10 Techniques to Manage Anxiety And Increase Emotional Intelligence

10 Techniques to Manage Anxiety And Increase Emotional Intelligence

Our Primal Brain

The emotion center of our brain is the oldest part of the human brain. Many regions fundamental to mood are buried deep in the most primordial parts of the brain. They are thought to have been among the first to develop in the human species. Our instinctive fight-or-flight response comes from this region. The limbic system is the major primordial brain network reinforcing mood. It’s a network of regions that work together to process and make sense of the world. The limbic system is made up of the hypothalamus, hippocampus and the amygdala.

While the threats we face in modern times are rarely violent, our brains evolved to deal with physical threats to survive. To fight or to find safety from the danger we are experiencing. Therefore, your body still responds with biological changes that prepare us to fight, even though there is no actual physical threat with which we must contend. The primal brain triggers a sudden and intense unconscious emotional response that shuts off the cortex, making it hard for you to think clearly about the situation. As your brain triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, you find it increasingly hard to problem solve and concentrate.

A way to overcome the primal response is through development of emotional intelligence. A person who is emotionally intelligent has strong connections between the emotional center of his or her brain and the executive thinking center. Emotionally intelligent people know how to de-escalate their own emotions as well as those of others by becoming engaged, focused, and attentive to their thoughts and feelings.

10 Techniques to Manage Anxiety And Increase Emotional Intelligence

1. Recognize: when the fight or flight feelings are attempting to take over notice how your body responds (increased heart rate, sweating, dry mouth, etc.).
2. Breath work: diaphragmatic breathing with muscle relaxation.
3. Practice mindfulness: be in the moment without emotion or judgement.
4. Rest and relax: it’s important to take time to allow the body and mind to rest and relax through meditation and/or exercise and to receive sufficient sleep.
5. Stop thinking the worse scenario: both thought and behavior are influenced by the assumption that this is the worst situation.
6. Replace anxious thoughts: with positive thoughts, an anxious mind has you cope over and over with fear with a circular pattern.
7. Contain your worry: keep control of your worries so they don’t get out of proportion.
8. Control too much activity: being able to shift gears and not become stuck in over activity or perfectionism.
9. Change behavior and self talk: changing your mind goes hand in hand with changing behavior, affirmations are key.
10. Implement a plan with calm, competence and confidence: create a plan to manage life’s challenges using the techniques to manage anxiety.

Mindfulness plays a key role in emotional intelligence and refers to being aware of the present moment. One way to practice mindfulness, in general, is to choose something in your environment to focus on and try to notice all of its qualities. Rather than mindlessly zooming through your day, try to slow down and pay attention.

Name your emotions as you experience them. This helps to engage the thinking part of your brain and trigger mindfulness.
Take deep breaths from your abdomen.  Breathing deeply  will help to bring oxygen to the brain and slow you down.
Draw on mindfulness. Look around you and notice things in the environment. This will help you to move out of your head and back into the situation.
Take a timeout.  If you are truly feeling out of control, excuse yourself from the situation you are in to get a hold of your emotions.

Planning ahead using preventive strategies will help you to develop your emotional intelligence and reduce the frequency of the fight-or-flight response. As humans, we have the ability to think about our thoughts and choose different ones when some are not serving us well. Make this choice to improve your emotional intelligence and prevent the primal brain from interfering with your daily life.