May is Mental Health Awareness Month—a time to fight the stigma against mental illness, practice activities that support our well-being, and educate ourselves on what “mental health” really means. In observance of this national movement, I want to highlight the ways DMC supports our team’s mental health through various resources, such as our mentorship program, an employee assistance program, and fun events provided by our activity fund.
What makes DMC such a positive place to work, however, is the close-knit community we foster here. This spring, we celebrated our DMC community with personal touches to brighten our coworkers’ day, gifts for our administrative professionals, awards for extra efforts, and a virtual yoga and mindfulness event.
Lauren’s Daily Dose
My favorite thing to do when working remotely is sprinkling joy whenever I can. As one of seven kids, my family's dry-erase board was essential in keeping track of our busy schedules. It quickly became a platform for me to share daily inspirational quotes, which I called “Lauren’s Daily Dose”—LDD for short. I’ve always loved giving negative or mundane phrases a positive alternative and challenging people’s perspectives. LDD grew from that whiteboard to a family group text and now, I’ve brought LDD to DMC.
Here are a few examples of Lauren's Daily Dose:
- “If you are stuck looking down, you will forget which way is up.”
- “Life may give you lemons, but you had to look for sugar to make lemonade. Be proud of what you accomplished this week even if it’s adding a little sugar!”
- “You do not need permission to chase your dreams! Validation is for parking.”
- “Change is hard but if you were not willing to change, you'd still be wearing diapers driving a Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.”
These quotes help me connect with my team through empowerment, joy, and a couple of giggles. Connection is something I value when fostering a positive work environment. If I can empower just one coworker to have a better day with a silly saying, then I’ve accomplished something. During Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to find more ways to make my coworkers smile.
Internal Operations Team Appreciation Gifts
April 21st is Administrative Professionals Day, which was the perfect time to show appreciation for DMC's Internal Operations (IO) team. This past year, they worked extremely hard and still found time to welcome me and make my transition to the team extremely smooth. Being one of the newest additions, this was my chance to bring a little LDD to the entire IO team.
I organized a surprise gift for the Internal Operations team, with a focus on making every item impactful. It was important that every member of the team felt the quintessential LDD sprinkle of joy. I put together a spa care package, complete with a fun-filled card to explain each part of the gift. This was my LDD time to shine:
Hello Internal Operations!
Wednesday, April 21st is Administrative Appreciation Day and this admin wanted to flip the script and show how much she appreciates you!
- Sweet kettle popcorn because you’re sweet when I pop up with a question!
- A candle because you make the day bright!
- Hand lotion because you make everything run smooth!
- Head scratcher because you never leave me scratching my head!
- Back scratcher because you always have my back!
- Lip balm because you are the balm... like da bomb!
- A stress ball because you never stress me out!
- An eye mask because eye know I can count on you!
- Chocolate because chocolate… am I right?
Thanks for all you do!
Working remotely can feel monotonous and breaking up the work week with a care package did exactly what I intended. It sprinkled joy and reminded people how much I, and the rest of DMC, value everything they do!
Connecting Mind, Body & Soul through Yoga
Mental health is more than taking care of your mind—it includes your body too! There is a bi-weekly meeting that all the internal teams attend to discuss company initiatives and potential solutions to issues that DMCers bring up. To encourage a healthy mental space, especially since it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, I asked if we could bring a guest speaker to our meeting. My manager was completely supportive of the idea. So, at the meeting, we didn’t just talk about mental health—we did a yoga class!
An important part of maintaining mental health stems from how we treat our bodies. Our guest speaker, Dr. Sara Siddiqui, is a licensed chiropractor and yoga instructor. For our session, she created a flow that stimulated our bodies and targeted places that tend told hold stress for many office workers. I have been seeking chiropractic care for five years and I loved connecting Dr. Sara with my team.
Yoga Tips for Office Workers
Office and remote employees tend to hold tension in their sitz bones, mid-back, and neck/shoulders. Dr. Sara made our mental wheels turn when she said:
“Sitting most of the day creates a break in blood flow and our hips become our main support. Therefore, you may think you are not doing anything, but your hip flexors are working overtime. The same can be said about holding tension in the neck. As a culture, we are very forward facing—always working on a phone or computer. This downward motion creates pressure on muscles that are not naturally meant to support the full weight of our heads. In short, we are not using the full capabilities of our bodies, and this stress affects both physical function and mental health.”
She created a flow targeting these problem areas and cultivated a safe space to be fully present. Her flow focused on the three major areas: forward head posture, stretches to fix a neck hump, and stretching it out. Like most yoga flows, she had us start in a grounded position. We began in child’s pose and quickly moved to open our hips and engage our core through downward dog, cat-cow, and baby cobra. Fun fact: did you know that having a weak core encourages a forward-leaning posture and strains your back? Yes, sometimes back pain is because your core is not engaged.
After the relaxing start, she pushed us to do further core work with a nice forearm plank finisher. It was great to have a live speaker teach us why our bodies act a certain way, discuss the reasons for tightness in particular areas, and provide us with alternate movements to better suit our needs. If you're interested in learning more about chiropractic care, Dr. Sara gave us her staff referral, which includes a free initial exam.
I asked a few of my teammates what they thought of the experience:
“We set up a mini yoga studio at the office so we could step into a sunny cheerful room for an hour to relax!” - Mary Doctor
“Doing yoga with our little group in the office was so nice to move and relax with the company of others.” - Izzy Rankin
In addition to celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month through gifts and yoga, we wanted to highlight an organization that supports our greater community’s mental health. We chose Chicago Adventure Therapy because they provide services to underserved youth in Chicago like kayaking, orienteering, cycling, and rock climbing. These activities help teach effective social skills, encourage a sense of possibility, and foster personal empowerment. DMC matches charitable donations, so I encouraged my IO teammates to make a donation.
Mental health is important to the well-being and growth of our employees. I hope that our Mental Health Awareness Month efforts empowered our teams to take the breaks they need and foster good mental health.
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