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How Meditation Increases Emotional Intelligence

Posted By Trevor McDonald, Wednesday, November 14, 2018
Updated: Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Emotional intelligence can be a sign of emotional strength, and it’s a trait that many people strive to achieve. But while most of us strive to become emotionally intelligent, some are confused about what that really means.

emotional intelligence illustration

What is emotional intelligence?

It’s common to confuse emotional intelligence with empathy, but the two are mutually exclusive. You can have empathy and not emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence comes into play when you have enough self-awareness to be able to manage your empathy.

Emotional intelligence is comprised of the following:

  1. Self-awareness — a conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, and desires.
  2. Social awareness — an understanding of other people’s feelings and motivations (this includes empathy).
  3. Self-management — the ability to maintain self-control, remain adaptable and have a positive outlook.
  4. Relationship management — the ability to work within a team, resolve conflicts and inspire leadership.

How to Achieve Emotional Intelligence

Think about emotional intelligence in terms of a workout. If you wanted to run a marathon or enter a bodybuilding competition, you’d have to train. You can set goals, but if you’re like most people, you’re always going to strive to be better.

In that way, emotional intelligence is like fitness. But instead of working out your body, you’re working out your mind.

Meditation is one of the best ways to exercise your mind, but you can also start with self-awareness. Step back and take a mental note of how you handle your own emotions. Are you quick to react without thinking things through? If so, you have some room for improvement.

Meditation is such a good mental practice that it’s commonly incorporated into addiction recovery treatment and other counseling methods. But you don’t need to be in recovery to strengthen your mind.

How Meditation Increases Emotional Intelligence

rocks stacked in a zen sand garden

Did you know that meditation can actually change the physical structure of your brain? A Harvard research team came to this conclusion after studying the effects of meditation. When you start to meditate, the changes you’re likely to see can help support your emotional IQ.

  • Self-awareness — Improved self-awareness is a major goal of meditation. When you meditate, you’re training your mind to focus in the present moment. Through meditation and mindfulness, you become more aware of your thoughts and physical presence.
  • Social awarenessMeditation strengthens connections between two areas of the brain that can help improve a person’s sense of empathy: The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex and the insula. The dorsomedial prefrontal cortex manages your personal perspective while the insula is involved with inferring someone else’s state of mind. As you become more aware of other people’s feelings and motives, you will become more socially aware.
  • Self-management — Meditation can help weaken neural connections in the amygdala and strengthen connections in the prefrontal cortex. Fear and anger are triggered in the amygdala while the prefrontal cortex is responsible for rational thought and logic. The combination of reducing fear and boosting logic can help you improve levels of self-control and self-management.
  • Relationship management — Meditation can help you become more aware and in-control over your own emotions. It can also help you become more aware of other people's emotions. Through increased empathy and understanding, you can improve things like teamwork, conflict management, and empathy. As you let go of personal bias, you'll find that you're able to have more effective discussions and better relationships.

How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation

If you’ve been avoiding meditation because you think it’s difficult or the thought seems overwhelming, you may be in for a treat. While meditation may be difficult to master, it is simple to practice. You don't need any special tools or expensive equipment. All you need is the willingness and a quiet space to practice.

Sit in a quiet room, preferably facing a blank wall. This will help eliminate any distractions. Next, set a timer for 5 minutes. Your goal within these 5 minutes is to focus on the present moment. Start by noticing your breath. Feel the air as it flows through your nostrils. Don’t try to control your breaths, but just notice them. If you start thinking about anything, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply try not to follow the thought. For example, if you remember you have to get milk, try to let it end there. Don’t follow the thought down the path of what else you might need or what you’re going to use the milk for. When the timer buzzes, you have completed your session. As you feel more confident in your practice, you may increase time by 5-minute increments until you reach 30 minutes.

Note: The mindfulness meditation described here is a different practice than transcendental meditation. Both practices are very beneficial. For an article about the difference between these two practices, click here. To download our tool for Transcendental Meditation, click here.

