Do you see food as a reward and exercise as a punishment for what you ate?

If you do, remind yourself of the 80/20 rule, NO quick fixes.

Let’s focus on the bigger percentage, Food & Nutrition first. The effective management of food intake and nutrition are both key to health gain. Smart nutrition and food choices can help prevent disease. Isn’t prevention better than cure? Eating the right foods including fats, proteins, and carbohydrates is required. Maintaining key vitamins and minerals is also important to maintaining good health. It can help your body cope more successfully with an ongoing illness. It is important to focus on health gain because weight loss or weight gain will happen accordingly. Hence, let’s focus on making ourselves fit and not thin or slim. Food and nutrition are the way that we get fuel, providing energy for our bodies. Water is an important component of nutrition, not carbonated drinks or juices. Let’s discuss the healthiest way to eat by picking foods that are balanced for health gain.

Alarming numbers!

If you’re a parent, read this

11.5% of children below 18 years old were obese in Malaysia’s National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015, and 1.65 million school children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025.

A balanced healthy diet

A healthy diet includes a lot of real food. A sizeable portion of a healthy diet should consist of fruits and vegetables, especially ones that are red, orange, or dark green (rainbow colors). If you feel lost, think of this plate here. Whole grains, such as whole wheat and rice, should also play a part in your diet. For students, dairy products should be full-fat. Protein can consist of lean meat and poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, legumes, and soy products such as tofu, as well as unsalted seeds and nuts. 

A balanced healthy diet also involves avoiding salt which is used heavily in processed foods. Time to switch to an unprocessed diet. Fried food, solid fats, and trans fats found in margarine and processed foods can be harmful to heart health. Refined grains (white flour) and refined sugar (table sugar, high fructose corn syrup) are also bad for long-term health, especially in people with diabetes or a high risk of diabetes. 

However, in Malaysia, the overconsumption of sugar, which is the simplest form of carbohydrates is causing a high prevalence of overweight and obesity problems. According to World Health Organization, no more than 6 teaspoons (40g) of added sugar consumption daily. When you think you are eating healthy by having fruits, check how much ‘Assam’ and sugar is sprinkled on your guava. So all you have to do is follow these simple recommendations to work on healthy habits, small changes can make a huge impact.

Meal preparation 

It should offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. Your meals should be packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Real foods could be as simple as Moong Dal, Banana, mango, cucumber, jackfruit, moringa drumsticks, and coconut. (which are mostly available under RM10). They are packed with nutrients and are fresher and have traveled way less to reach us. It’s easily available and humans tend to not value something easily available. Blue Berries picked up in Europe reaching you after 2 months is less than 50% in nutrition. So, next, when you are preparing a meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, you can plan and refrigerate fruits, vegetables, and even nuts as a healthy snack option. Remember to eat local, not low cal (calories) 

Use herbs and spices

Pack your food with a good number of herbs and spices. Learn to cook with your family with onions, garlic, ginger, black pepper, curry, turmeric, and all the nice spices you can think of. The special ability of spices is to fight infections which will ultimately help you keep those diseases at bay. 

Take care of your gut health

Did you know that 80% of our health gain is located in our digestive system? Imagine, in that case, how important it is to keep a healthy gut. When your gut is healthy, you have a large number of probiotics thriving in there. And these probiotics are the good bacteria that you get from whole and fermented foods (Dosa, Idli, Tempeh), yogurt, kefir, or in the form of prebiotic and probiotic supplements. Gut health helps you with your brain health. 


80% food AND 20% Exercise not or! Exercising is not only a great way to get in shape, but it also improves our immunity, enhances the quality of sleep, and makes our body fit. If you are too busy or have no time at hand, take out just 15 minutes of your day and have a quick exercise session. But please do not give yourself excuses for not exercising. Exercise should not be a punishment for whatever you have eaten. Go for a walk, Do that yoga, dance! Do anything you like but please exercise, and challenge your body. It helps remove toxins and keeps you energetic and will contribute to disseminating proteins from your food intake.

In summary, we must practice the recommendations of healthy eating by controlling our portions and even remind our family and friends too. Parents play a key role in making healthier food choices for their family members. Choose foods and meals that are low in sugar, salt, fats, and oil. Instead opt for more local fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Remember healthy eating for health gain isn’t just reducing or cutting out any single food or nutrient. Healthy eating is a package. There are many high-quality, free guidelines available on www. for healthy eating plans that give more details on portion size, total calorie consumption, what to eat more of, and what to eat less of to get healthy and stay that way.

