COVID 19: Anatomy of a Healthy Pandemic Approach

Abstract

We live day by day directly guided by our emotions. During COVID 19, we are experiencing a hard time managing emotions. Social distancing becoming our salvation at the same time our number one enemy. As human beings, we are the cumulus of social interaction. We receive validation, we give validation, we become part of groups, we express our knowledge and talents becoming an integrated part of a social environment which represents a great part of who we are. We thrive, we define our character and surround ourselves with people alike, engaging in activities that define who we are on all different levels. (Stone, 2016)

How are we supposed to be the same, feel the same, act the same when the world as we know it, changed? It may not be forever, social distancing relaxation started to flourish among nations at the end of the day. What is there to know about EQ? Does EQ have any negative sides to it? What is the impact social distancing has over our continuously developing Emotional Intelligence? How can we nurture EQ (emotional intelligence) during the pandemic?  Let’s uncover this together.

Description & Content

I have recently written an article on Emotional Intelligence for LinkedIn, therefore this comes as an extension to that offering greater insight on the matter.

Constantly being among others, we need to read signals, reactions, react appropriately, and accordingly to social dogma whenever we are faced with a situation. Having this ability you also have the definition of emotional intelligence. (Stone, 2016) Whether we are in a professional environment and you have to express certain respect for your superiors or inferiors, treating your spouse in a familial argument, or treating somebody misbehaving on the street, we must acquire all skills needed to develop emotional intelligence. Enlightening the previous statement, the skills needed are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. (Carter and Carter, 2011)

Being self-aware means having the ability to recognize your own emotions. Know the course of those emotions wherever they might lead you and study the root. Understanding what you feel and why, will offer an insight on your conscious, later on, subconscious. This will lead to the power of recognizing self-emotions and other’s emotions and their effects as well as offering assurance of self-worth and confidence. (Ceballos, 2013) As for self-regulating, the human impulse and the control over emotions might seem impossible at times. Your first response would be to react uncontrollably, not thinking thoroughly before action which may lead to an unhappy situation. Something that we could work on would be self-control, trustworthiness, consciousness, adaptability, and innovation according to Ceballos. To always be open to new ideas, accept other’s visions, and take responsibility for your actions, good or bad, would be a few advised actions encouraging the prior enumeration. (Ceballos, 2013)

According to Michael Akers & Grover Porter, clear and well-defined goals are the key to motivation. Being determined in actions, having a commitment, optimism, and drive will lead you to take action and be in charge of your life and success. The power to pursue goals consistently despite impediments, the ability to take opportunities when they appear, and of course to align yourself with other’s goals would be the way to keeping motivation.

Psychologically and psychiatrically speaking, motivation and action is the weapon of the wise and trained individuals. We are born in the innate state where we accept and nurture our human nature the way it is without critical and self-assessment. Later on, in our twenties, we develop critical thinking and train our minds to accept reality and question it, we become aware of what society is, create and define ourselves as an integrated part of a society with rights and responsibilities. Therefore, we can manage motivation, will, and action better than we would do it in our teenage years. We now have a heightened sense of reality and owe it to ourselves to outgrow our innate state. (MCKNIGHT, 2019)

Empathy and social skills have a say as well in emotional intelligence. By treating education accordingly, diverse reading sessions, communication, and social action would lead to diverse opportunities cultivation, people’s needs anticipation and interpretation. We will also develop a sense of people’s needs to succeed and an understanding of emotional currents and political power relationships. This would be the definition of a person mastering empathy.(Porter, 2020) Given this information, social skills could also be transferable skills one needs to successfully manage professional endeavors. According to Porter, through empathy, we can develop influence, leadership, change, build bonds, drive a team, manage situations, and master communication.

Endorsing the importance of EQ, a study at Harvard University showed that the percentage of successful students were more based on EQ other than IQ and according to Relly Nadler Psy.D., M.C.C., confidence in ourselves gives us the drive to succeed which in most cases leads to success by the power of drive, leaving IQ lower or equally important.

