Archive for the 'depression' Category

100 Things to do…

Posted by Holly Stokes on January 13th, 2015

Family Raft Trip“I wonder what this is” I thought as I clicked “100 things to do.” I was surprised to find it was a list I’d made in 2005 before I had graduated from Portland State University inspired by John Goddard, the adventurer.

But I had done it a little differently, I had started the list with things that I had already accomplished and was proud of: I’d learned French, lived in a foreign country and I was a white water raft guide. I smiled to myself as I looked at the list of what I had already done.

Many times we get so focused on the future, trudging onward, looking toward the next summit of achievement and don’t give ourselves credit for how far we’ve come.

As I reviewed the list, I found I could cross a few more off: write a book (actually two), graduate from college and travel to the Bahamas.

Some desires had changed, like getting my motorcycle license, but I think that was really about my ex boyfriend. I haven’t ruled it out, but it’s just not so important anymore.

I was surprised that so many of my desires had stayed the same.

There were only 79 things on the list, so I added a few more things: visit the Mayan pyramids, see Harry Potter Daigon Alley in Universal Studios and swim with the dolphins – just to name a few.

Some of these things may sound frivolous, I grant you that. But I remember a time when I had lost hope for dreaming. I remember when I had a bleak picture of the future and so I allow myself now to revel in possibilities because I know the value of dreaming.

Dreaming is the spice of life, it keeps us young. Even simple dreams have the power to spark something within us – hope. It can raise our spirits and encourage us to engage with life. And it doesn’t have to be grand adventures, our dreams can even be the small things.

No matter where you are in life– we still have a lot of living to do!

And although I haven’t achieved some things on the list that have been there for several years, I still keep room for the possibilities and I feel inspired by the future.

Everyone’s life path is different and our course is guided by the values that we hold dear. Looking back to my 20’s for many years my life was ruled by freedom and adventure. And now I find myself very content with a quieter life filled with purpose and mission.

Looking back on your life, I wonder how far you’ve come? What will you find out about yourself when you make a list of what you’ve already done and accomplished? You may be a superstar but just haven’t recognized it in yourself yet.

And keep in mind, that accomplishments are more than what we’ve done, they are also about who we are becoming. How have you changed and grown through life?

And looking forward into the new year, what possibilities do you see for yourself? What are the values running your life and charting your direction?

The Challenge: Write up your list of 100-ish things. Make the first part about what you’ve already accomplished that you’re proud of, write as many as you can, then write the month and the year, and next list what you still want to do. Then share three things you are proud of and three things you want to do in 2015 in the comments below.


5 Stress Relief Quick Tips

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 16th, 2014

Ahh The holidays. That wonderful time of year where we get together as families and celebrate and cherish our traditions. The season is a swarm of  parties, get togethers and more evnets. And then there is the holiday shopping and the flood of holiday shoppers and traffic. Along with the cherished traditions also comes more stress. More demands on our time.  Stress Relief Tips And more demands on our resources. More expenses for parties, traveling to see family, and gift giving.

Although the holidays are about fun and celebration, they also bring more stress. Stress is a silent creeper. It can creep up on you. Many people take for granted the real cost of stress. It can affect your thinking, keeping you feeling anxious and fuzzy headed. It can also affect your decisions. It can also affect your relationships. When we are stressed, we tend to be more snappy and argumentative.

But that’s not all, stress has physical costs on our body. Stress contributes to all major diseases, it aggravates illness, saps your health, your energy, your focus, causes sleep problems and causes you to gain weight. Here’s my top quick tips to address stress this holiday season:



  1. 5 –10 Minutes in the Morning –Take 5 minutes just to be still in the morning before the chaos starts. Journaling even 5-10 minutes can help you set priorities, listen to your own thoughts and get focused for your day.


  1. Take Breaks - Take a break in your day to walk around the block, get a breath of fresh air and physically move your body. When you move opposite sides of your body at the same time, it synchronizes the hemispheres of your brain, increasing circulation and improving focus and reasoning.


  1. Use Your Commute - Get some relaxing CDs or pick a good soothing radio station. Music is one of the few activities that activates your whole brain which increases creativity and focus and well being. I often blast the radio when I’m driving and belt it out! Getting caught up in your favorite songs is a great stress reliever!


  1. Take B Complex vitamins—when you are stressed, your body burns up more B vitamins. B vitamins are essential to the body’s metabolic processes and combats stress, anxiety, depression and supports mental health. Sources of B vitamins in foods are meat, eggs, poultry, beans and vegetables.


  1. Kava Kava – I prefer taking Kava Kava in a tincture form and adding a dropper full to a glass of water. I feel it takes the edge off of stress and calms the mind. Find it at your local herb shop or health food store and ask about precautions.

