17th December 2020
Rebekah Ballagh is a qualified counsellor, an illustrator and the creator of the popular Instagram page, Journey to Wellness. She's also the author of Note to Self, a gorgeously illustrated guide to feeling calm; complete with mental toolkits to help with anxiety and worry - a perfect gift book for 2020. We chatted to the lovely Rebekah about coping with festive stress and her picks for books for a blissed out holidays. After chatting with Rebekah, we felt instantly calmer too!
What is your day job?
Running Journey to Wellness, illustrating/writing and being a full-time Mama to Mikah (18 months).
What are you working on at the moment?
Another book and many resources for Journey to Wellness & mental health.
Note to Self.
Many of us have experienced feelings of anxiety, stress, overthinking or depression over the last year. Did you always have this book in mind, and 2020 felt like the perfect time to publish?
I've wanted to create a book since I began creating resources for mental health, however the timing of this book seemed to organically just fall into the perfect place. At the beginning of 2020 when the book was signed, I don't think any of us could have predicted how stressful the year would become. So the book being released at the end of this year was really just the most perfect thing.
You are a qualified counsellor and have a huge following on your Instagram page, @journey_to_wellness_ What's the secret to promoting wellbeing and calmness on social media?
It still baffles me really, the amount of followers in our Instagram community. But I believe the key ingredient is the original content that is credible and easy to access and digest. It's backed by my training as a counsellor but also my personal experience and the experience of working with people going through their own struggles. It makes the messages real, relatable and truly tried and tested tools for wellbeing.
The gorgeous illustrations in Note to Self really create a feeling of calm when reading your book. Have you developed your illustration style with that in mind?
The style is meant to feel very non-threatening. Almost nostalgic and warm feeling. Even though the content can be hard or be about a true struggle or issue, I wanted to deliver my illustrations in a way that made that content feel approachable. A lot of people learn and absorb things visually, and I hope that these illustrations really aide people in that experience.
Any tips on how to stay calm and relaxed over the Christmas holidays?!
Remember your values and what it's really all about for you. At the end of the day, the most important thing is family, wellbeing and your own mental health. You can't pour from an empty cup. Take stock of all you have to be grateful for at this time and keep reminding yourself to come back to the basics. When it comes down to it, it's not about the number of presents, the perfect cooked meal, money spent... Look after yourself too. Don't forget your own needs and boundaries.
Some quick fire book recommendations for please!
The 52 Week Project by Lauren Keenan.
And I'm looking forward to The Book of Angst coming out in January, after reading The Book of Overthinking by Gwendoline Smith.
I've just started Period Queen by Lucy Peach as well.
What are you reading at the moment?
I most recently finished The Choice by Edith Eger.
What did you like about it?
The message of hope and of overcoming trauma and adversity. That we are all capable of healing and of change.
Which literary character do you most identify with? Why?
Lately I honestly only really get to read childrens books... to my 18 month old daughter of course. The rest of my free time has been spent creating resources and working, then moving house. So right now, the character that comes to mind is tyrannosaurus drip...
He's a duck billed dinosaur in Julia Donaldson's book. He is true to himself and his values, no matter what. He is brave and authentic. And he recongisies his strengths, despite initially feeling different from everyone else. It's quite sweet really.
Hardback or paperback?
I've switched to decaf these days to lesson physical anxiety symptoms, but can't go past a good old flat white...or a latte with a half shot of hazlenut, if i need a sugar hit and a pick me up!