The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Mental Health

Written by: Zafra Aswar Ali 

Out of the many functions carried out by the human brain, the generation of emotions is one of the most remarkable functions that plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, when feeling stressed or encountering any emotion that may be threatening to oneself and those around, some individuals are able to better deal with the situation than others. This is due to the ability to display emotional intelligence. 

The term emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) was initially introduced in 1990 by two psychologists named Mayer and Salovey. It can be defined as one’s capability to accurately comprehend, process, and control information related to emotions. This can be either within oneself and utilising that information to express the appropriate thoughts and actions as well as guide others on how to think and act accordingly during a specific situation that eventually results in sustaining a better mental state. 

Moreover, when compared to the intelligence quotient (IQ), emotional intelligence is a dynamic intellectual feature that is comprised of five major skills that can be acquired and enhanced when one already possesses such skills. These skills are self-regulation (ability to manage negative emotions and adapt to changes), motivation (ability to self-motivate to attain self-satisfaction), empathy (ability in understanding others’ feelings), social skills (ability to manage others’ emotions to build rapport), and self-awareness (ability to identify and understand one’s own emotions). While some people have a natural tendency of displaying higher emotional intelligence, others should be mindful of initially cultivating these basic skills to improve their levels of emotional intelligence. 

Based on these details it can be comprehended that emotional intelligence and the importance of practicing it has become a vital aspect in one’s personal as well as professional life. In addition, it also has a major influence on improving the mental well-being of individuals by enabling them to cope with mentally challenging situations. Let us look at some key benefits of practicing emotional intelligence on one’s mental health. 

1. Ability to manage stress 

Experiencing stress during a challenging situation is common and a certain level of stress are undoubtedly essential for progression. On the contrary, specific stressful situations like work stress have the potential to result in harmful behaviours and require one’s ability to analyse the situation with emotional intelligence. 

Subsequently, learning the art of emotional intelligence and implementing it while encountering stress, and controlling one’s own negative reactions to others’ negative emotions, becomes rather convenient, especially within workforces. 

2. Ability to accept constructive criticism 

Criticism is negative feedback to someone, whereas constructive criticism is also negative feedback, but one that allows an individual to improve themselves for their betterment. While nobody would be willing to accept criticism, many people may find it difficult to accept constructive criticism as well due to a lack of emotional intelligence. 

Hence, when one practices emotional intelligence, they learn to accept constructive criticisms during studies or employment with self-regulation rather than reacting with enragement. 

3. Increased resilience 

After going through negative experiences, not all individuals have the capability to analyse and cope with negative emotions. However, with emotional intelligence, a person would be more resilient and adapt themselves to a positive change. This in turn leads to better mental health. 

4. Higher levels of confidence 

Being confident is useful for mental well-being as confidence can help people think positively and take better decisions in life. This quality can be developed with emotional intelligence as well because he/she develops the sense of identifying and regulating emotions and becomes confident in facing whatever life strikes them with. 

Emotional intelligence is a vital skill that helps in the management of stress, increase resilience, regulate emotions as well as maintain strong interpersonal relationships in the long run. It can be developed mainly by self-reflecting and is undoubtedly beneficial in upholding stable mental health.