Emotional intelligence is a trait that some of the world’s greatest leaders have in spades, and you can have it too. Strengthen your mind through meditation, and you should notice a difference in your emotional IQ.


Trevor McDonaldTrevor McDonald is a freelance writer and recovering addict and alcoholic who's been clean and sober for over 5 years. Since his recovery began, he has enjoyed using his talent for words to help spread treatment resources, addiction awareness, and general health knowledge. In his free time, you can find him working with recovering addicts or outside enjoying about any type of fitness activity imaginable.

Tags:  addiction recovery  emotional intelligence  meditation  mindfulness  wellness 

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Health Consciousness and Resilience Training is More Than "Check the Box"

Posted By Administration, Friday, November 2, 2018

The Roles of Resilience and Empowered Health Consciousness

Resilience is operable in a window of time; it is the “bounce back” from adversity. Health consciousness is an ongoing process. It comes before resilience, is at play during resilience, and continues after the resilience. If you are not conscious of what’s happening during the stress-inducing event, you are not going to be resilient. Being present and aware during an adverse experience enables you to learn from the difficulty, promoting a resilient response.

Resilience and health consciousness work together to create a culture of awareness and learning in which people respond more positively to adversity.

Resilience vs. Empowered Health Consciousness

A course in resilience and stress management will not help your staff if they return to a toxic work environment. Empowered Health Consciousness is a route to addressing resiliency work in a conscious, mindful way to stimulate growth and health in the work culture, the work climate, and the work environment. Health consciousness and resilience work together.

The National Wellness Institute offers two facilitator certificate courses in partnership with Organizational Wellness and Learning Systems (OWLS):

Resilience & Thriving: The Secret Power of Stress
Empowered Health Consciousness

Individuals who earn a Facilitator Certificate through NWI will be able to use the tools, resources, and techniques provided in the certificate course to train students, employees, and clients in various settings in the topic presented.


Tags:  Emotional intelligence  empowered health consciousness  resilience  thriving 

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Take Your Health into Your Own Hands

Posted By NWI, Friday, November 2, 2018
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2018

Take 5 minutes to learn your personal cancer risk and get simple steps to take charge of your breast and ovarian health.  


Your health is in your hands.

Bright Pink is an organization like no other that seeks to advance the conversation around breast and ovarian cancer beyond awareness to action. It is built on a foundation of focusing on health, not cancer.

Today, Bright Pink is launching a new and improved version of their digital quiz, Assess Your Risk, to better empower all women to learn their breast and ovarian cancer risk and manage their health proactively. While Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an excellent time to talk about breast health, Bright Pink is fiercely committed 365 days a year to ensuring women can be their own best health advocates. They have updated their flagship program, Assess Your Risk, to do just that.

Take your health into your own hands

Want to learn more about what's different?

Already assessed your risk? Believe it or not, you should assess your risk annually as your breast and ovarian cancer risk can change over time and the medical community is always learning about new factors that affect our risk.

Bright Pink Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.


Tags:  Breast Cancer  Cancer  Health  Ovarian Cancer 

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NWI Member Spotlight — November 2018

Posted By NWI, Thursday, November 1, 2018
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2018
Kristi Leonard - Member Spotlight

Kristi Leonard EdD, MA, CWP, NBC-HWC

NWI Board of Directors Member

Assistant Dean of Students - Central College, Pella, IA

In 2016, Kristi returned to her alma mater, Central College, as the Assistant Dean of Students, Wellness and Well-Being. Her primary charge is to further Central's Integrated Learning plan through providing focused vision, oversight, and management of wellness-related initiatives, programs, and services for students.  She also oversees Counseling Services, the Maytag Wellness Center, and is the Pella Regional Health Center liaison. 

