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?
Sumreen Ahmad: By nature, I am driven to accomplish a lot. I feel a high sense of responsibility to make sure that every last detail is attended to. More often than not, all the little details start to add up and I get to the point where I can no longer prioritize.
TG: What are the signs that you’re starting to reach your breaking point?
SA: It feels like I’m running out of space in my brain, like I’m losing control over my time, my emotions, and my life.
TG: What steps do you take to recharge your mental batteries?
SA: I learned at a very young age that making to-do lists helps me reframe and prioritize the “big rocks” from the small stuff. I use a visualization exercise where I imagine a plate that has run out of space. It helps me determine what needs to come off my plate (a conscious choice) before something falls off my plate (a reactive state).
TG: What did you learn about your response to stress from the Thriving Mind experience, and what biotype did you most identify with?
SA: Although I’ve generally had self-awareness of my emotional response to triggering situations, Thriving Mind helped give me the language and the framing to better understand what was going on. The experience validated what I was feeling, which is an important step in reclaiming control over my thoughts and emotions.
I fall into the category of Anxious Avoidance, where my immediate reaction to feeling overwhelmed is to retreat — almost to the point of complete isolation — as a way of protecting myself. This also stems from being an empath and needing to please others at the expense of myself, which feeds into feeling more overwhelmed. The isolation allows me the time and personal space to reclaim control and realign my priorities — void of other people’s influence — either by writing, taking a digital detox to be alone with my thoughts, or being outside in nature to take in some much-needed perspective.
TG: How has Thriving Mind changed your approach to managing stress?
SA: Thriving Mind has shown me how I can recharge in the immediate moment, and how I can start to change my behaviors for long-term success. I’ve also become a stronger advocate for the recharge strategies that I took for granted in the past — like sleep, breathing exercises, and taking long walks. These strategies are incredibly important as the stressors are only increasing (amidst COVID, homeschooling, and the current job and economic climate), and I’ve had to implement these techniques as a way to counter the sense of helplessness and overwhelm I feel.
TG: Have there been any unexpected benefits of the Thriving Mind program? If so, what?
SA: The course has been incredibly helpful in parenting, particularly with teenagers whose brains are still developing and are not always able to step back and process situations in a way that makes sense (in the moment!). Since my kids have been home due to the pandemic, I’ve incorporated them into my work life by inviting them to sit through the course, discuss their own biotypes, and use the Thriving Mind framework to help when their stressors kick in. I’m so grateful to have these proactive tools for them early in life.
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.