Remember 80%: Food & Nutrition 


20%: Exercise … No quick fixes

Did you know? 

A Health Ministry survey shows that 40% of Malaysian women who had anemia were of Indian ethnicity, with Dr. Lee saying this could be because there were more vegetarians in that community. Hence, those who are at risk of anemia are advised to avoid coffee and caffeine at mealtimes and wait at least one hour after a meal before consumption. Still not sure where to start? Set an appointment with a dietitian. 


Written by :

Drona Dewi 

CEO & Founder of Drona Wellness

 Certified Mental Health Response Instructor


Disclaimer: The information is provided by Drona Dewi, a mental fitness coach who is from a biotechnology background, and a lifestyle researcher. Certified mental health first aider by Malaysian Mental Health Association and Certified Mental health response Instructor by Mental health Management, Australia. The information is NOT intended to be and should be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional medical advice.



Helping You Make Sense of Psychotherapy: Why It Matters, What It’s About, and What It Can Do For You

Not many know what psychotherapy is and what it can do. Yet psychotherapy has the potential to result in positive, detectable changes in brain structure and function that make for better mental health [1]. It is clear too that psychotherapy enhances our socio-emotional development which is necessary for us to thrive as individuals and as social creatures: due to a lack of a sense of safety, predictability, and responsiveness growing up, many of us may not have had the chance to actually learn to experience, express, and manage our emotions— and essentially grow up without support for emotional regulation [2].

Thankfully, psychotherapy can teach us how to regulate our emotions by getting us to verbally express our emotions and interpret them, and to logically reason through the thoughts that underlie those emotions (emotion and cognition come together to influence our behavior, learning, and decision-making) [3] . *For more information on emotions, read our guide to emotions.

Why it matters

Allow me to make yet another case for psychotherapy: Life can be challenging with the kinds of demands placed on us and roles we have to play, and even more so for people predisposed to developing mental health conditions. For these people, their lack of self-esteem puts them at risk [4] for all sorts of negative life outcomes such as depression, loneliness, addiction problems, dissatisfying friendships and romantic relationships and impaired academic and job performance, so much so that their quality of life deteriorates (and unfortunately, there is a significant relationship between having a poor quality of life and being at risk for suicide [5] ). Equally importantly, these people can be you and me at some point in our lives, depending on our risk factors for developing a mental health disorder…

What these people may need is a special kind of help we call psychotherapy (ta-da!) so that they can a) deal with their symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression with both more confidence and skill, which would inevitably give them a stronger sense of being in control of their life (one of the factors of psychological well-being according to Carol Ryff [6]), and b) function in their everyday roles as workers, students, and members of families and communities

That’s how important psychotherapy is— it benefits not just individuals but society at large. When people are too dysregulated, burnout, anxious or depressed to do work and interact to get along with others, society as a whole cannot function. 

And although not everyone will experience a mental health disorder, almost everyone will experience challenges to their psychological well-being, such as:

All of these challenges are threats to our psychological well-being [7]— all reasons to choose psychotherapy too.


What psychotherapy’s about

But what is psychotherapy? Psychotherapy, in fact, is talk therapy: the counselor/ clinical psychologist/psychiatrist engages in a dialogue with the client about the client’s problems and how to fix them (APA, 2020); it’s a process of engagement between two people—a collaborative process that involves both the therapist and the client in co-constructing solutions to concerns (Corey, 2012). 

Throughout this collaborative process, the therapist focuses on utilizing various theories of psychotherapy to guide them in understanding their clients & what they’re going through and in developing treatment plans to whatever ails them. Sometimes, these theories are called approaches. Therapists such as counselors, clinical psychologists, and certain psychiatrists use psychological and counseling theories and approaches in a structured manner based on their education, training, work experience, and personal preferences; and most therapists use more than one approach, tailoring their use of the approach to each client’s individual personality and the concerns presented by each client. 

Many specific approaches exist within psychotherapy, yet the main approaches can be described as follows: psychodynamic (includes psychoanalysis), humanistic (includes Rogerian/ person-centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, and existential therapy), cognitive (includes stress inoculation training, schema therapy), behavioral (such as conditioning, modeling, & systematic desensitization), cognitive-behavioral (includes CBT and REBT), postmodern [8] (solution-focused therapy, narrative therapy, reality therapy), and third-wave mindfulness (ACT, DBT, MBCT) approaches to therapy. As such, you’ll find that different therapists carry out therapy sessions differently, based on the combination of approaches they prefer.

