by Taylor Reid
Emotional intelligence is the art of understanding, processing and managing our moods and feelings. It’s also proven to ward of mental health issues. This practice is the key part of staying on top of the strains and sentiments of everyday life, and taking care of our minds.
Mental health problems hit headlines every day. 1 in 4 people are said to be suffering, which means we need to take our emotional health very seriously but does this constant coverage lead us to self-diagnose and see experiencing emotions as a bad thing? While so many (including myself) are sharing their experiences of anxiety and depression, perhaps we also need to have conversations that acknowledge and process anxious or depressed feelings without attaching them to a medical condition.
I’ve been thinking more and more about our emotional God, and how we can appreciate our emotions in the right way. Here are some steps we can use to help look after our emotional health…
One of the first and biggest parts of emotional intelligence is naming and describing how we feel. Often we find it difficult to distinguish what emotion we are actually feeling! For example telling the difference between angry and hangry (An everyday confusion for me!) can be vital. According to the University of California, being able to name our feelings and fears, and what is happening around us helps us to rationalise and deal with repeat situations and feelings.
Make Space for them:
As humans it’s important that we appropriately express and process emotion after naming it. This is not just to make sure we don’t get an emotional build up but also that we acknowledge emotion as part of the very nature of God. I find it amazing every time I reach the tangible weight of the tiny scripture: Jesus wept. The smallest verse creating the biggest space to appreciate the emotion of the Most High. Sorrow and grief in its rightful place, rightfully expressed.
So how often do we make space for our emotion? Allowing a response to that which is happening around us? Suppression may lead to depression, but naming and giving ourselves space to explore what we currently feel can help us safely identify their cause too, which is key to maintaining our emotional health.
That’s not to say erratic outbursts are the best way to express ourselves or take care of our minds. It’s also not to say that every emotion we feel reflects God’s character. But it’s giving ourselves permission to feel, and power to control those feelings. Once we’re able to identify the root of our emotions, and name them, we can find practical methods to overcome or appreciate them. Try the acronym ‘HALT’. Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired? These states often mess with our feelings and perspective. Eat, breath, spend time with others and get some rest in amongst busy schedules. Our honesty also creates space to connect with, and receive from God. He worked through doubt with Gideon, he gave Esther courage under-pressure and in Elijah’s honesty in complete despair, we see God respond with instruction to rest and eat cake (I could get used to that remedy…).
God isn’t surprised by how we are feeling. But working with him is the best way to stay on top of the tides and to stay level during uneasy times.
by Taylor Reid