Bibliophile | ‘Note to Self’ by Rebekah Ballagh

Note to Self: The Secrets of Calm
by Rebekah Ballagh
Allen & Unwin

Rebekah Ballagh is a qualified counselor who created the popular Instagram page called Journey to Wellness – @journey_to_wellness_ – when she wanted students at the school where she was counseling at to have something better than leaflets. Her book is a beautifully illustrated personal toolbox to strengthening your sense of worth and navigating feelings of anxiety, worry, guilt and sadness.

As a high school counselor, she had met many teenagers trying to deal with depression, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts. Ballagh herself has been plagued with anxiety and panic attacks and has used her training in mental health to developed ways of not giving in, to ground and centre herself, and to face her fears head on. She reminds readers that you don’t have to be at your lowest ebb to ask for help.

Note to Self has bite-sized helpful tips with delightful illustrations. It shows how to unravel beliefs and narratives that no longer work for you, and recognise unhelpful thoughts and thinking styles. She shows how breathing techniques and centring yourself which will allow you to be more in control of your life.

It’s not just teenagers who need guidance on how to be kind to yourself and manifest confidence. The panic attack cheat sheet is ideal for teenagers, but also adults. I found the idea of a ‘brain dump’ particularly interesting, not only to ease the thoughts clogging up your brain and causing distress, but also to identify unhelpful repetitive thoughts and thinking styles.

The book is small, but the illustrations make it a visual delight. Each page has ways to navigate stress, worry, anxiety or panic attacks – which are a collection of Ballagh’s tried and tested techniques. Ballagh hopes that her easy-to-digest book of how to manage anxiety and stress will be read by many people – passed from person to person, given as a gift or read in a waiting room.

Lezly Herbert

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