Though what actually happens during psychotherapy, you wonder? What gets talked about in talk therapy, in other words? None other than what troubles the client. Issues brought up by clients can range from poor self-esteem, problems with managing stress and regulating emotions, relationship dissatisfaction, inability to cope with anxiety and depression, body image struggles, eating disorders, to challenges leading a healthy lifestyle that includes a work-life balance [9]. More specifically, these issues are assessed in relation to the client’s thoughts, emotions, behaviors, & beliefs, looking at how these can be understood, resolved, or coped with so that the client feels more calm and empowered in the face of daily struggles. 

Thus, essentially, that’s what psychotherapy can do for you: improve your thoughts, feelings, & behaviors, enhance your relationship with yourself & others and transform your relationship to stress and anxiety, thereby helping you to derive more pleasure from every day and to live with ease — whatever you happen to be struggling with. 



[1] The Science of the Art of Psychotherapy, Allan Schore (2012)









Additional Resources:


b) Corey, Gerald. Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, Cengage Learning Custom Publishing, 2012.


Written by :

Iffah Suraya

Lifelong Learner and Mental Health Counselor

Alumni of Boston University, USA, and University of Malaya, Malaysia

The Biggest Myth Ever: “You’ve Got to Love Yourself First, Only Then Will Others Love You”

Do we have to love ourselves first?

You and I hear that a lot: people reminding us to love ourselves in order to be loved by others.
What’s the logic behind that? I presume it’s that when we love ourselves, we accept every part of us and refrain from being critical of ourselves, which makes us act in upbeat, cheerful, and open ways, making others unafraid to approach us and feel drawn to our energy and our positive spirit.

In reality though, no one is going to act in 100% self-accepting ways 100% of the time: people’s faith are tested, daily stress gets at us, memories of past events influence how we interpret our worth, and it may be the case that our needs simply aren’t met. Viewed in this light, how in the world can any human being accomplish the act of feeling okay about themselves?—human beings are anxious creatures who are easily threatened by the past, present, and future. Our heads are bound to feel messed up.
So it’s unfair to tell people that the moment that moment comes—when they ‘love themselves’ (whatever that means!)—that they will get the love they want, whatever kind of love that may be. That moment will never come because human beings will forever be in a struggle to love themselves, especially those with a history of psychological trauma. Are you saying that people with a history of psychological trauma don’t deserve love?

Dear supporters of the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept: don’t for a second think that seemingly ‘unlovable’ people don’t try to love themselves. They try, everyday. They want to, badly. They struggle. Just because they don’t utter the words “I love myself” it doesn’t mean they don’t: we all know how actions speak louder than words. Besides, the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept assumes that we have total control over whether other people choose to love us or not—it’s simple isn’t it? Just love yourself and someone will love you. Here, again, is another example of human beings being drawn to oversimplified ways of understanding the world…Perhaps it’s because the prospect that people might still choose not to love us despite everything we do is just plain scary—to those who believe in the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept, especially.

And even if you love yourself, a person might not love you, because whether or not that someone loves you also has a lot to do with that person—why do we forget this?

So dear supporters of the “you’ve got to love yourself first” precept: think harder, or perhaps wider!

I’ll end this with Ne-Yo’s song’s lyrics, which reminds us that perhaps love is about loving people who need it, not loving people because they are good enough for it: Song link here
Much as you blame yourself, you can’t be blamed for the way that you feel Had no example of a love that was even remotely real
How can you understand something that you never had
Ooh baby if you let me, I can help you out with all of that
Girl let me love you
And I will love you
Until you learn to love yourself Girl let me love you
And all your trouble
Don’t be afraid, girl let me help

That being said, practicing self-love, no matter how hard for some of us, can be beneficial. Here are 7 simple ways you can love yourself.

Written by :

Iffah Suraya


Work-Life Balance for our Mental Health – is it really important?

“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control how you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is”

 – The Minds Journal

In our lives, we have all kinds of priorities, obligations, relationships, interests, and activities that compete for our time. We have the things that we must do, like going to work, caring for others, and having personal commitments. We also have routines we enjoy that make us happy, like spending time with family and friends, working on a hobby, or playing sports. Work-Life Balance is how we do the things we have to do and the things we want to do without changing the number of hours in the day.

