Emotional Intelligence: Key to Physical and Mental Health

By Alexa Simonics

reviewed by kareem dauda

Emotional intelligence is something that not many people are familiar with, yet it plays an important role in dealing with both physical and mental health. By strengthening our own emotional intelligence, we can learn how to better handle everyday challenges. It can also help prevent future possible physical ailments. In this article, we will go through what emotional intelligence is and how you can strengthen yours. 

So, what is emotional intelligence?

In order to answer this, it’s important to see how emotional intelligence takes place in our lives. Emotional intelligence can also be known through something called the Emotional Quotient (EQ); strong emotional intelligence leads to stronger relationships, better success at work, and higher achievement in personal goals. It has also been shown to enhance decision-making skills. 

Emotional intelligence can be defined by the following:

  • Self-management — the ability to manage emotions in a healthy way; making it easier to adapt to change.
  • Self-awareness — having the ability to observe ourselves (such as our values, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, etc.) as well as observe how other people view us. 
  • Social awareness — having empathy, the ability to pick up on emotional cues and the concerns of others. 
  • Relationship management — improving both personal and work relationships through stronger communication skills.

Emotional intelligence and health

Emotional intelligence holds a strong tie to our health — especially to the mental and physical dimensions of it. 

Your EQ and mental health

A low EQ can lead to uncontrolled emotions and stress which, in turn, can make you more vulnerable to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression. This can also result in difficulty when forming strong relationships. Having a low EQ can lead to misunderstanding other people’s emotions, and may make you feel uncomfortable in situations that require you to manage your emotions (particularly negative ones). 

This is where self-awareness really comes in; it’s a core component in EQ and mental health. Becoming self-aware can make a person more aware of their own emotions which can make them recognize upcoming issues much earlier, and subsequently dealing with them sooner. The focus of self-awareness is on prevention; this is achieved by learning to regulate emotions. This requires daily practice and can be done through methods such as:

  • Mindfulness
  • Positive self-talk
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Professional assistance and guidance, when needed

It can be challenging to change the way we think, but through little steps, these methods can help us get there slowly but surely. 

Your EQ and physical health

As seen before, a strong WQ can help you manage your emotions and stress levels, which in turn helps protect you from several health consequences that can affect you due to stress. This is why learning how to manage stress is the first step in improving your EQ.

But, how do we build emotional intelligence?

Now that we understand what it is and how it can be helpful to us (and how a low EQ can be harmful), it’s time to learn a few ways that we can build EQ into our routine. 

Building emotional intelligence is a process that takes time — the good thing is that we can all do it! It’s general knowledge, however, that implementing changes in someone’s life takes time; you won’t necessarily see the changes overnight! 

It involves steps that require regular practice and attention. This means that you develop your emotional intelligence over time. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible to achieve. Here are some ways to build and strengthen emotional intelligence:

  • Practice good communication — focus on being able to be assertive, but not becoming overly confrontational. Focus on voicing your opinions while still respecting those of others. 
  • This also means practicing your listening skills. Instead of just waiting for someone to finish what they’re saying, listen to them with intent. This helps you understand people better and avoid misunderstandings. 
  • Hone your conflict resolution skills — take responsibility for your own actions and apologize when you need to. If you notice that you tend to have angry reactions in difficult situations or a tendency to blame others, practice calm and control. 
  • Another thing to consider is to regularly reflect on how your actions may affect others. Ask yourself whether or not you would want to experience what you would be giving them? If not, consider taking different types of actions that match the experience you would prefer. 

As mentioned before, these things won’t happen overnight. They take dedication and practice, but with that practice, you can really strengthen your EQ, leading to strengthened relationships, work performance, and overall health.

Alexa Simonics
A content creator through and through and passionate about the importance of holistic living and a preventative lifestyle. Combining this with my passion for writing has meant that I can educate and empower others to do the same.

Kareem Dauda

I am an experienced researcher who has a great passion for public and occupational health and digital technology. I aim to explore both psychological, biological, and social factors that affect individual wellbeing and happiness. As a graduate of Psychology and Health Science from the prestigious Technical University of Munich (TUM), my main aim is to promote how health knowledge can be effectively communicated to individuals and populations. I have a passion for digital health learning and ways to leverage technology to accelerate how behaviour can be positively changed.

Branscum, P., Bhochhibhoya, A., & Sharma, M. (2014). The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Mental Health and Type D Personality among Young Adults. International Quarterly of Community Health Education, 34(4), 351–365. https://doi.org/10.2190/IQ.34.4.e

Fernández-Abascal, E. G., & Martín-Díaz, M. D. (2015). Dimensions of emotional intelligence related to physical and mental health and to health behaviors. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 317. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00317

Gill, G. (2019, June 22). Emotional Intelligence and Mental Health. https://www.psychreg.org/emotional-intelligence-mental-health/#:%7E:text=The%20ability%20to%20regulate%20emotion,due%20to%20inability%20to%20cope

Khoshakhlagh, H., & Faramarzi, S. (2012). The relationship of emotional intelligence and mental disorders with internet addiction in internet users university students. Addiction & health, 4(3-4), 133–141.

Lenneville, E. (2014, September 1). Can Adults Improve Their Emotional Intelligence? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-adults-improve-their-emotional-intelligence/?error=cookies_not_supported&code=27414678-06c3-4e36-808a-22531e12938a

Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1993). The intelligence of emotional intelligence. Intelligence, 17(4), 433-442.

Mayer, J. D. & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds). Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Implications for Educators (pp. 3-31). New York: Basic Books.

More articles