Did you know that emotional intelligence and physical health are connected to each other? At Agora International School Barcelona we'll tell you why.
Has it ever happened to you that when you are sad or angry you don’t feel like exercising as much as when you are happy? Or that, on the contrary, doing sport when you’ve had a misunderstanding with someone or you’re having a bad day helps you to feel more at ease with yourself and to be closer to inner peace?
This is a clear example of the connection between emotional intelligence and physical health. A clear example of how emotions influence our health and how we can use them to be healthier inside and out.
Now imagine if we taught this connection to children from the earliest levels of education, wouldn’t it be wonderful if they grew up knowing this secret? That’s precisely what we do at Agora International School Barcelona, where we are faithfully committed, both to the physical health of our pupils, and to their mental and emotional wellbeing.
“Emotional intelligence has beneficial effects on physical and mental health, and prevents drug use, toxic interpersonal relationships or poor academic performance of students”. These were the words of Pablo Fernández Berrocal, Professor of Psychology at the University of Malaga, during the II Eduemoción Meeting, held in 2018.
But what exactly do we mean by Emotional Intelligence? John Mayer and Peter Salovey long ago gave one of the most widely accepted definitions in the scientific community. For them, it is the ability to perceive, evaluate and accurately express emotion; to access and/or generate feelings when exercising thought; to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth”.
Emotional intelligence predicts health
And we’re not just saying that: this was one of the main conclusions of a study carried out a few years ago by researchers at the University of Malaga and published in The Spanish Journal of Psychology. Specifically, they said that emotional intelligence has the ability to predict mental, social and physical health in university students.
Specifically, the authors found that the lower the Emotional Attention of a group of university students analysed, the greater the anxious and depressive symptomatology and the lower the mental health.
Why do emotions damage physical health?
The Ministry of Health explains on its website the reasons why a negative emotional state can have harmful consequences for health. These are explained below:
- When emotions such as anger, rage or sadness are experienced intensely, behavioural changes occur that lead to the abandonment of healthy habits such as physical exercise or a social life. They are often replaced by a sedentary lifestyle, among others.
- Prolonged negative emotional reactions over time can trigger physiological mechanisms such as tension or elevated blood pressure.
- In addition, high negative emotionality can produce a cognitive bias: if you are nervous, you are more aware of threats and their consequences and this can lead to anxiety or panic.
In addition, they specify that positive emotions can also alter physical health. “Euphoria in very impulsive people can lead to binge eating, which can have a negative health consequence,” they say.
How to work on emotional intelligence?
Aware of the importance of developing good emotional intelligence, at Agora International School Barcelona we are very aware of it from the earliest educational levels, and we work on it in depth as the pupils progress through our school. In Infant Education, for example, we work on emotions through the everyday problems which arise in the classroom, or by taking advantage of any situation in which we can apply our knowledge.
This learning becomes even more profound in Primary and Secondary where, among other things, we promote this intelligence through physical exercise.
At home, we can also help your children to develop good emotional intelligence by following some of these guidelines:
- Neuropsychologist Álvaro Bilbao gives the main key to this: “The best way for your children to have good emotional intelligence is for you to first develop your emotional intelligence and then pass on this knowledge to them in the small actions of every day”.
- For Will Glennon, author of the book Children’s Emotional Intelligence, one of the most important things is for parents to be there for their children, supporting them and making them feel loved so that they become good people. In addition, he says that their emotional resources must be kept intact.
- Mauro Santos, director of NENOOS, also advocates applying limits and discipline firmly, but with sensitivity and empathy.
- The same author includes in his list the use of the natural consequences of acts or behaviours: “if you play with the ball with too much energy, it is possible that it will stay on the roof. If it stays on the roof, the natural thing is that until we can go up on the roof to get it, you can’t play with the ball.