How Thriving Mind Taught Me to Spot My Signs of Overstress

“I now know what to look out for, and I’m learning more about managing my daily stress.”

Photo courtesy of Jagoda Ciepla
Photo courtesy of Jagoda Ciepla

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?

Jagoda Ciepla: When plans suddenly change and things don’t go as expected. I tend to organize things and have a checklist of tasks that should be done by a certain point in time, and whenever something is not completed, I feel like I’m failing. 

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

JC: When I start to avoid the activity that’s not going as planned, by either overloading myself with additional activities, or freezing and avoiding any action altogether. I tend to isolate myself from others: I’ll work on my own, reschedule meetings, skip meet-ups with friends, or even ignore calls and texts from people I care about. 

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

JC: Visualizing and drawing the challenge on a blank page and splitting it into manageable chunks. It’s a good technique to overcome my negative bias reaction. Another simple in-the-moment trick I use is to list things that are already done and immediately cross them off. This way, I end up with a list of accomplishments that motivates me and allows me to focus on what’s ahead.

TG: How did the Thriving Mind experience improve your mental well-being?

JC: Thriving Mind is a great first step to begin setting aside time for mental self-care. After finishing the content, I sat down and scheduled time on the calendar to take care of my mental well-being — everything from a few minutes to breathe, to setting regular checkpoints to see how I am feeling.  I won’t pretend that I now spend hours every week on my mental health, but having Thriving Mind notifications pop-up regularly ensures that I’m reminded of the importance of stress-management.

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

JC: The course helped me understand the small behaviors that are my personal signposts of overstress. Many of the signs are things I haven’t paid much attention to, or have learned to ignore, like overloading myself with tasks, or having a persistent attitude of “I can’t do it.” Going through the course helped me identify those behaviors, and now when they appear, I know it’s time to take a step back and recharge.

TG: What biotype did you most identify with? 

JC: When I was first going through the training, I recognized myself in biotype description after biotype description. I thought, “Wow, I must be really stressed if all of these apply.” It took me some time to distinguish between general feelings and real signs of overstress, but I can now see that my signs of overstress are the Negative Bias and Anxious Avoidance biotypes. Things that don’t go according to plan are immediately classified by my brain as a failure, and I tend to see even the smallest “failures” as proof that I can’t achieve bigger goals. I avoid things I think I might fail at. Sometimes I avoid people, sometimes I subtly evade questions (especially the “How is it going?” type), or keep quiet in conversations. These behaviors have always triggered a “something’s wrong” feeling, but I wasn’t able to place what it was exactly, so I’d ignore it. With the Thriving Mind training, I’ve learned to take these as signs of overstress and as a signal to relax and recharge.

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

JC: Before completing the Thriving Mind training, I mostly focused on managing stress in relation to specific situations — like an important presentation, or new circumstances that I suddenly need to handle. Thanks to the training, I shifted my focus to day-to-day stress responses that, in the long-term, can damage your body and your mental health. I now know what to look out for, and with Thriving Mind and Thrive Global support materials, I am learning more about managing my daily stress. 

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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