear and anger. “When you have too many things happening in your life, negative emotions pop up to affect your thoughts and behaviour.”

She emphasised that EI skills are needed to manage, cope and solve the emotional issues within one self and with others. She cited the four EI skills sets as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills.

“Firstly, recognise, understand, and identify your emotions when stressed. If you are aware, then you can better manage your emotions, rather than react with anger.” She explained that anger, sadness and fear are natural emotions; however it all depends on how you manage them so that they do not become intense or control you, and you are more stable while you wait to find a solution.  

Dr Yasmin lists out the four components of emotional intelligence.

Dr Yasmin lists out the four components of emotional intelligence.

She remarked that self-awareness will help prevent your emotions from over-ruling or disturbing you and you will better understand how you tend to react to a particular situation. “Then, in future, you are more alert and will respond more appropriately.”

As for social awareness, Dr Yasmin stated that it is the ability to understand the emotions of others, to show empathy, concern and care. “When you understand another’s emotions, it will help you deal with that person more rationally.” Social skills, she continued, relate to communication, building a bond, and teamwork.

Breathing relaxation technique…Dr Yasmin requests the audience requested to close eyes and focus on their breathing.

Breathing relaxation technique…Dr Yasmin requests the audience requested to close eyes and focus on their breathing.

She highlighted the benefits of developing EI skills. “You gain personal resilience to face situations in life. As you build inner strength and keep emotions in check, you become a better leader and relate better with others. People with less resilience are more easily shaken, angry and sad.

Dr Yasmin, who is also a senior lecturer and cognitive behaviour therapist at USM, said that when one experiences stress, the elements involved are emotions, behaviour and physiology (e.g. gastritis).

A teacher speaks about the work stress in the schools.

A teacher speaks about the work stress in the schools.

“Stress is in the eye of the beholder. It largely depends on how one thinks of the event. There is a connection between thoughts, emotion and behaviour. Emotional disturbances are largely due to the process of your thinking. So you listen to your thoughts.

“An event becomes stressful when we think negatively, we feel negatively, and act negatively,” she pointed out, using the analogy of relationship break-ups, which can lead one to think they are useless and so isolate themselves and not want to talk.

Dr Yasmin (centre), flanked on her left by Jasmine Emmanuel of WOU, poses with the participants.

Dr Yasmin (centre), flanked on her left by Jasmine Emmanuel of WOU, poses with the participants.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Penang Regional Centre and the School of Humanities & Social Sciences (SHSS). Among those present was SHSS Deputy Dean Jasmine Emmanuel.