There are many stress relief activities that will help calm your mind and your body, but these only take care of stress after it happens.   When you are stressed, your body physically responds to what you are thinking about. With brain training and hypnosis, we can train the brain out of mental patterns causing the stress, anxiety and unhappiness in the first place, curtailing the stress response before it starts.

Some common mental patterns that cause or heighten stress are: I need to be perfect, I need to get it right, I have to get it all done, worrying and the list goes on and on. The underlying mental patterns can be very different and unique to each person as we all have unique experience and history. What are some ways that you reduce holiday stress? Add your tips to the comments below:

Holly Stokes, The Brain Trainer

You can train your brain out of fears, anxiety, negative thinking, self criticism, cravings, and unhappiness!

Find your life purpose, motivation and confidence with your brain!    

P.S. You can also check out my CD, mp3: Train Your Brain for Stress Relief at:

Embrace Vulnerability

Posted by Holly Stokes on November 26th, 2014

“To feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability.
Belonging and connection is a deep human need. Watch Brene Brown – the researcher-storyteller decode the human connection and offer profound wisdom.

When Brene interviewed people about connection, they told her stories of disconnection and shame. She says “shame is simply understood as the fear of disconnection, the fear that something in me is not worthy or deserving of love and belonging, that feeling of I’m not good enough.

And she found there were two groups of people, one living from not feeling worthy and deserving of love and belonging, and the other group that lives from a belief that they are worthy and deserving of love and she calls them the “whole hearted.”

There are some things we do that keep us living in the first category. We numb our emotions. Brene says, you can’t selectively numb feelings. When we numb the bad feelings, we numb the good stuff too: we numb the joy, we numb the gratitude, we numb the happiness… and then we feel lost and go looking for purpose.

The second thing we do is make the uncertain certain. We say, this is how it is, I’m right and you’re wrong and there’s little discussion.

The third thing we do is we try to perfect, we try to put life in a box and make it look a certain way. But life is messy and complicated. [And with striving to perfect also comes judgements and criticism which can keep us stuck.]

And the third thing we do is to pretend that what we do doesn’t affect others.

These things leave us feeling isolated and disconnected which is the root of loneliness. A recent poll found that the number one social issue facing people today is loneliness, which comes from isolation and lack of connection.

But there’s another way to live as what she calls the whole hearted. The whole hearted are characterized by the courage to be imperfect, they have kindness toward themselves and others, and experience connection as authenticity and they fully embrace vulnerability.

So let’s unravel the mental patterns that the whole hearted are living from.

Courage to be imperfect. This courage comes from knowing that life is messy and its okay. And it also comes from the belief that you are not your mistakes, mistakes are simply a part of learning and growing through life. What “mistakes” are you willing to accept and stop blaming yourself and others for?

Kindness toward self and others and authenticity. To allow ourselves to be seen and to be authentic, we have to like ourselves first. You can’t authentically share yourself if you are ashamed or critical or trying to hide who you are. What is there to appreciate about who you are and what you’ve overcome? What judgements and criticisms are you willing to let go of?

Fully embrace vulnerability. To take risks you have to know that the value of who you are is bigger than your choices and that whatever happens, you are okay and you can trust the process of life. What risks are you willing to take?

Brene says, “To let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, to love with our whole hearts even though there is no guarantee, to practice gratitude and joy even in the face of fear.”

“What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful.”

What if you didn’t get the messages that you were worthy and deserving when you were growing up? What if it wasn’t okay to make mistakes? What if you internalized criticism and judgement?

Well, that’s just the stuff that I help people change. Beliefs are just mental patterns that your brain learned and it can unlearn them and integrate new ones, even at the unconscious level.

How will you live whole heartedly this week? How will you let yourself be vulnerable? What risks are you willing to take?

I was going to keep this a secret unless I got accepted because it’s safer to share a win than to share a risk. But in the spirit of vulnerability, I will share that I applied to be a speaker at a Tedtalks event – Eeek! What if I don’t get it? What if I DO get it? It’s a mixed bag either way, but that’s my risk this week.

Dealing with Change

Posted by Holly Stokes on October 7th, 2014

Recently I visited Portland, where I lived for 6 years.

It was an emotional experience, seeing the beauty of the place, visiting my old haunts and seeing friends. And it was a realization that that time was over. It will never be the same.

When we have segments of life that we really enjoy, it’s hard to not look back and pine for what was. But if we keep looking back, we get stuck in the past and we cannot create a future. And we can get stuck in loss.

How do you deal with change?

Guaranteed life will change. Sometimes life is like a roller coaster ride. There are ups and downs, screams of terror, screams of joy and it keeps changing. Sometimes it does whoop de doos and sometimes it goes upside down, but it’s all part of the ride.

Whether it’s a change in relationships, change in a job, change in family or friendships and circumstance, it just keeps changing.

