• NZ Booklovers

Interview: Rebekah Ballagh talks about Note to Self Journal


Note to Self Journal is jam-packed with inspirational affirmations, thought-provoking journal prompts and exercises that will change your life. Rebekah Ballagh of @journey_to-wellness and bestselling book Note to Self has discovered these effective instruments of change through her years of counselling work and in her own journey with anxiety, self-doubt and tough times. Rebekah talks to NZ Booklovers.


Can you tell us a little about the new book?

Note to Self Journal is a collection of some of my favourite tools for personal development + thought provoking journal prompts and comforting affirmations. I wanted this book to be more than ‘just a journal’, so I made sure it was packed with really interactive exercises. It covers off everything from self-worth and low mood through to worries and unhelpful thinking. Inside you’ll find a range of breathing exercises, logs and tracking tools, mindfulness & grounding exercises, tools to clear your mind, check-in with yourself, gratitude logs, self-care planners… the list goes on! It’s like a years worth of therapy in one book!


How difficult was it writing and illustrating the Journal compared to your first book Note to Self and what did you find different about the process from the first book?

It wasn’t hard at all to write and illustrate because the tools inside are SO powerful and so good… it was harder trying to select the exercises to include and which ones to cut out. There is so much more I could have added… but that’s for another book maybe… ;) This was a really different process than my first book. This book is much more interactive and has more text, although It’s still super visual. This process was also done with a graphic designer laying out my text and images, which was a whole new process, as my first book was all handwritten!


How did you come up with the activities in the journal? What research was involved?

I pulled together a collection of the tools I used frequently in my therapeutic work as a counsellor. When I was seeing clients, I so often found the resources out there were really stale and not overly accessible. So I basically invented (or re-invented) and selected all of my-go to therapeutic interventions to include in this book.

All of the content is completely research backed and science based, leaning on models such as cognitive behavioural therapy, narrative, ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) and Mindfulness based techniques (to name a few).


What was your routine or process when writing this book?

Go like the clappers!


This book was quite a fast process - a few months from start to finish (in terms of writing and illustration) in order to meet a deadline for printing.


I’m a full time stay at home mum too, so as with my first book (Note to Self), I wrote and drew the contents while my daughter was asleep, so either during her lunchtime nap or once she was tucked up in bed at night. Being at home with her is wonderful and also means my windows for work are limited. Luckily I’m a night owl, so I put in quite a few late nights on the book and enjoyed every minute.


If a soundtrack was made to accompany the new book, name a song or two you would include.

I found this question way harder to answer than it should of been! I guess a go-to feel good songs is India Arie ‘I am not my hair’, and I often listen to songs like Tadow and Boundaries from FKJ when i’m illustrating and creating.


What did you enjoy the most about writing and illustrating Note to Self Journal?

I was beyond excited the whole time just to see these amazing tools being laid out in such a fun, colourful and visual way. This book is everything I could have ever wanted as a resource as someone working in the mental health field and also everything I ever needed during times in my past where I struggled with my own mental health.

Honestly, I get so emotional and pumped and passionate thinking about this book possibly helping someone through a tough time. I 100% believe in the prompts, tools, exercises and affirmations in this book. I hope it helps people to feel supported and that they are not alone, and to believe that there is a way forward. There is hope.


What did you do to celebrate finishing this book?

At the time of writing these answers I haven’t had my celebration yet! But once Note to Self Journal hits the shelves I think I will head down to the local book stores to stare at it in astonishment and bewilderment, just like I did with the first book. It’s a bit dream-like seeing something I have created in a shop! Maybe a glass of bubbles with some family and friends at home on the deck after that.


What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why?

This year I’ve been reading lots of John Grisham, for a switch up from always reading mental health books! I’ve also read 138 dates by Rebekah Campbell, The Gift by Edith Eger and ‘Set Boundaries, Find Peace’ by Nedra Glover Tawwab - all of which are great!


What’s next on the agenda for you?

I have so much coming up I am excited about. Firstly, more books! I have another one out in Feb 2022 and am working on a children’s book as we speak which I am honestly so beyond excited about it’s not even funny.


I’ve also been hosting 6 week personal development coaching programmes online through my website (www.journeytowellness.online) and am planning a tour around the south island visiting schools to deliver resources and trainings; My husband and I actually bought an old 1971 Ford house bus, so he has been doing that up ready for us to hit the road with our 2 year old. We'll live in it and tour around for 5 months or so stopping at whichever schools are keen for a visit and some training. I offer parent and teacher talks about Anxiety in our kids and teens and how we as supportive adults can help them, so hopefully I can reach some schools that might not often get PD opportunities, especially those rural and smaller schools… who know what will happen after that!


www.journeytowellness.online