A Senior's Perspective: Emotional Intelligence

For the last four years, I’ve been drilled with exams, quizzes and writing assignments all of which are necessary for my learning. However, now that I’m on my way out and into the working world, I’m being told my emotional intelligence is more important. Emotional intelligence refers not to your IQ or book knowledge, but to the ability to manage emotions.

The one thing that really stuck out to me when evaluating my emotional intelligence is how I handle stress. You don’t have to have a full-time job to occasionally fall under the curse of being stressed out. With finals coming up, I’m imagining roughly 90 percent of us will feel quite overwhelmed. While I’m no expert at managing stress, I have been conscious of my reactions to stress for quite a while. Last semester was the hardest academic semester I’ve had at Auburn, and I also was shoulder deep in planning a wedding. This semester my course load is much easier, but I am now ear deep in wedding planning. Through this year, I’ve learned several things about managing my stress and reacting well to stress.
  1. Writing things down helps keep me from getting overwhelmed. When I write things down, I know that I won’t forget it. Keeping a planner up-to-date is one of the best things I’ve done throughout my college career. It keeps me from double booking and wasting time.
  2. Exercise can be used to prevent stress and relieve stress. I haven’t always been great about exercising. A lot of times when I am stressed I feel like exercise is a complete waste of time. However, this semester I’ve been very disciplined to exercise more, even if it’s only a 30-minute walk. What I’ve found is that the physical activity works out my anxious jitters and usually gears me to productivity. This is great because on the days that I’m not very busy, I get things finished thus leaving my next day a little less busy. It keeps things from piling high and keeps me feeling better. It also helps when I’m in the middle of a stress out phase. Taking a break from the hustle and bustle of school and work to move my body leaves me feeling more relaxed. 
  3. Concentrated breathing sounds silly, but helps a lot when feeling stressed. As previously stated my academic schedule is not very strenuous this semester. I am fortunate enough to be able to take a stress reduction course in the physical education department. One of the best things I have learned is the use of meditation and breathing. I don’t always have the time for a 30-minute guided breathing exercise, and I’m sure most of you don’t either. However, in those times of gut-wrenching stress or anxiety, close your eyes and take 10 slow, deep breaths. It sounds silly, but taking that time to concentrate on your breathing slows your heartbeat and relaxes your body. Chances are you were tensing either your jaw or shoulders. By taking the time to breath slowly, you can relax those muscles.
These are just a few of the things that I found help me relax. Everyone is different, so maybe there are some other good activities you can do to unwind from your day. Whatever it is, realize that how to react to situations, stressful or not, plays a key role in how you are viewed as an employee.

BONUS: The Auburn University Career Center and DEI are co-sponsoring a Stress Relief Panel (WITH free food) on Thursday, August 26. Check it out here.

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