Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria


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International Self-Care Day is July 24th: How to Make Time for Self-Care with a Busy Schedule

Pilates exerciseJuly 24th is International Self-Care Day. It’s the perfect time for all of us to pause and remember just how important self-care is. Although it may seem impossible to take time out of our busy days, it’s important for employers to encourage employees to fit self-care into their schedules. Work-life initiatives can really make a big difference in the workplace. According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian worker is away from work for the equivalent of almost two weeks in a year. Casual absences (not requiring a doctor’s note) account for 80% of lost days for most businesses. Encouraging and promoting a healthy work-life balance is not only good for your employees, it’s good for business.

What is International Self-Care Day?
The International Self-Care Day (ISD) worldwide campaign objective is to celebrate the importance of self-care and to encourage the general public to practice responsible self-care. Every year ISD is observed on July 24 to serve as a reminder that the benefits of self-care are lifelong, experienced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What is self-care?
The International Self-Care Foundation has developed a framework called Seven Pillars of Self-Care.

Pillar 1 – Health Literacy: It’s important to learn about our health so that we can make informed decisions on what we need for self-care.

Pillar 2 – Self-Awareness of Physical and Mental Condition: We need to be self-aware about the state of our physical and mental health. The best way to do this is to regularly visit your doctor or health practitioner and be honest about how you’re feeling physically and mentally.

Pillar 3 – Physical Activities: Regular physical activity is vitally important for self-care. It doesn’t have to involve intense or extreme activities. Walking, cycling, yoga, swimming… they can all significantly improve your health, fitness and mood.

Pillar 4 – Healthy Eating: Eating a nutritious, balanced diet is always essential. Take the time to eat; eat and chew slowly.

Pillar 5-Risk Avoidance or Mitigation: A few important tips are – avoid smoking, limit alcohol intake and use sunscreen daily. Take Vitamin D, especially for us Canadians who experience less sunshine and relatively short summers than those living closer to the equator.

Pillar 6- Good Hygiene: While most of us practice good hygiene, it’s still important to note that washing your hands well and often is one of the most important things we can do.

Pillar 7-Rational and Responsible Use of Products, Services, Diagnostics and Medicines:  Avail yourself of medical help when necessary. If you’ve been prescribed medication, take it as directed. If alternative medicine is your thing, use it.

Why self-care is so important for employees?

  • Boosts morale
  • Increases productivity
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Improves mental and physical health
  • Decreases stress

Tips on how employers can encourage employees to make time for self-care

  • Help employees set and maintain personal boundaries
  • Help your employees set achievable goals
  • If you schedule meetings during the lunch hour, provide a healthy meal
  • Encourage employees to take intermittent self-care breaks – a walk at lunch time, a social break with a co-worker
  • Promote outside-of-work activities
  • Allow for flexible schedules

Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to give of yourself to others.

July 24th is right around the corner. Is your company promoting self-care in your workplace? Now’s a great time to begin a self-care initiative.


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5 Ways To Improve Wellness And Increase Productivity In Your Workplace

161-photo-f520ccf7858c9d71169d64a0c57b40c5Wellness programs are linked to increased productivity, a reduction of long-term health care costs and less absenteeism.  In fact, it has been shown that a 28% reduction in sick leave, 26% lower heath costs and 30% lower compensation and disability costs are directly linked to wellness programs in Canada.

The facts are undeniable, and the good news is that even if you feel your organization does not have the financial or staffing resources to implement a wellness program, there are many small steps you can take to promote wellness at work that do not include elaborate or costly investments. I have outlined below five ways to help you bring your company closer to wellness.

  1. Encourage Exercise.
    Implement and promote a lunch hour walking club and offer incentives for employees who participate. Encourage the entire office to use the stairs or suggest a “bike to work” week. You also might offer discounts or partially subsidize memberships to a local gym

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You Are What You Eat

aspiria healthy eatingFor many of us, we associate eating with weight and body image, but supplying our body with the right types of food is so much more than that! Eating a balanced diet, full of the necessary vitamins and nutrients that your body needs, will help prevent disease, stay energized, and improve your mood.

Unfortunately, a majority of the population is not fueling their bodies with the right foods, instead opting for unhealthy, (albeit tasty or satisfying) substitutes. And like the old saying goes, you are what you eat! What does this mean exactly? Your body, (mood included) is a direct reflection of what you’re putting into it.

This week, I would like to focus on what simple things you can change about your diet to improve your body, mind and spirit.

What to eliminate:

  • Foods high in fat
    Fatty foods are detrimental to your weight, and to your overall health. High-fat diets increase risk for heart disease and stroke, as the saturated and trans fats act as roadblocks in your arteries. Cutting out fatty foods can lead to more productivity and energy.
  • Sugar
    The more sugar you eat, the more you want! The addictive ingredient has been associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease and mood. High-sugar foods are basically empty calories, providing your body with little to no benefits.

What to increase:

  • Water
    Hydrating your body is one of the most important tasks of the day. Dehydration leads to fatigue, loss of focus, dry skin, and so much more.
  • Whole Foods
    Shift your focus from processed foods (containing ingredients that you do not recognize) to whole foods, like natural protein, fruits and vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. These foods contain more nutrients such as thiamin (B1), which has been associated with control of mood, and folate and zinc (supplements of these nutrients have been shown to improve the mood of people with depression in a small number of studies).

If you can work towards these goals, your body will thank you! Remember, while I brought up the saying “you are what you eat”, keep in mind that “everything in moderation” is applicable as well. Understand the signs your body is giving you and adjust your diet accordingly. You may be already aware of what you need to change about your diet in order to feel better and healthy. But sometimes, we all need a gentle reminder!

Have you seen improvements in your productivity and mood by making changes in your diet? Share your experiences in the comments.

Happy eating!