Nordic Nation: Holly Brooks on Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic

Rachel PerkinsApril 10, 2020

We’ve all heard the phrase: “These are unprecedented times.” And it is true. What the world is facing during the Covid-19 pandemic is something that none of us have experienced before. We are all feeling it. 

Uncertainty is ubiquitous and caused by a myriad of factors. We may be concerned about the health of ourselves and our families, or about the financial impacts of our country coming to a halt. We might be attempting to work from home without access to childcare, leaving little time to care for ourselves, or we may be struggling with isolation while distancing ourselves from others. 

On March 21st, licensed professional counselor Holly Brooks shared the following on her practice’s FaceBook page:

“While the primary discussion revolves around physical health issues, my professional lens is set to think about people mentally and emotionally. This pandemic is going to be a marathon, but right now it feels like a sprint. Yes, we absolutely need to do everything possible right now to flatten the curve, but if we’ve flattened ourselves (burnt out, physically sick, emotional break down/panic attacks) then we cannot help ANYONE. 

Here are three steps that I feel are crucial to help you survive (and even thrive) in this pandemic marathon:

1) Release the energy stored inside of you. This could come in the form of crying, a “thought download” aka journalling, dancing or exercise.

2) Engage in some form of safety/soothing technique. Work on your inner dialogue. Combine it with some diaphragmatic breathing. Use one of the many meditation apps.

3) Practice gratitude and VISUALIZE the FUTURE. Right now our minds are full of “what ifs” and literally worst case scenarios. Sure, we need to prepare and be smart about our preparation but make sure you’re balancing it with positivity. The same goes for the media. Balance the bad news with the good.”

For those unfamiliar with Brooks, she is a licensed professional counselor based in Anchorage, Alaska. Before starting her practice, Holly Brooks LLC, she was a U.S. Ski Team member and competed in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic Games. 

In this episode, Brooks unpacks the many sources of grief and anxiety that people are facing and expands on the steps she recommends to identify and manage the challenges of the times. She discusses the idea of naming and acknowledging feelings to help release energy around them and shares a practice she uses with her clients using the painted rocks in the photos below.  

She leaves listeners with a meditation that can be used daily to soothe and ground themselves as we collectively settle in for the long haul. 

For further information about Brooks’ practice or services, contact or visit her FaceBook page

Resources mentioned:

Brené Brown on “FFTs” in the Unlocking Us podcast

That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” by Scott Berinato, Harvard Business Review interview with David Kessler

List of emotions:

A lengthy list of emotions Holly Brooks uses with her clients for a “thought download” exercise to help cope with anxiety and grief. (Courtesy photo)

Rachel Perkins

Rachel is an endurance sport enthusiast based in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado. You can find her cruising around on skinny skis, running in the mountains with her pup, or chasing her toddler (born Oct. 2018). Instagram: @bachrunner4646

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