Unfortunately, the greatest lessons in life are typically learned through pain or when something goes wrong.  We’ve talked about the “emotional check engine light” before – when you are scared, or angry, or sad…those are your emotions’ way of saying “hey, I need attention on something.”

I have a confession: I have been ignoring my emotional check engine light.  I saw the signs but, like so many women, I shamed myself by telling myself that I should be able to handle everything.  So, I continued to try to handle everything on my own.  That is until I physically went into a closet to cry and get away from the world because I couldn’t take any more.  That was at the beginning of July.  But it didn’t dawn on me that I wasn’t taking my mental health seriously and making it a priority until this week.

It’s easier to gauge our physical health through metrics like body weight, blood pressure, BMI, the way our clothes fit, etc.  But it is much harder to gauge your mental health because there are no metrics for that.  The biggest lesson I have learned through this is that, as your life changes and circumstances change, it is important to regularly check in with yourself to make sure you are doing everything you can to keep yourself mentally and emotionally healthy.

This has been a very trial-and-error process for me.  I know that I need quiet time without the distraction of a phone or ipad or computer or television, and I have figured out that it requires getting out of my house as well.  In the last month, I took a trip to clear my mind, I got a facial, I got a massage, I got a pedicure, and I even had my hair and makeup done one day.  I know that I feel better about myself when I take care of myself physically.  But that still wasn’t enough.

A dear friend of mine sent me a Classpass this week, and I immediately enrolled in a yoga meditation class for the next day thinking “why not?”  Forced time sitting on a mat with my hands on my knees listening to plinky plunky music with my eyes closed isn’t my idea of relaxing.  But I went to force myself out of my comfort zone because all of the things I’ve tried still hadn’t quite worked for me.  That  and the spa is super expensive as much as I would love to live at Charles Penzone Salons, so my pocketbook was beginning to feel the pain as well.

The lady teaching the class said that there would be two periods of meditation during the session in between the basic yoga, and many people would have trouble with still silence and their thoughts for that long.  Surprisingly, I was not one of those people.  I focused on my breath and calmed my mind, and I can honestly say that I felt like a new woman leaving the studio.

My takeaway and commitment to myself is this: in addition to the other non-negotiables I have like time with family and working out, my mental health is going to be a priority as well.  I’ll now be at yoga class every Wednesday afternoon at 4:15.  Here’s to a healthier me – both outside and inside.