Recently, PM Ismail Sabri announced that offices in Malaysia can now operate at 100% capacity. PM noted these decisions were made based on the current risk assessment discussed by the Ministry of Health (MOH, or Kementerian Kesihatan) and the National Security Council (Majlis Keselamatan Negara). This guideline covers all schools under MOE. In this new norm, MOE responsibly completed this difficult task, and what brought to attention as a mental fitness coach is the advice that counseling teachers have to regularly conduct a Healthy Mind Test to identify students who are depressed by the new norms in the school. Indeed, this is a crucial test that we can’t take for granted because mental health matters. Everyone matters. 

However, for those working in corporates, the covid-19 pandemic has caused pressure from all angles. With uncertainty in our economy and pressure to stay employed, many people are experiencing mental health issues like never before, especially at the workplace. Employers need to relook and improve their working environments to prioritize the overall well-being of their employees. What’s more, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that poor mental health and stress can affect an employee’s job performance, productivity, relationship with co-workers, and overall physical functions. This is why companies need to develop a ‘workplace mental health response plan’ and conduct mental health awareness talks. Such a program can help identify those who may need treatment and professional help, directly normalizing a help-seeking behavior. If you feel like you have no control in your life and if you run out of energy to concentrate on your productivity, these work-life balance steps and tips might be of help for a start. 

Why does balance matter?

Do you generally feel well and capable when you feel overwhelmed? Most of you would say that the opposite is true. And this stress can be harmful. It can:

What does balance look like? 

A big part of balance is deciding what tasks or activities are priorities and what tasks or activities aren’t important or can wait. Of course, there are things that you really must do—your employers expect you to complete work on time, and you need to eat and maintain to stay healthy, and you may provide care for others, like your other siblings or aged parents. 

More than one way to balance …

Some people may prefer …

  • Turning off mobile devices after a set time.
  • Tackling work alone in a quiet space.

While others may prefer …

  • Checking mobile devices as messages come up.
  • Working with friends at a coffee shop to prepare for tasks given.

What can you do about it? 

Working toward a work-life balance can be as simple as prioritizing your wellness. What it means is your obligations to your well-being are just as important as your obligations to your employer, family members, and any others who expect your time.

A big part of finding balance and setting priorities is learning to say No. At some point, most of us have agreed to take on an obligation when we didn’t have the time or energy for it. ‘Yes’ may seem like an easier response, but it doesn’t help anyone. Learning how to say no is a real skill that takes practice. It’s called assertiveness. Assertiveness means that you’re honest about your feelings and needs while respecting others. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for wellness.

Unfortunately, people sometimes view the priority of self-care as selfish or indulgent because it’s so helpful. People who prioritize their wellness tend to feel better about themselves (of course). They also tend to have better relationships, better productivity at work, and stronger abilities to handle problems as they come up.

Tips for balance in the workplace
  • Figure out how you like to work. Do you prefer to work at an office, with a group of friends, or at home?
  • Set a schedule that includes all of your obligations and fun activities—and stick to it.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed by a task given, talk to your superior.
  • See how your workplace can help—many offer help with social activities, doing fun activities together, and attending training.
  • Join a group or club around something you enjoy—it can be fun and broaden your social networks.
  • Try to start given tasks early so unexpected problems or events won’t be as difficult to work around.

Realistically, balance isn’t something that people achieve in a single day. It’s something that you achieve over time and you have to be mindful of it. It’s still important to take time for yourself, but you may find it difficult to fit everything into your day. That’s okay—as long as you have a routine that gives you time for other important pieces in a reasonable period.

3 steps to find balance …

  Step 1: For the Body

  • Nourish your body with wholesome foods and consume vegetables and fruits daily.
  • Hydrate yourself with water, not carbonated drinks or juice.

  Step 2: For the Mind

  • Breathing exercises ( Inhale 1: Hold 3: Release 5).
  • Outdoor or indoor physical exercises.

  Step 3: For the Soul

  • Start a gratitude journal (thanking 3 people in life)
  • Start your day and end your day with prayers.


According to the 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), every three in 10 adults aged 16 years and above in Malaysia suffers from some form of mental health issue.

In addition, many are feeling anxious about the Covid-19 pandemic, as the situation does not appear to be improving.

A good way forward to seek mental health services is through a reliable online platform, where patients can communicate with trained general practitioners (GPs), who can refer them to psychologists or psychiatrists as necessary.

By doing so, people can relate their symptoms and receive advice from a doctor remotely.

