6.5. How to Deal with Emotions

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Your emotional, physical and social health state will have a significant impact on the quality of the attention and care offered to your care-receiver.

Therefore it is vital that you develop and work on competences related to EI, not only addressed at caregiving but also at your self-care (this point is further explained in the following modules).

When taking care of one person, you are constantly challenged by experiencing different emotions; arising from your relationship with the cared person and other caregivers that might be sharing this responsibility with you.

Either the cared person or the other caregivers can have different perspectives from you, and, thus, it could provoke a misunderstood or a sense of underestimation. In this situation, it is fundamental to be able to manage your emotions and gain self‐confidence.

EI is involved in the good management of emotions; likewise it provides guidelines for coping with stress and for emotional self-regulation, which are necessary to react positively before difficult situations.

Hence, it is important that you develop EI in order to have “tools” for emotional management in order to foster your well-being and to face challenges in your daily live. Moreover, EI can provide you with some factors that can help you improve your quality of life and transform the caregiving situation into a satisfying life experience

Emotionally intelligent caregivers know how to manage their emotions so that they can keep their attention and keep thinking clearly even when facing a critical situation. Anxiety reduces the capability to think and provide a rational response; when you are experiencing fear or excessive stress, it prevents you from making decisions and this can have negative consequences on the quality of your work (Ibarrola, n.d.).

Research has shown that in order to deal with difficult and complex situations you need to boost the following competences:

Being flexible and adaptable
You must accept that things may not be as you expect them to be, and you should be prepared for that, in this way, you can come up with creative and innovative solutions.
Not victimizing yourself
When you victimize yourself, you lose the potential for changing the reality.
Being hopeful and positive
It is important to trust that things will get better and to look positively to the circumstances that we are going through.
(Ibarrola, n.d.)

Thus, which are the characteristics of an emotionally intelligent person? According to Ibarrola, these are the characteristics you should work on:

   Acknowledgement of your own feelings and emotions
   Ability of expressing feelings and emotions
   Ability of controlling feelings and emotions
   Ability to take appropriate decisions
   Development of motivation, hope and interest
   Knowledge about giving and receiving
   Consolidated set of values
   Ability to overcome difficulties and challenges
   Integrate polarities: such as the cognitive sphere and the emotional one or duties and rights
(Ibarrola, n.d.)

In order to help you dealing with these situations, there are some advices that can provide you with guidelines to manage your emotions:

1. Satisfy your needs
Human beings have needs (hunger, sleep, etc.) and when these needs are not fulfilled, we are more emotional and sensitive. Thus, in order to be as emotionally balanced as possible it is very important to ensure that our needs are satisfied. When we feel satisfied, we feel that our lives have a purpose and meaning. If we do not feel satisfied, we tend to think that our lives have no sense and we are exposed to emotional problems.
2. Think rationally
Emotions drive you to act blindly, sometimes, in an irrational way. Therefore, it is important to develop the ability of thinking objectively when feeling emotional, so that you are able to redirect and guide your emotions.
3. Importance of breathing
It is believed that emotions are originated in our mind, while the truth is that many of your emotions are physical responses to a given situation. In consequence, it is important to pay attention to physical changes, which are induced by our breathing. Therefore, it is important to find a moment for breathing and trying to calm everything down.
4. Observe how other people manage their emotions effectively
You can learn a lot by analysing how other people manage their own emotions. However, it is important to learn from the appropriate people, so let’s find a good role model for you!
5. Change your mood
You can control your moods, for instance if you are feeling bored of watching the same boring TV shows, changing your activity and going for a walk will definitely change your mood and will cheer you up.
6. Work on discovering yourself
It is vital to know your own attitudes and emotional changes. Controlling your emotions is not about hiding them, but it is just the opposite. You have to allow yourself to feel what you are feeling in each moment, and analyse the cause of each feeling.
7. Control your emotions by looking forward
Emotions are very intense, and they tend to fool us by making us believe that now is all that matters. This may lead us to say or do things that we will regret afterwards. Sometimes when we are really angry or anxious, we can even forget about the future. Therefore, it is important to think things twice and calm down a little bit before doing anything.
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