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3 Ways You Can Prioritize Your Mental Health This Year

You shouldn't have to "white-knuckle it" through these stressful times.

By Gwendolyn Knapp January 1, 2021 Published in the December 2020 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Dr. Beatriz Craven suggests we put our mental health first.

Image: Thomas Shea

Dr. Beatriz Craven—Dr. B to her patients—knows how you’re feeling. Her practice, Modern Therapy ( is tailored to high-functioning folks just like us, the ones who, she says, are “just good enough to white-knuckle it through.” Here’s how she suggests prioritizing and maintaining our mental health in the face of unpredictable and trying times. 


Write it out.

It’s scientifically proven that 20 minutes of journaling a day will make a significant impact on your mood. Why? “It’s like having a therapist in your pocket,” Craven says. “It’s giving yourself space to be like: What am I feeling? What am I thinking? What is moving through me right now?”

Find a quiet place to curl up and gripe your heart out into a Moleskine or even a locked app like Penzu, she suggests ( But don’t just vent and stop there. “Get curious about it,” advises Dr. B. “Just based off what I’m hearing my person say, ask what do I need? It might be a gentle nudge. Other times it’s love. Other times it’s—you’re doing the best you can.”

Now that’s a mantra we can get behind in 2021.


Keep in touch.

No time to call friends, or can’t seem to drum up the energy for long conversations with loved ones? “Just check in with yourself. Give yourself a lot of permission,” Craven says. It’s good enough to text a quick I love you or thinking of you, especially if you’ve got two kids arguing over Fortnite, a dog burrowing into the couch, and chicken tenders burning in the oven. 

“Everyone is going to have their unique challenges, and we need to work within what we need.” Try phoning a loved one while taking a restorative evening or weekend walk: “That can help counter any sedentary, stuck-in-the-house routine, and open ourselves up to having deeper, richer conversations.”


See a therapist (virtually).

The reasons to see a therapist are manifold—career changes, relationships, life in general. “Especially now, we’re moving through all kinds of fluctuations. Things will feel good one week, and we’ll be struggling the next,” Craven says. “If you’re curious, go for it.”

With virtual sessions, which are now the norm, you’ll have another layer of added privacy—the comfort of your home—and finding a great therapist is as simple as searching the Psychology Today directory online.

“The first thing you want to look for—within the coaching world we call it a ‘chemistry meeting’—is if it was a first date, am I into you?”

You should feel comfortable telling your therapist everything you’re thinking and feeling. “Tell them, tell them, tell them. So that they can speak to that directly,” says Dr. B. “I’m in your corner, that’s ultimately my job.”


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