Read more :

Written by :

Drona Dewi 

CEO & Founder of Drona Wellness
Certified Mental Health Response Instructor

Disclaimer: The information is provided by Drona Dewi, a mental fitness coach who is from a biotechnology background, and a lifestyle researcher. Certified mental health first aider by Malaysian Mental Health Association and Certified Mental health response Instructor by Mental health Management, Australia. The information is NOT  intended to be and should be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional medical advice.




Digital Detox for better Mental Health

Can a Digital Detox Help Your Mental Health?

If you are rarely parted from your smartphone or gadgets and you’re always feeling the urge to check it (even when you know deep down you haven’t got any new notifications or messages!), you should be aware that it’s a negative sign on your mental health. Movement control order (MCO) has increased stresses linked to technology in many ways. It’s therefore really important to think about technology’s place in your self-care plans. During MCO, we were all forced to attend lessons and complete homework with our gadgets, now is the best time to do yourself a favor, go on a digital detox and reconnect within and with people around you.

How technology can contribute to poorer mental health?

According to research, the average person checks their phone up to 10,000 times a year. That’s 28 times a day or more than once every single hour. There can be a few factors involved in this, including Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) on news or notifications and getting dopamine (hormone) rush similar to fuelling an addiction whenever our phone pings with something new. A digital detox of 24 hours (or longer) can have lots of well-being benefits. Lower stress levels, sleeping better and a stronger focus on studies are just a few examples of the mental perks you are likely to gain from switching off completely from your digital life for a day or so regularly. And that’s got to be a whole lot better for your wellbeing, to focus fully on yourself and where you missed out in your lessons and catching up with loved ones.

Here are a few steps to make it happen :
  1. Time your check-ins: The ultimate goal is to get used to the idea of switching off from technology and not feeling stressed or anxious when you do it. Start your day without gadgets. Seek the morning sun, you’ll probably find that the day gets off to a calmer and more productive start. Plus, you’ll have more time to take care of yourself with a healthy, nourishing breakfast too. This can be hard to do in reality, to begin with since mindless scrolling was part of the routine. Once you feel more comfortable with this, you can go a bit longer between check-ins but it may take a while to get to this point if you’re too attached to your devices right now.
  2. Go to places you need to unplug in: If you’re going to places where using technology is a no-no, you’ve got no choice but to embrace it. Fitness classes, hiking, and swimming pools are a couple of examples of this and as a bonus, you’re engaging in another form of self-care: exercise! A sedentary lifestyle can cause stress, depression, and anxiety. Science has proved exercise is as effective as many existing interventions, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), for preventing and treating mental health conditions. Of course, when someone is in the grips of mental health issues, starting to exercise can feel like moving a mountain. But, the smallest of changes can have a big impact. Exercise has immediate effects on your brain chemistry.

Did you know?

People, who meet the government’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week are 30 percent less likely to suffer a depressive episode in the future?

Over time, the future of healthcare will see digital detox and exercise prescribed as a safe, effective intervention for many conditions. Don’t miss out, you may start self-prescribing today. Whether you or someone you know is struggling with devices or simply want to increase your emotional resilience, get into action by the surprising fact that one needs to look for an alternative. Have a technology-free hour: Once you’ve built up to going for an hour without using any form of technology, pick an hour every day where you’ll switch off, step away from all of your devices and enjoy life. An hour is your first goal but big bonus points if you can work up to having a tech ‘blackout’ for a whole weekend! If you are contemplating getting started, have a look at this self-help worksheet attached.

“Me time” daily 5 mins (involves only you) Walk 10,000 steps daily
Phone free day once a week Do a form of strength training twice a week
Start writing. Keep a gratitude journal. 10 push-ups, 20 sit-ups, 20 lunges, 20-star jumps – form a circuit repeat 3x
Pick a hobby without gadgets Morning walks 20mins. Never underestimate the power of the morning sun
Meal time without gadgets Wake up your glutes with yoga, stretching, and lifting your body weight count to w100


Written by :

Drona Dewi 

CEO & Founder of Drona Wellness
Certified Mental Health Response Instructor

Disclaimer: The information is provided by Drona Dewi, a mental fitness coach who is from a biotechnology background, and a lifestyle researcher. Certified mental health first aider by Malaysian Mental Health Association and Certified Mental health response Instructor by Mental health Management, Australia. The information is NOT  intended to be and should be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional medical advice.