You can have the essence of what you had. You can find love again, you can have a home again, you can have comfort, you can have beauty, you can have friendships. Just allow the faces to change.  Imagine gathering up the essence of what you really enjoyed and imagine sprinkle it out into your future.

As you imagine what you want, you tune your brain to be aware of it, to find the essence of it and with that awareness you are able to scoop up the opportunities as they come.

Is there a time in your past that you long for? Is there something you feel you’ve left behind? Give the essence of it an image and carry it with you or set it out in your future.

“If you want something bad enough, all the world will conspire to bring it to you.” – Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist.

When you get clear about the essence of what you want, you can find it. What do you want to show up in your future?

NLP Tool Motivation: Change your Mental Pictures

Posted by Holly Stokes on December 4th, 2013

Motivation can range from simple to complicated. At the simple level, we need to change how we are thinking about the thing we’d like more motivation on. Use this simple tool to boost your motivation on something.

A simple level motivation is to pay attention to your mental pictures. Think of a thing you are highly motivated to do. Now notice how you picture that in your mind. What is the location of the picture, what is the color, the brightness, the contrast, the sharpness of the image?

Next, picture something you want more motivation on, how do you picture that in your mind? What is the quality of that picture, the colors, the location, the contrast, sharpness of the image?

Now change the qualities of the picture, add more light to the picture of what you’d like more motivation on and change the qualities to match the picture of what you are highly motivated to do. As you change the mental picture, you’ll feel more motivated. Change the light, add brightness and vivid color. I like to add a pinch of pixie dust for good measure.

Now how motivated are you to do it?

Laughter is not only good for your mood, its good for your health.

Posted by Holly Stokes on June 22nd, 2013

Can watching funny movies strengthen your immune system? There are physiological and psychological responses toLaughter is good for your health. laughter that affect both the mind and the body. Research studies show that the many health benefits of laughter may be just the ticket to help heal a weakened immune system and restore a positive mindset.

Laughter is a great way to reduce stress.  Cortisol and epinephrine, stress hormones that can impair the immune system, decrease with laughter.  Relieving stress conserves the body’s energies and promotes healing. One study found that laughter actually enhanced production and activity of natural killer cells which fight viruses and tumor cells. (Bennet, et al).

In addition to decreasing stress, laughter may also help with coping skills. Laughter was found to ease negative emotions and increase the sense of control and hope of cancer patients.

Laughter is thought to increase the number and activity of cells essential to the immune response including lymphocyte, cytotoxic helper cells and B cells. Studies have shown an increase in the number of antibodies after subjects watched a humorous film. Laughter also elevates levels…

Read the rest of the article here:


Research shows regular exercise is as effective as antidepressants.

I am now writing for, my official title is: Salt Lake City Healthy Living Examiner! Here’s my first article:

Can exercise be a prescription for depression?

We all know the health benefits of exercise, but what about the mental health benefits?

Research studies show that exercise can be as effective for depression as antidepressants.  A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, followed 156 men and women divided into three groups. One group participated in an aerobic exercise program, one group took Zoloft, and a third group did both. After 16 weeks, depression symptoms had eased in all three groups and 60-70% participants,  could not be classified as having major depression.

A followup study showed the effects of exercise lasted longer than antidepressants. From Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School “Understanding Depression”, reported that researchers checked in with 133 participants six months after the study had ended, those who engaged in regular exercise were less likely to relapse into depression.

Read the full article here, plus the top 5 tips for Motivation for your exercise program.

Here’s to your Healthy Lifestyle,

Holly Stokes, Motivational Coach

P.S. Need help with your Motivation to Exercise? Get the MP3 Motivation for Fitness for only $9.95 instant download. In just 15 minutes of listening, you’ll feel empowered and excited for fitness, looking forward to a great workout. Boost your motivation: see details here:

Powerful NLP Process to Transform Depression

Posted by Holly Stokes on May 4th, 2012

In Neuro- Linguistic Programming (NLP) we think of depression as a mental habit rather than a disease.

Now a mental habit sounds fairly simple to change, right? Well, yes and no. What we know now in how the brain works, we can help it set up a new mental habit very quickly, yet emotions can be tricky, they can range from simple to very complicated.

At the simple level, we have emotional habits, like feeling stressed when you open up your mail or pay your bills. Then we have emotional associations, like the emotions that different foods have, such as the feeling of warmth and family that comes with pumpkin pie.

Then, we have emotions as messengers, giving us useful information about our lives and how to find greater happiness and well being.

Emotions can also indicate automatic thought patterns that are working against us. Rather than avoiding, denying or cutting off these negative emotions, its even more useful to identify what is causing or triggering the feeling, and then change it at the underlying level.

Emotions are messengers

Emotions are messengers giving us important (more…)