Emotional Agility

The year 2020 has fundamentally changed life as we know it. A world that thrives on interactions saw millions confined to the four walls of their homes.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented rise in anxiety in virtually all communities around the world. Many of us are feeling stuck in life, with no way out. However, many people seem to wonder what the solution for it all is?

After all, it is pretty clear that we all need to utilize self-help tools to feel better and deal with the situation. If we look at the news, we all know this pandemic is far from over. From working mothers to college students, everyone has gone through anxiety or depression from this pandemic at some point. 

However, while we cannot make the pandemic disappear, we can make this feeling of being stuck in a rut disappear with emotional agility. 

In this post, we will talk about everything that you need to know about emotional agility. In addition, we will give certain tips on how you can have it in your life.

What is Emotional Agility?

A woman sitting in a field holding up a mirror in front of her to look at herself with a smile

Emotional agility refers to analyzing your own emotions and learning from them. It’s the art of using your feelings to shape your values to what is important for you. 

However, it is to note that this concept isn’t about chasing after happiness to such an extent that it becomes toxic. Instead, it is an alternative to seeking happiness, which seems to be the path everybody’s walking. 

It’s a novice concept introduced back in 2013 in a publication in the Harvard Business Review. On the surface, it is essentially a set of self-help techniques, but the implications are far more significant. 

What’s interesting is that it doesn’t just focus on employees but also on leaders in corporations.

Why Emotional Agility?

Emotional agility uses the very emotions we have to evaluate ourselves. It’s a much better approach than seeking happiness in every aspect of life. 

When we have fixed beliefs regarding our good or bad emotions, we can be judgmental and inconsiderate. We feel these negative emotions not only towards others but ourselves as well. 

Thus, unfortunately, we become less resilient when we face challenges in life. This means while we keep feeling stuck in life, yet do nothing to overcome it.

However, people who have emotional agility easily navigate through their feelings and emotions with compassion and curiosity. The best part of it is they do it without holding onto our past judgment and beliefs. 

Often, we’re so out of touch with our emotions that we don’t even know if the thing we’re chasing would even make us happy in the first place. 

With Emotional Agility, you can make your decisions with clarity instead of being constrained negatively by emotion. Moreover, it prevents you from getting trapped by any emotion. Instead, you are easily able to thrive despite feeling stuck in a rut. 

Emotional agility has been found to reduce stress and anxiety and lead to better performance in the workplace. It can be just as functional for a leader as it can for a clerk.

It aims to improve psychological performance at work, which is often ignored. For example, most organizations don’t care if you feel positive coming in to work every day. Instead, they care about you delivering the work. 

When psychological performance improves, work performance improves automatically. You know how they say happy wife, happy life, well, in organizations, it’s more like happy workers, more success. 

How to Calm Anxiety With Emotional Agility?

Feeling stuck in life causes anxiety and panic attacks, which affect all levels of the traditional corporate hierarchy. 

From leaders to workers, anxiety levels can run very high at times, let alone when a pandemic is raging on. 

So how to calm anxiety and perform better at work, including working at home?

Distinguish Between Thoughts and Emotions

Being emotionally agile asks for labeling what an emotion is and what is just a thought. 

Your thoughts are basically your inner voice. While on the other hand, emotions are your physiological reactions to oneself, others, and the entire world. 

However, we often confuse the two. Thus labeling them can help you see them more objectively. 

In addition, it allows you to distinguish between what thoughts are meaningful and which are, well, just thoughts.

Change Your Perspective

Looking at your hurdles from an outsider’s point of view can help you stop feeling stuck in life. 

Not only this, but it can easily distance you from sadness, anxiety, stress, and frustration in such a manner that you will be able to control your reactions. 

In order to do this, try shifting your perspective by looking for contradictions. 

For example, if you are feeling stuck in a rut, think about if you did something to cause it. After that, think about what advice or suggestion you would give if you were a family member or someone just looking at the situation. 

With emotional agility, you can easily calm your anxiety by looking at the flip side. 

Accept Your Emotions

Denial of feelings when in a professional setting will only elevate your anxiety. Putting your thoughts and emotions on the backburner is unhealthy. Acting on every idea isn’t feasible either. 

It will help if you accept your emotions in order to evaluate them. 

For example, tell yourself it’s ok to feel angry about a non-cooperating co-worker or a discouraging manager. It’s not about whether an emotion is justified or not; simply acknowledge that it’s there and feel it. 

Let Your Values Guide You

Emotional agility calls for your emotions to guide your values and your values to guide your emotions. The values create a bridge between feelings and actions that fundamentally improves interaction.

Obviously, that means your values should ideally be strong. But that’s not really of that importance here. The question is not whether you have very strong values or not; the question is simply subjecting your actions to the values, whatever they may be. 

Emotions can be random and too intense at times. If you just go by those emotions, your actions can be extreme and unproductive. However, you’re more likely to see positive results when you align your actions with your values. 

Values are more rigid than emotions. So emotional agility basically helps connect emotions with your actions, balancing them with values. That whole process can alleviate work-related anxiety, or really any kind of anxiety. 

There has been some research about emotional regulation and anxiety disorders, which essentially support the concept of emotional agility. 

Other Ways to Calm Anxiety

Emotional agility may seem easy but takes some psychological effort. However, there are other simpler ways to deal with anxiety as well:

Take a Break

If the news or social media is making you anxious, take a break from it. 

A man outside sitting on a mountain looking out at the landscape

Set a couple of hours during the day when you don’t watch the news or access your social media. 

Yes, it’s important to stay informed, especially during such unprecedented times, but you need to give yourself a break too. 

Don’t Give Up on Relations

One of the biggest reasons for feeling anxious during pandemic times is that you cannot socialize. 

However, a 2007 study found that as humans, we love to socialize, and when we receive social support, it can actually help reduce our anxiety and stress. 

Therefore, just because you can’t meet a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker personally, don’t give up on your relationships. You can still talk to them on the phone or do a video call. 

But, don’t just talk to them. Try engaging in virtual activities as well, like playing games or streaming shows together. Several applications let you do it for free. 

Get Exercise

As shocking as this may sound, exercise has been found to be a practical option for the treatment of clinical anxiety. 

Who says it can’t help with your work-related anxiety or just general anxiousness about the world situation right now?

You can work out at home, go to a nearby park, or just run on the street while taking necessary safety precautions. In fact, there are several youtube channels that you can follow along for workouts easily. 

Meditation is the Key

Without a doubt, meditation is one of the ideal ways to have emotional agility and stop feeling stuck in life. 

According to the 2011 research published in Clinical Psychology Review, mindfulness practices have positive physical and psychological outcomes. Luckily, there are several ways you can practice mindfulness at home without paying someone for it. 

Wrap Up

Emotional agility was devised as a concept to improve workplace performance, but if you look closely, it can be beneficial in other aspects of life too. 

For example, if you know how to calm anxiety with tools that work for you, you’re better at alleviating anxiety and feeling better. 

With many of us spending time indoors, not knowing much about the outside world, it’s natural for stress and anxiety levels to be high. 

However, we should use every tool or method to help ourselves feel good and make others feel better.

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