 Based on Justin Bariso an emotionally intelligent mind asks itself some questions and powers some thoughts and actions. Thinking about feelings, taking a step back, regrouping and preparing next moves, striving to control thoughts, accepting and benefiting from criticism, showing authenticity, demonstrating empathy, giving feedback are only some of the greatest signs of a mature intelligent mind and cognitive process. Some other signs would be having the power to forgive, forget, help others, keep commitments, apologizing. “It takes strength and courage to be able to say you’re sorry. But doing so demonstrates humility, a quality that will naturally draw others to you” says Justin Bariso. If you power these thoughts, it means you are on the right track on your way to success as well as mental health.

 Based on the internationally recognized relationship expert and executive coach Jeffrey Bernstein, EQ is a key indicator showing children’s and people’s ability to develop a sane and healthy educational, social and personal relationship along life giving them a balanced outlook on life wealth both financial and personal. These are the people you want in your life. They have the power to read and understand you at the same time either disagreeing or approving with some of your actions. These are the people that support you in following your dreams. Look for cultivated people that might answer some of your questions, that might give you good advice and constantly motivate you by their actions.

Does EQ have any negative sides?

Now that we know emotional intelligence is directly proportionate with life’s success, you might be wondering!? Isn’t this a weapon? Isn’t the ability to be able to control and power your emotions, actions, and thoughts, an issue in the wrong willingly? 

According to Dr. Denise Cummins, emotional intelligence is “morally neutral.” It can be used to help and develop oneself and others or it can be used to promote oneself at the cost of others. I am sure that you might have noticed people assuming credit for other people’s successful actions. Plagiarism, intellectual stolen property as well as social and economic manipulation not to mention political affairs. These actions happen all the time. It represents a problem when we see a deep manifestation in clinical diagnoses of Machiavellianism, the art of social manipulation to achieve personal end goals. (MCKNIGHT, 2019) We see it every day at work, in school, etc. It is either a friend copying your exam sheet or a boss taking credit for your work or to the extreme, psychiatric patients manipulating their physicians to discharge them early. (MCKNIGHT, 2019)

Martin Kildare, Chair of Organizational Behavior at UCL in London stated that people with a high EQ “intentionally shape their emotions to fabricate favorable impressions of themselves…The strategic disguise of one’s own emotions and the manipulation of others’ emotions for strategic ends are behaviors evident not only on Shakespeare’s stage but also in the offices and corridors where power and influence are traded.” 

We will find ourselves in plenty of such situations, constantly be ready to observe and look for red-flags indicating you should stay away from such people.

What is the impact social distancing has over our continuously developing Emotional Intelligence?

 Social distancing affecting who we are, what we do, and who we want to be with, sets the trend for anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. I guess you have all noticed that you keep calm and do all sorts of activities inside, but then, at some point, you have the wish to do more and all but nothing at the same time. You might have also noticed real-life transposed online with people showing everybody what they eat, how they do it, what underwear they wear, how sexually aroused they are, what music they listen to, etc. That is a coping mechanism obliviously exposed which of course it is very degrading. Reading, sleeping, exercising, studying, you would do them all, but none, altogether. It is normal to feel distressed, fear, anxiety therefore we manifest changes in our nutritional system, sleep program, waking up mid-day or past mid-day, etc. Scientists might say that these feelings begin to install when we are not productive. And that is true. I do not believe that watching Netflix all day is called productive. But how can we feel that accomplishment when we are kept inside, disrupted from what we knew “normal” is?

Going back to what I have detailed about EQ’s traits, we can notice that not all skills improving emotional intelligence can or must be acquired outside in public. It comes to our own ability to improve self-awareness, self-management, and self-regulation. But according to Jean Ann Larson, Ed.D, School of Medicine Leadership Development Officer at UAB “the most difficult thing you manage in every situation is yourself.” Yet this is not impossible. Remember all the times you wished for some time off to spend reading and catching up on personal projects.

How can we nurture EQ (emotional intelligence) during the pandemic?

Take advantage of technology, you have all information at a click of a button. From history to medicine, we have an entire cyber library to choose from. Healthline.com says that reading strengthens the brain, cognitive processes, builds vocabulary, increases empathy, reduces stress, alleviates depression and anxiety, increases knowledge. From this very act of reading a book, you increase emotional intelligence considerably not to mention assuring mental health and filling your time productively. (Porter, 2020) Set a schedule for your activity. Routine always comes to create comfort for your mind increasing chances of success.