Prior to her return to Central, Kristi served as a faculty member at Waldorf University from 2005-2016. She was a tenured Associate Professor of Wellness, the Wellness Department Chair, and served as the Faculty Chair for three years, where she represented the faculty in many capacities. She was honored with the Waldorf Board of Trustees Outstanding Faculty Award in 2014. From 2000-2005, Kristi worked at Luther College in the areas of wellness, residence life, and student activities.

Kristi has been and is very active in her local communities. She is currently a member of the Pella Wellness Consortium, the Pella Professional and Business Women’s Forum, the Pella Youth Coalition, and Leadership Red Rock. She co-constructed an outdoor labyrinth in college prairie grass for the community to use, and collaborated to create and facilitate a Healthy Kids program as well as a 3K3 walk/run/wag event, in which all proceeds went to the American Cancer Society. She was the Chair of the Forest City Wellness Coalition, Vice President of the Forest City YMCA Board of Directors, a member of the Forest City Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and a member of the Puckerbrush 5K committee. 

Globally she has created, developed, and implemented a study abroad course and experience titled “Exploring Wellness in Yucatan.” She looks forward to putting this course into action again during Central’s 2019 two-week spring break.
In her free time, Kristi enjoys working out, watching sports, listening to music, reading, and spending time with friends, family, and her husband Terry and their one-year-old cavapoo, Gracie.

Kristi Leonard can be contacted at: 

Central College
812 University
Pella, Iowa   50219

641-628-5633
leonardk@central.edu


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Compassion Fatigue in Nursing

Posted By JoAnne Worthington, Wednesday, October 31, 2018
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2018

All nurses are at risk of experiencing negative personal experiences, during their careers from occupational factors. When we witness patient suffering, traumatic events, untimely deaths, or when errors occur that lead to patient harm; negative personal outcomes occur. Often the effects are short-term; however, with continued exposure or contact with traumatic circumstances, secondary traumatic stress/distress can develop. Once feelings emerge that include being overwhelmed with a fear of work and somatic complaints such as insomnia, aches/pain, anxiety, and depression, compassion fatigue (CF), is usually present.

Self-compassion, mindfulness, and meditations can be thought of as mental exercise, it takes time and is a skill set to learn.

CF is not simply feeling tired of work, nor is it burnout. CF is a combination of physical, emotional, and spiritual responses resulting from continued self-sacrifice. When nurses work towards optimizing the health and well-being of others, often their self-care is lacking. CF is noted when clinicians lose the ability to nurture others, as empathic fatigue is another way to think of CF. When nurses lose the desire and ability to care for others, there are personal consequences of inadequate performance which can lead to errors, decreased health physically, as well as psychosocially.

CF affects each person directly by impacting their well-being, familial relationships, and job satisfaction. On occasion, personal distress develops in which the nurse may choose to cope using unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, overeating, and self-medicating with alcohol or recreational drugs. Additionally, withdraw behaviors can occur, such as absenteeism, countertransference of negative reactions with incivility/bullying of peers, and lack of engagement at work, with family, and within their community. CF does not affect just the individual nurse; family, friends, patients, coworkers and institutions will experience negative outcomes and consequences as well. 

CF is a significant issue for patient safety, and there are evidence-based practices that can decrease one’s risk. Personal self-care is necessary for coping and stress management to maintain the ability to care for one’s self, family, community, and patient/populations. Seeking work-life integration by meeting physical, emotional, and personal spiritual needs are not realistic at all times. Self-care in itself is limiting due to prioritizations with work and family. Integration of one's career with self-care along physical, emotional, and spiritual cultivation is necessary to promote one's well-being to facilitate empathic caring of others. As we are all reminded before flying, always put the mask on yourself first to best provide for those surrounding you.

