One of our core values is “We Are Customer-Focused” and this has made us pay more attention to our customers, to see how we can serve them better and make them happy. This is why we’ve had a series of webinars for our customers where we share valuable tips that can help them grow their business. 

We care about the mental health of our customers so we decided to have a special Grow My Business webinar for them where Gbemi Adekoya (Coach G) talked about “Protecting Your Mental Health In A Time Of Crisis.” You can view other Grow My Business Webinars here.

Gbemi Adekoya is a Nationally Certified Counselor with a Masters Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counselling & a Bachelors in Behavioural Science. 

Coach G used to work on National Suicide Prevention Helpline as a Crisis Counselor and her job was to be at the other end of the phone when someone was in a crisis and they called. Her main responsibility was to de-escalate the situation because when a person is in a crisis, they are not thinking, not because they don’t want to think but because of the way our brains work; when we are in a crisis, we go into what is known as Fight, Flight or Freeze mode. In all her years working as a crisis counsellor, she realized that when a person is in a crisis, knowing what to do can be a gamechanger for them. Preparedness before a crisis hits can make all the difference in how a person recovers from a crisis. 

Emotional Granularity

According to Northeastern University, emotional granularity is the ability to put feelings into words with a high degree of specificity and precision.

This is called the Emotions and The Feelings Wheel. We are capable of feeling all of these feelings, it is a wide spectrum of feelings; from fear to anger to joy and so on. It is also important to note that you not only have the capacity to feel all these feelings, you also have the permission to. There are no good or bad feelings, feelings are just your body’s way of experiencing what is going on in your mind. Your feelings are supposed to be felt. 

When in a crisis, our feelings can get jammed. This is usually because we are feeling a wider range of feelings, perhaps new ones that we haven’t felt before and we are feeling them more intensely. 

We all have mental frameworks which are like how life is structured in our minds. When something happens that’s beyond the scope of what we thought possible, our mental framework collapses.

For example, you are a business owner and you show up one day to work only to see that a fire has gutted everything down. Your mental framework can literally collapse because the event that happened exceeded your capacity of what you thought was possible. That is what a crisis is like. 

Let’s say you were never prepared for a crisis and you are currently in one, it means you are less likely going to be able to deal well than if you were prepared prior to the crisis. 

The Connection Between The Brain and Human Behaviour

If you are not prepared or not aware that you will have to deal with all of these feelings, you are very likely to fall apart for something that’s only a normal natural reaction just because you didn’t know, no one prepared you. If we become aware of what’s going on inside of us when we are in a crisis & before we fall apart or before we start to have physiological reactions to feelings and reactions, we can better handle them. Our brain controls our emotions. 

According to Dr Dan Siegel, the brain is divided into 2 parts: The Upstairs Brain and The Downstairs Brain

The Upstairs Brain develops as we grow, from our teenage years to adulthood. It controls our thinking, problem-solving, empathy, and other executive functions. 

The Downstairs Brain is what we are born with and it helps us carry out a lot of the seemingly lower tasks like breathing, it is also the feeling brain, it keeps us safe. Whenever we are in a crisis, it is this brain that goes into the fight, flight or freeze mode. 

Optimally, we want to be able to go upstairs more and stay there more; it is our learning brain where we solve problems. When we are in a crisis, we need to be able to think so that we can reach a solution. 

If you can learn to “calm” the downstairs brain down when it is activated (because of a crisis), you can make better choices, which means you can thrive even in a crisis because you can calm your emotions and feelings down. This is really because you have learnt what to do and you now know what’s going on in your brain. 

If you don’t learn this, you will struggle a lot because you will find yourself apologising a lot & being sorry for your actions and this is because you act & react a lot.

When I am in a crisis, what am I supposed to do?

You should think.

When we go to our upstairs brain, we are able to think and this doesn’t mean we don’t feel the feeling of anger, depression, sadness or frustration anymore; it only means we can now tame our downstairs brain and we know how to connect with our upstairs brain, we can now think of solutions.

One thing you can do to go upstairs that neuroscience shows is:

  • Label your emotions (Name It To Tame It)
    Science shows that when you feel a feeling, if you can get yourself to have the presence of mind to label that feeling, your brain starts to squirt neurotransmitters that calm you down, not just your brain, but the rest of your body. Being able to identify the feeling you are feeling and being able to say it, calms you down.

When you are in the upstairs brain, you should start thinking of coping skills. What your next steps should be. Coping skills should be like first aid for you. 

Calming yourself down will not solve the problem but it can definitely help you engage your brain to cope in a time of crisis. 

You should begin to explore options and involve goal-focused decision making. Goal focused decision making is you thinking of where you are going, what you want to achieve, which choice(s) will get you there and if any of your choices will not get you there, why are you making it?

When you are calm and have started exploring different options is when you can think of seeking professional help.

This article is not exhaustive and doesn’t contain all the valuable information Coach G shared during her webinar, we’d advise you to take time out to watch the full session on our YouTube page. Also, please subscribe to our channel so that you can always be aware when we release new content. 

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Published by Rotimi Okungbaye

Product marketer