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« 11. Develop emotional intelligence: Mindful eating »

Written by Rachel Green, Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited user of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and internationally recognised Emotional Intelligence Coach.

There are many different activities adults can engage in to develop their emotional intelligence and practising mindfulness is one of them.

Most of us have not grown up in emotionally intelligent societies, schools or families and thus our potential emotional intelligence has seldom developed to its fullest. 

The emotional intelligence activities for adults covered here will help you develop the fifth emotional intelligence competency on the Genos emotional intelligence model: Emotional self-management.

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How good are you at managing your emotions? 

  • Can you manage all your emotions or just some?
  • Can you quickly move through difficult or negative emotions or do you become stuck in them?
  • Can you manage your emotion equally well across a wide range of situations and with a wide range of people?
  • Can you stay calm in emotionally charged situations?

These are the types of skills that someone with high emotional intelligence displays in this area.

Emotional intelligence activity: Self-calm with mindful eating

One aspect of managing your own emotions is to be able to calm yourself down when you have become upset, angry, agitated, resentful, anxious or frustrated.

One self-calming technique is to practise mindfulness meditation.

There is increasing brain research proving that meditation can produce positive changes in the brain and reduce emotions such as tension, anger, anxiety, stress and depression.

Mindfulness meditation is about developing the ability to pay attention, deliberately, in the present moment, non judgementally.

We all find time to eat, so eating with mindfulness can be easy to incorporate into our daily lives.

If you ate mindfully, you'd focus on all the sensations associated with each of the stages involved in eating: the smell, taste, touch, sound and sight.

  • For example, you'd eat slowly and focus on the smell of the food, notice the texture of the food, linger on the taste of the food, and notice any sounds that you or the food make.
  • You could also pay attention to what you are doing with your knife, fork or spoon, the movement of your arm and hand as you bring food to your mouth and then the movement of your lips, tongue and cheeks as you eat and swallow.
  • You could also notice your saliva and how this changes when you first see your food, as you bring the food up to the front of your lips, as the food enters your mouth, as you start to chew, as you swallow and then after swallowing.
  • By paying attention to eating in this mindful way emotions can calm down and distracting thoughts ease.

Here is a video of a guided meditation on mindful eating for you to follow. You will need a sultana in your hand to start with.

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