I never usually write book reviews for my blog (mainly because I read crime thrillers) but I really want to share my thoughts on Life Tonic by Jody Shield*.
The book advertises itself as ‘a modern toolbox to heal your life and soothe your soul’. It is written for anyone feeling overwhelmed with their life, lacking energy or stuck on old routines. When I received a copy of the book I was certainly feeling all three of those things. Since starting to work on my psychology PhD again after Christmas I had found myself constantly lacking energy and motivation, which is quite unlike me. I didn’t want to go uni, to the gym or to write my blog and I was craving carbs and chocolate like nobody’s business. I would literally spend about 20 minutes in the morning psyching myself up to walk to uni and when I came home I would watch TV all evening after dinner. All-in -all I was quite unhappy because I just didn’t feel like myself and I was stuck in a negative rut.
Enter Jody Sheild’s book Life Tonic.
I opened my parcel containing the book as soon as it arrived and I felt calm and hopeful just looking at the cover. Once I started to read Life Tonic I sped my way through the first section in one evening – I ended up going to bed really late because I just didn’t want to stop reading. This first section is focused on uncovering your thoughts, feelings and beliefs and the past events that may have shaped how you are now. In each of the chapters Jody shares her experiences in areas such as work and relationships then invites you to think about how several questions relate to your own life. I really liked her style of writing and how open and relatable she is. Plus, I think she sets the scene nicely for you to answer the questions- if the questions had just been sprung on me I think I would have found it difficult to come up with an answer.
I’ll be honest – I sobbed my way through the beginning chapters while I answered the questions and wrote about my childhood and school years, my family, relationships and finding my purpose. I have been lucky to have a very kind and loving family who have supported me, but even so it made me upset to recognise the lasting impact of some events in my past. I also realised that a lot of my beliefs (for example, surrounding money or planning for the future) do come from my parents and they aren’t totally compatible with how I want to live my life. I had struggled to act in line with those beliefs but it was a revelation to me when the penny dropped and I realised that it’s okay for me to believe in something different and I don’t have to plan my life how they, or other people might want me to. (This might be obvious to you, but I think it’s something that has caused me a lot of upset and I think that by reading the book you would have your own revelations).
Also, you may or may not get emotional like I did while reading Life Tonic, but in case you do I would suggest that you read it on your own in a nice quite space rather than when you might be commuting to work for example.
Moving on – in the second half of the book Jody shares her ‘tonics’, which seem to centre around getting to know and accept yourself better. She covers meditation, how to heal your heart, reduce anxiety and let go of things that aren’t benefitting you. Not all of the chapters felt relevant to me while I was reading them, but that’s not to say they won’t be helpful in the future. Plus, I think that everyone is struggling with different things so it is brilliant that she provides such a variety of tonics.
Overall I liked the short chapters in Life Tonic, which made it easy to read. I also liked that Jody recognises in the book that some of the concepts covered, such as spirituality, might seem a bit ‘woo-woo’ and that people may feel uncomfortable reading certain topics. She encourages the reader to go through the book with an open mind and I would strongly encourage you to do the same. I don’t think you would get much benefit from simply reading the book, you need to engage with it and do the activities.
I have put into practice some of the tonics in the latter part of book but I think for me the first section that encouraged me to think about my life and my beliefs felt the most powerful and crying through it was quite cathartic. I will definitely be revisiting this book and would recommend it to anyone who is struggling at the moment. I haven’t read many ‘self-help’ type books, but I love that Life Tonic isn’t at all patronising or just stating the obvious. I found it genuinely helpful and I hope you would too.
*Disclaimer: I was emailed by the Press Team at Hodder & Stoughton to invite me to one of the book launch event for Life Tonic, but I couldn’t attend so they sent me a copy of the book instead. All views in this Life Tonic by Jody Shield book review are my own.