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:

  • Add to poor mental health and make it difficult to concentrate, make decisions, feel confident in your abilities, and handle problems or difficulties at work and in your personal life. 
  • Negatively affect the way you act—you may avoid or lash out at loves ones, use alcohol or other drugs to cope with difficult feelings, or avoid stressful situations

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. 

  • Finding balance leads to greater life satisfaction and well-being—which improves your ability to find balance in the future.
  • Balance is individual. For example, some people need a lot of downtimes to relax, while others like to be busy much of the time. Some people like being more connected, while others appreciate more time on their own.
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.

  • Do you enjoy a specific exercise? Schedule it in your daily calendar and stick to it.
  • Do you need 30 minutes before or after work to relax before you start taking care of responsibilities at home? Talk with others in your home and work out a strategy to protect 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.

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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.