Matt Windsor, from the department of health and medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recommends stated that research indicates that emotional intelligence accounts for up to 90% of the difference between star performers and average performers. In a wide range of fields, Jean Ann Larson also said: “ emotional intelligence is all about self-awareness and self-regulation.”

Emotion-spotting

Self-awareness is the ability to recognize and understand your moods, emotions, and drives, as well as their effect on others. Here are some questions and activities to try — Jean Ann Larson recommends picking one or two that you feel you can incorporate in your daily routine:

·        Ask yourself: What is my current emotional state? Am I experiencing discreet feelings and emotions? Can I name them?

·        As you identify emotions, describe them aloud or write them down.

·        Feel your emotions physically.

·        Pay attention to your emotions and behaviors and see if you recognize patterns throughout the day.

·        Reflect on the connection between your emotions and your behavior.

·        Know who and what pushes your buttons.

·        To improve your ability to self-assess, ask a family member or trusted advisor to describe your strengths and weaknesses. Compare their perspective with your self-assessment.

Emotion-taming

Self-regulation is the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods and your capacity to think before acting. Once again, choose one or two of the exercises below to incorporate in your daily routine:

·        Practice self-restraint by listening first, pausing, and then responding.

·        When you are becoming frustrated, stop and identify what brought on that emotion.

·        Create effective responses to stressful situations by finding strategies for altering a negative mood.

·        Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” to consider the reality of the situation.

·        Journal occurrences during which you were able to regulate your responses or emotions. How did the ability to self-regulate affect the outcomes and your relationship with others?

·        Begin regular exercise, yoga, or meditation to increase your ability to manage your emotions and relax both body and mind. Exercise regulates your emotions by releasing endorphins, adrenaline, serotonin, and dopamine.

·        Get adequate sleep and rest. Without it, even with the best intentions, it is too easy to react in a way that you’ll regret.

Concluding the above statements, we can understand that the pandemic gave us lots of burdens but it also gave us the opportunity of our lives. Having so much time to catch up on knowledge, be more prepared, value mindfulness, and outgrow our innate state. We now have the infinite possibility to develop self-knowledge. We can learn more about ourselves and how we treat ourselves and others during trying times. Discipline is always hard and requires much energy from us, but if we find the purpose and motive, define it as well as we can, we will see the benefits.

Therefore, during this pandemic, we have the time to work on ourselves on multiple levels. Nurturing emotional intelligence will contour us as leaders, as individuals, enhance our ability to understand ourselves and others as well as the entire world. Not to mention the benefit of our mental health. So never settle, always inform and work on yourself. 

References:

Carter, P., and Carter, P., 2011. Test Your Emotional Intelligence. London: Kogan Page.

Ceballos, G., 2013. The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence And Job Satisfaction Among Nurses At A Community Hospital Setting. Ann Arbor, MI.: UMI Dissertation Services.

Porter, M., 2020. What Is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?. [online] Psych Central. Available at: <https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-emotional-intelligence-eq/> [Accessed 29 April 2020].

Stone, V., 2016. Psychoanalysis. [Place of publication not identified]: Silverwhite Press.

MCKNIGHT, R., 2019. PSYCHIATRY. [S.l.]: OXFORD UNIV PRESS.

UAB News. 2020. Making Your Emotions Work For You — And Against COVID–19 – News. [online] Available at: <https://www.uab.edu/news/health/item/11204-making-your-emotions-work-for-you-and-against-covid-19> [Accessed 30 April 2020].

Rogers, L. and Health, J., 2020. How To Lead With Emotional Intelligence In The Time Of COVID-19. [online] Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Available at: <https://www.jhsph.edu/covid-19/articles/how-to-lead-with-emotional-intelligence-in-the-time-of-covid-19.html> [Accessed 30 April 2020].

Euro.who.int. 2020. Statement – Physical And Mental Health Key To Resilience During COVID-19 Pandemic. [online] Available at: <http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/statements/statement-physical-and-mental-health-key-to-resilience-during-covid-19-pandemic> [Accessed 30 April 2020].

Healthline. 2020. Benefits Of Reading Books: For Your Physical And Mental Health. [online] Available at: <https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-of-reading-books> [Accessed 30 April 2020].

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