Mindfulness-based practices have been found to be effective for both stress reduction and self-compassion. Prioritizing one’s time to work towards self-care is not being selfish, it is, in fact, foundational for personal growth and resilience. Mindfulness practices noted in nursing literature to improve and combat CF are Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, MBSR, and Mindful Self Compassion, MSC. Both have specific interventions that can be performed within five minutes of any part of one's day. A technique known as a body scan is when one takes a general survey of how one is physically feeling, usually sitting down. Begin at the toes and slowly move/scan up the body with thoughtful observation. Areas in the body are then discovered that are experiencing tension. When one is mindful of tension, relaxation exercises with breathing and gentle stretching can be beneficial. Loving-kindness meditations can be easily learned to extend from those we love and care for to include ourselves. Start with thoughts of those we love; I wish them peace, I wish them health, I wish them to live at ease, I wish them _____________. Then turn those exact thoughts to yourself, without any self-judgment; I wish myself peace, May I know health, May I live at ease, May I _____________. Talk to yourself as you would a dear friend.

Being Mindful can be stressful at first, noticing every time one is critical of one's self or one's negative self-talk can be enlightening. Self-care goes beyond diet and sleep; it includes gifting one's self with time to deep breathe, accepting one's limitations as not negative but with wisdom. Self-compassion, mindfulness, and meditations can be thought of as mental exercise, it takes time and is a skill set to learn. Acknowledging when work-related events/triggers create feelings of stress/distress responses should be encouraged to give nurses the opportunity to seek resources and supportive services. 

The ability for personal timeouts such as quiet rooms/spaces, debriefing opportunities, and mentoring of novice nurses all have been showed to have a positive effect on preventing CF. Seeking support spiritually and emotionally is also recommended. There are many resources available to nurses; employee assistance programs are usually at no cost, meditation and light yoga practices online are too numerous to list, and wellness integration programs for stress reduction are also available including Cranio-Sacral therapy, Acupuncture, and massage. Mindfulness can be learned; please see the below noted references for more information. If we as nurses would only treat ourselves and each other the ways we treat our patients, more nurturing work environments would ensue. Let’s start to work together more proactively to promote this shift in our culture to incorporate self-care, interventions in times of stress/distress, and incorporating skills/resources all nursing staff can use to promote best possible patient care outcomes.  

 

References

Bazarko, D., Cate, R. A., Azocar, F., & Kreitzer (2013). The impact of an innovative mindfulness-based stress reduction program on the health and well-being of nurses employed in a corporate setting. Journal of Workplace Behavioral Health, 28, 107-133. DOI: 10.1080/15555240.2013.779518

Boyle, D. A. (2015).  Occupational stress in oncology nurse caregiving: Caring for ourselves. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 19(5), 499. doi: 10.1188/15.CJON.499

Figley, C. R. (1995). The transmission of trauma. In C. R. Figley (Ed.), Compassion fatigue: Coping with secondary traumatic stress disorder in those who treat the traumatized (pp. 248 -254). London: Brunner-Routledge.

Harris, C. & Griffin, M.T.Q. (2015).  Nursing on empty: Compassion fatigue signs, symptoms, and system interventions.  Journal of Christian Nursing, 32(2), 80-87. doi: 10.1097/CNJ.0000000000000155

Neff, K. & Germer, C. (2018). The mindful self-compassion workbook: A proven way to accept yourself, build inner strength, and thrive. New York: NY, The Guilford Press.

Potter, P., Deshields, T., Berger, J.A., Clarke, M., Olsen, S., & Chen, L. (2013). Evaluation of a compassion fatigue resiliency program for oncology nurses. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40, 180-187. doi:10.1188/13.ONF.108-187

Regan, K.R. (2012). Basics of compassion fatigue.

Stamm, B.H. (2010). The concise ProQOL manual. (2nd ed.). Pocatello, ID: ProQOL.org


JoAnne WorthingtonJoAnne Worthington, MSN, RN-BC, OCN is a registered nurse in the state of Ohio for over 20 years. Certified in both medical-surgical and oncology nursing. She is an adjunct faculty for Cincinnati State Technical and Community College for fundamental nursing students (ADN program). She is currently in her senior year of the DNP program at Mount St. Joseph University.


Tags:  Compassion  Fatigue  Nursing 

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