9 ways emotionally intelligent people handle stress differently

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Do you feel like you handle stress differently from most people?

I’m willing to bet that you’re an emotionally intelligent person too.

Because it turns out, emotionally intelligent people have a different approach to stress than most. 

I realized recently that I am one of these people, and I was thrilled to find out how beneficial this was for my life and those around me. 

Want to know how exactly? Let’s find out below. 

1) They recognize and acknowledge their emotions

The first way that emotionally intelligent people handle stress differently is by recognizing and acknowledging their emotions.

But wait, is this really something different? Doesn’t everyone do this? 

Sadly, no. A lot of people fall out of touch with their emotions and don’t practice enough self-reflection to truly understand where their reactions are coming from.

I see this often in my office. Someone comes in, visibly agitated, and naturally has a very difficult time handling any situation that’s remotely stressful at work. 

But as they’re stuffing their feelings down, they leak out in every small interaction they have, both with colleagues and also with startled clients who don’t understand why they seem so hostile. 

If you’re an emotionally intelligent person, you do everyone a great service by getting in touch with your emotions so that you can manage them, and stress, more effectively.

2) They practice self-care

Think about it. When you’re stressed, do you tend to neglect your own well-being? 

It’s a common pattern for many people. They push themselves harder, skip meals, lose sleep, and disregard their own needs in the pursuit of solving their problems.

But emotionally intelligent individuals understand that taking care of themselves is crucial especially during challenging times. They make self-care a priority. 

They carve out time for activities that replenish their energy and bring them joy. For me, it’s listening to my favorite music and doing some meditation.

For you, it could be going for a walk in nature, or taking a quick nap. 

Remember, taking care of yourself is not selfish—it’s a necessity that allows you to show up as your best self and effectively manage stress.

3) They seek support

When dealing with stress, emotionally intelligent people tend to seek support.

A lot of people are scared to do this because they don’t want to burden anyone, or show weakness. But reaching out to others is actually a strength.

You can seek support from trusted friends, family members, or others who are involved in the situation and can directly benefit from helping you. 

By sharing your thoughts and feelings, you’ll gain different perspectives and insights and be able to find a much better solution than if you tried to go at it alone.

And, you get the chance to bond more deeply with the people helping you and develop a relationship of trust.

Obviously, emotionally intelligent people are happy to return the favor whenever anyone else needs their help too — it’s always a two-way street. 

4) They make sure to communicate effectively

Most people are great communicators when they’re calm and collected.

But all that can go out the window in 1.6 seconds when stakes are high. Suddenly, communication breaks down or comes to a halt, and misunderstandings and conflicts ensue.

Emotionally intelligent people are not perfect by any means. In fact, they understand that this is a weakness that all humans face.

And that’s why they pay extra careful attention to how they communicate in periods of high stress

They plan out what they want to say, keeping the goal of the conversation in mind and don’t let themselves get sidetracked or pulled into petty arguments.

They express their needs and concerns clearly and politely, and actively ask questions to help them understand the other side as well.

This also includes choosing their words carefully, considering the impact that they can have on others. 

It took me a while to get better at this, and the truth is it does take time to develop this skill. But once you can get better at it, you’ll see an immense difference in the outcome of any difficult conversations. 

5) They incorporate mindfulness and relaxation into their everyday routine

Another way emotionally intelligent people handle stress differently is by incorporating mindfulness and relaxation into their everyday routines.

Actually, this isn’t so much handling stress as preventing it. 

You don’t wait until the situation is critical and you’re about to fall to pieces. Rather, you make a habit of working through even small stresses on a regular basis, and finding an overall sense of calm. 

It can be as simple as taking a few minutes each day to pause, breath, and bring your focus to the present moment. 

Or it can be a longer practice such as a guided meditation, yoga session, or deep breathing exercises. 

For me, practicing mindfulness has been a real game-changer. When I feel really overwhelmed I take a few minutes to sit quietly, close my eyes, and focus on my breath. 

It helps me regain balance and clarity, making it easier to navigate through challenging moments. 

6) They focus on solutions rather than problems

When faced with stressful situations, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity and dwell on the problems at hand. However, emotionally intelligent individuals take a different approach.

Instead of fixating on what went wrong or the obstacles they face, they shift their mindset towards finding solutions. 

They channel their energy into brainstorming ideas, exploring different perspectives, and identifying actionable steps to move forward.

I found this to help me stay much calmer when something comes up at work. I even like to think of it as a video game — find a way to get rid of the boss monster and move up to the next level.

Because at the end of the day, what would life be like with zero problems? Pretty boring and predictable, and not all that worth living.

Besides that, problems are pretty inevitable for anyone. So finding a more positive way to approach them can make a world of difference in how happy you are in life.

7) They set healthy boundaries

Setting healthy boundaries is crucial for managing stress effectively, and emotionally intelligent people understand the importance of protecting their well-being.

They recognize that saying “no” when necessary is not being rude or conflictive, but rather a demonstration of self-care and self-respect. 

By setting clear boundaries, they prevent overwhelm and ensure that their energy is directed towards what truly matters.

For instance, I was dealing with a pretty stressful personal situation a few weeks ago, and a friend of mine was asking me a ton of questions about it.

I’m sure he meant well, but the way he was phrasing them sounded pretty negative and not very helpful.

I politely and calmly told him that I needed to handle the problem on my own, and that if I had something to share I would reach out to him myself.

At the end of the day, taking this approach to handling stress protects other people in your life too, because you don’t let them do things that would damage your relationship. 

8) They practice perspective-taking

Here’s something unusual that most people don’t do when they handle stress — unless they’re emotionally intelligent.

It’s perspective-taking. This is the practice of considering how another person involved in the problem is feeling.

And it’s unusual because most people are wrapped up in their own worries, anxieties, and stress. This is what’s most important to them, and they don’t even consider having the capacity to think about someone else.

In my experience though, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes actually takes the pressure off you rather than adds to it.

When I do it, it helps me understand that people around me have good intentions, and subconsciously adopt a more collaborative approach rather than an “us versus them” mentality. 

And I can clearly see the impact this has on problems, being resolved much more smoothly. 

9) They cultivate a sense of humor

Last but certainly not least, emotionally intelligent individuals know how to lighten the mood and find humor even in the midst of stress. 

They understand that laughter is a powerful antidote to stress and can help shift perspectives.

Obviously, there are situations that just aren’t funny, and humor would be inappropriate.

But in many other cases, you can diffuse tension and create a more positive atmosphere. Just because you’re facing a problem doesn’t mean you have to go about it miserably!

Happy minds are much better able to process and analyze information, so this is actually very helpful too.

Handling stress as an emotionally intelligent person

As an emotionally intelligent person, you’ve probably been handling stress differently with these 9 ways already.

But you may not have realized it consciously — so now that you see them written down, you can become even more mindful of how you tackle problems.

When you start using your gifts consciously, you can develop them much further than you had even imagined — so celebrate the amazing way your mind works, and keep on being awesome! 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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