Gratitude: The Key to a Healthier Mind

“Saying Thank You” is something we have all learnt as a child. What many people often overlook is the profound impact it has on our emotional intelligence. How a few simple words can affect our daily outlook, our ability to pave our way to success and more than anything, to stay happy.

We are emotional creatures — we are hardwired that way. But we’re not hardwired to know what to do about all those feelings. That’s where Emotional Intelligence (EQ) comes in. It’s the ability to understand our own emotions and the emotions of others.

Once we’re more aware, our responses to those emotions begin to change too.

Raising your EQ changes the way you see yourself, the people around you, and the way you go about your work, particularly in human resources. See, the more you understand people, the better your perceptions, interactions, and conversations become — even crucial conversations.

First, let’s work on how we can improve our EQ:

  1. Self- awareness

Emotional Intelligence isn’t fixed like your IQ or personality. It’s something we can work on and improve and the first step to an improved EQ is self-awareness.

So, where do we mess up? What blinds us to our own emotions and the emotions of others?

  1. Healthy Stress

 

Before you can improve your EQ, you must get your stress under control. We all know stress is bad. It compromises the immune system. It’s linked to heart disease, obesity, depression. Because of stress, people miss work (which costs Australia $14.2 billion per year), develop panic disorders, lose sleep, and overeat. It’s bad news, to say the least.

Stress can be a good thing too. In fact, stress and anxiety are absolutely necessary emotions to the way we function. Intermittent mild stress motivates us to act. Plus, it prompts the brain to create the cells responsible for improved memory. That’s why we see an optimal performance with mild to moderate stress levels. Without stress, we end up in a depressive state of boredom.

But, when stress gets out of control, we move into anxiety and meltdown land. Stress at this level doesn’t just affect our health — it causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control. It’s a vicious cycle (and a delicate balance).

When you don’t control your stress, you actually diminish your capacity for self-control and your future capacity for managing stress.

We need stress, but we also need the skills to keep it in moderation. Tools like breathing exercises, going for a walk, and taking a break from work help to bring high stress back down to a moderate level. Even though they’re simple skills, they’re extremely powerful.

  1. Being Thankful (and Why?)

There’s another tool that’s even more simple but can make an even bigger difference: being thankful.

According to Robert A. Emmons, a professor in psychology at UC Davis – “Clinical trials indicate that the practice of gratitude can have dramatic and lasting effects in a person’s life”.

A study at UC Davis found the significance of cultivating an attitude of gratitude. Here’s how the study worked:

There were two groups: a control group and a test group with a reminder in their calendar to pause and think about something they were grateful for multiple times a day. The people who paused for moments of gratitude experienced a 23% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol. That’s just from pausing from their routine — just for a moment — to be thankful.

Stress isn’t fun to think about, but we only get better when we lean into the discomfort of knowing about our weaknesses. Then, we can work on getting better.

Thank You: Two single words that can make a huge impact

Whether you’re getting ready for a crucial conversation at work, or just getting ready for the holidays with family drama, set yourself up for success. Saying “thank you” could be just the ticket you need to see things more clearly.

Work can be stressful, but there are some things you can do to cut the stress and have a happier healthier workday.

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