• Tue, 1, Dec, 2020 - 2:10:PM

The Kiwi who wrote the book on calm

Journey To Wellness / Image via Instagram

Journey To Wellness may be one of the cutest Instagram accounts in the world. Filled entirely with illustrations, Journey To Wellness is a project by Rebekah Ballagh, illustrator and qualified counsellor, documenting some of the best ways to deal with our emotions.

You could print out just about any of them and hang them on your wall. This one for, instance, speaks to one’s inner child. This one describes how to deal with a panic attack. And now they’re available to own for yourself.

Note To Self: The Secrets of Calm is the perfect Christmas gift, for children and adults alike. The book works as something of a textbook – and was in fact created when Ballagh was working as a school counsellor and wanted something more for her students’ emotional education than the pamphlets they were receiving.

Beautiful and delightfully charming, Note to Self is all about how to manage your anxiety and stress. The book is filled with quotes, infographs, tips and exercises, all beautifully illustrated, that help to simplify the cacophony in our heads.

It reads like something a child could understand, and it certainly would make a great gift for a child, but I don’t think that is true purpose of the book. Instead, I think Notes On Calm is the textbook on emotion that every adult needs.

We are taught, from age 5 onward, how to read and write. We are encouraged to eat nutritiously and exercise our bodies. But we are never taught about what to do with the pesky emotions inside our heads. And so, when we do run up against those emotions, a lot of us are unprepared. It’s easy to become lost in our various feelings – and it’s very easy to become depressed and anxious. And worst of all, it’s easy to feel like we are completely alone in all this.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. We all have to deal with the vastness of our emotions: sad one minute, ecstatic the next. We all will come to know grief throughout our lives – and we all will come to know anxiety. Knowing how to moor ourselves during the hard times – and swim back to safety – is an essential life skill. Unfortunately, it’s not something we are learning in school. Rebekah Ballagh is doing the work that our school curriculum is lacking. And besides, I’ve never seen a textbook so pretty.

Note To Self: The Secrets of Calm by Rebekah Ballagh is available online and in bookstores.


  • Book /
  • Review /
  • Calm /
  • Mental Health /
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