May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Improving Your Emotional Intelligence

How social distancing offers a rare opportunity to develop these critical skills

Daily life, including getting an education, doesn’t look the way it did just a few months ago. But the closing of campuses and the imposing of stay-at-home orders may actually give us a chance to learn more about something else. Ourselves.

We tend to think of success in college and later life as a function of scholastic achievement. Research has shown, though, that there are other factors that can be more important than raw intelligence. One such set of skills is known collectively as emotional intelligence. Experts say that emotional intelligence can be nurtured and strengthened throughout our lives. However, it is often difficult to find time for self-reflection. Until now.

Introspection, typically thought to be the domain of philosophers and poets, is more readily available during this period of social distancing. The knowledge gained will pay dividends in the form of better health, closer relationships, and improved academic performance.

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, the book that first brought the concept to mainstream culture, describes it as learning to recognize and accurately label your emotions, and understanding how they make you feel, think and act. An important first step is becoming more aware of your emotional reactions to stress, perhaps no more vital than during this worldwide pandemic. Another crucial skill is the ability to talk about your feelings. This can be done with close friends, family members, or with a counselor or other mental health professional.

If you would like help increasing your emotional intelligence, contact the Santa Fe College Counseling Center. We are currently offering our services remotely via video conference or by phone. To schedule a session, call (352) 395-5508 or e-mail

To assess your current level of emotional intelligence, take the E.I. Quiz at