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.
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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.