Mental Health//

How Thriving Mind Has Changed My — and My Grandparents’ — Approach to Stress Management

“I learned that my previous way of handling stress was actually feeding it.”

Photo courtesy of Thainá Saba Penha
Photo courtesy of Thainá Saba Penha

Committed to the mental resilience of its people, Accenture partnered with Thrive Global to create Thriving Mind, a cutting-edge mental well-being experience based on Stanford Medicine’s renowned Precision Health approach. In this five-part series, Accenture Mental Health and Well-being “Role Models” from around the globe open up about how they prioritize their well-being, and how Thriving Mind has improved their approach to managing stress.

Thrive Global: What are the things that stress you out?

Thainá Saba Penha: Negativity, anxiety, and pressure — external or internal. When someone shares negativity or their anxiety with me, I feel it strongly, and feel like I must go above and beyond to do something to help. When I was in college and my parents paid my tuition, I felt like I had to be the best student in my class, even though my parents never asked that of me. I have a hard time saying no to others due to my own internal expectations, and that can be emotionally exhausting.  

TG: What are the signs that you’re starting to reach your breaking point?

TSP: When I start to lose sleep or ruminate over the situation(s). 

TG: What steps do you take to recharge your mental batteries?

TSP: I set some time aside to meditate, or to partake in my passions, like reading, journaling, or baking. It doesn’t matter if I’m reading a self-help book, a romance novel, or listening to a bedtime story; it doesn’t matter if I’m expressing my feelings through words or writing down “dad jokes”; it doesn’t matter if my croissants taste like baguettes — what matters is that I’m giving time to myself. 

TG: What did you learn about yourself and your response to stress from the Thriving Mind experience?

TSP: I learned that my previous way of handling stress was actually feeding it. I thought spending more time focusing on my stressors was better, because I thought it would get the stressor out of the way quicker. My sleeping habits were poor or absent, I had frequent tummy aches, and I wouldn’t practice self-compassion. 

TG: How has Thriving Mind changed your approach to managing stress? 

TSP: Thanks to Thriving Mind, I learned that stress can be harnessed for good. I learned that if I take Microsteps and look on the bright side, I might discover strengths within my so called weaknesses. I now know that it’s actually better if I take a break, and that it’s OK to say “no” to things so I can take that time to connect with myself. It’s a long journey, but I’m more self-aware now.

TG: Have you shared what you’ve learned from Thriving Mind with anyone else? If so, who?

TSP: During the first four months of the pandemic, I stayed at my grandparents’ house to help out: My grandma, an elementary school teacher who previously didn’t know how to turn on a computer, had to adapt to online classes, and my grandpa, who gets dialysis treatment three times a week, got COVID-19. My grandma was very scared and stressed in the beginning, her mind filled with negative thoughts on the future of her teaching career. And my grandpa didn’t like being isolated from his dialysis friends, having to get treatment in a room where the T.V. was broken. He felt unworthy and alone. In hopes of getting them out of their negative thought patterns, I presented the Microsteps I learned (and was also practicing myself) in the Thriving Mind course. Grandma learned to meditate. She came up with a mantra to say when she forgets how to share her screen. 

Sign up to receive the Thriving Mind resource kit here

For more on the importance of mental well-being in the workplace, check out this conversation between Thrive Global’s Arianna Huffington and Accenture’s Chief Leadership and Human Resources Office Ellyn Shook. 

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    People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

    - MARCUS AURELIUS

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