As leaders, we often find ourselves in situations where high-stakes decisions and constant pressure are the norm, finding effective ways to navigate and regulate emotions is crucial. While emotional intelligence has long been recognized as a vital leadership skill, there is a powerful but often overlooked tool for developing emotional intelligence: our bodies.
This week we explore how being connected to our bodies can help leaders deal more effectively with stressful situations, fostering emotional intelligence and enhancing their leadership abilities.
So what should we be focusing on in order to let our bodies help us regulate stress rather than hinder us?
The Subconscious Mind and Meaning Making
As leaders, our subconscious mind plays a significant role in our decision-making and emotional responses. By becoming aware of the ways our bodies hold and process emotions, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our reactions. Recognizing that our bodies are meaning-making machines, we can start to unravel the unconscious patterns that shape our leadership style and emotional intelligence.
Embracing Emotional Release
In our fast-paced lives, we often suppress or ignore our emotions, fearing that they will consume us or hinder our productivity. However, "The Body Keeps the Score" reminds us that emotions are meant to be felt and released. Research suggests that emotions typically last for only about 90 seconds when we allow ourselves to fully experience them. By acknowledging and allowing our emotions to move through our bodies, we can effectively close the stress response loop, promoting emotional regulation and resilience.
The Gazelle's Lesson: Body Shaking for Regulation
Animals in the wild instinctively regulate their bodies after experiencing stress or trauma. For instance, a gazelle shakes vigorously to discharge the stress response and restore equilibrium. As leaders, we can learn from this innate wisdom by engaging in body-shaking exercises or other somatic practices. By intentionally releasing tension and energy stored in our bodies, we can promote emotional regulation, reduce stress, and enhance our overall well-being.
Cultivating Mindful Body Awareness
Practising mindful body awareness is a powerful tool for leaders seeking to enhance emotional intelligence. By regularly tuning into our bodily sensations and signals, we can become attuned to our emotions, stress levels, and physical well-being. This heightened self-awareness enables us to respond more skillfully to challenging situations, make informed decisions, and adapt our leadership style to best support ourselves and our teams.
Nurturing Body-Mind Connection
To foster emotional intelligence and promote well-being, leaders can incorporate body-based practices into their daily routines. Engaging in physical exercise, such as yoga, dance, or tai chi, not only improves physical health but also strengthens the body-mind connection. These practices enhance body awareness, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of presence and resilience.
It is essential to recognise the profound influence our bodies have on our emotional intelligence and leadership capabilities. By cultivating a deeper connection to our bodies, embracing emotional release, and integrating body-based practices, we can navigate stressful situations with greater self-awareness, empathy, and adaptability.
Remember, developing emotional intelligence and body connection is a personal journey, and it is beneficial to seek support from qualified professionals or therapists specialising in trauma and body-based approaches to guide you along the way.
If you’re interested in working together on unlocking the next steps in your leadership journey through personalised 1:1 coaching send me a message and we can go from there.