Course Content
Month 1
This month, we will focus on understanding the intrusive and avoidant symptoms associated with PTSD and trauma, the importance and influence of physical exercise, and the calming power of breathing exercises. Each week, we will focus on understanding your symptoms, a technique to help manage these symptoms, a self-care activity related to physical exercise, a breathing exercise, and journal prompts.
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Month 2
This month, we will focus on understanding the psychological symptoms associated with PTSD and trauma, the importance of eating a balanced and healthy diet, and the transformative power of relaxation techniques. Each week, we will focus on understanding your symptoms, a technique to help manage your symptoms, a self-care activity related to nutrition, a guided relaxation exercise, and journal prompts.
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Month 3
This month, we will focus on understanding the reactive symptoms associated with PTSD and trauma, the importance of rest, and the therapeutic power of visual meditations. Each week, we will focus on understanding your symptoms, a technique to help manage these symptoms, a self-care activity focused on rest, a guided visual meditation, and journal prompts.
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Month 4
This month, we will focus on understanding the psychological associated with PTSD and trauma, the importance of sleep, and the healing power of mindfulness meditations. Each week, we will focus on understanding your symptoms, a technique to help manage these symptoms, a self-care activity related to sleep, a guided mindfulness meditation, and journal prompts.
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Month 5
This month, we will focus on understanding what cues are and how they impact you, the importance of social connection, and the soothing power of rhythmic movement and mindful exercise. Each week, we will focus on understanding your symptoms, a technique to help manage these symptoms, a self-care activity related to connection, a guided rhythmic movement or mindful exercise, and journal prompts.
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Month 6
This month, we will focus on managing symptoms, the importance of celebration, and some additional relaxation techniques. Each week, we will focus on understanding your symptoms, a technique to help manage these symptoms, a self-care activity related to celebration, a relaxation technique, and journal prompts.
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Private: Trauma Recovery Program
About Lesson

Month 3 Week 1


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Reactive Symptoms


Understanding Outbursts.

Outbursts often manifest as sudden and intense emotional reactions that may seem disproportionate to the situation. These reactions can include anger, rage, crying, or other forms of emotional dysregulation. The underlying cause of such outbursts is often rooted in your past traumatic experiences, which have left you with heightened sensitivity to certain triggers. These triggers can be specific (such as reminders of the traumatic event) or more general (like stress or frustration). When these triggers are encountered, they can provoke a fight-or-flight response, resulting in an emotional outburst.

The neurobiological mechanisms of PTSD play a significant role in these outbursts. Trauma can alter brain structures involved in emotional regulation, such as the amygdala, which is responsible for processing fear and emotional responses, and the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in regulating those responses. In individuals with PTSD, the amygdala can become hyperactive, while the prefrontal cortex may be less effective in exerting control over emotional reactions. This imbalance can make it difficult for you to manage your emotions, leading to explosive reactions even in seemingly minor or unrelated situations. One theory suggests that individuals who feel unsafe, particularly as a result of trauma exposure, are more intolerant of uncertainty and perceive more environments as unsafe, potentially due to inhibited stress responses. These individuals may not actively suppress their default stress response, leading to increased susceptibility to emotional outbursts in unsafe environments.

Outbursts related to PTSD are not just a challenge for you but also for your relationships and social interactions. These intense emotional reactions can strain relationships with family, friends, and colleagues, who may not understand the underlying trauma driving these behaviours. You may also feel shame or guilt after an outburst, further complicating your emotional state and potentially exacerbating feelings of isolation and depression.

Coping Toolkit: Connecting to Our Bodily Anxiety


What is Bodily Anxiety?

Anxiety often manifests in our body through sensations like an upset stomach, tight muscles, cold or sweaty palms, headaches, fast breathing, and a rapid or pounding heartbeat. We often try to make these feelings go away by distracting ourselves, staying busy, or avoiding them, which can provide short-term relief. However, by avoiding what our body is telling us, we signal that these physical feelings are dangerous and that reinforces that there is something to be anxious about.

By taking a moment to connect with and listen to our body, we can teach our body that we are present and safe. Emma McAdam suggests practicing the PEACE approach: Present, Explore, Accept, Curious, and Expand. She suggests placing a hand on the area of discomfort, offering support and attention without trying to change the sensation, and treating the area as a cherished friend by taking time to connect with that part of your body eithout judgment  By noticing and acknowledging the sensation, offering compassionate attention, visualizing listening to the sensation as a friend, sending love and appreciation to the body, and imagining handling the feeling with confidence, we can develop a compassionate connection to our bodies, ultimately reducing anxiety. Your body is your friend, and you can listen to it with compassion and warmth.

Try It.

Self-Care Activity: Rest


Understanding Rest.

Rest is crucial for individuals with PTSD as it helps regulate the nervous system, reduces hypervigilance, and improves overall well-being. In PTSD, the body and mind are often in a state of hyperarousal, making it challenging to relax and rest. Including rest in your life involves creating a routine that prioritizes relaxation and downtime. This can include setting aside time for activities that promote rest, such as meditation, gentle yoga, or listening to calming music. It’s also important to practice good sleep hygiene, such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine. Additionally, incorporating restorative activities like nature walks, reading, or spending time with loved ones can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality. 

Try It.

Practice Mindful Movement: Incorporate gentle yoga stretches or mindful walking into your day. These mindful movements not only release physical tension but also bring awareness to the present moment, fostering a sense of peace. These sessions do not have to be a full-hour workout. A 10-minute walk or some stretches before bed could be your mindful movement of choice.

Say “No” To Overcommitment: In our busy lives, it’s easy to take on more than we can handle. Learning to say “no” to non-essential commitments frees up time for rest and self-care. Perhaps set yourself some parameters according to how much you want to commit to on a weekly or monthly basis. For example, if you know that you only want to do one big social activity per week, you know that once you have committed to one, your social diary is full for the week, and you can postpone your other commitments or simply say ‘no thank you.’

Create A Restful Environment: Designate a space in your home for relaxation. Whether it’s a cozy nook with cushions or a serene corner with soft lighting, having a dedicated area for rest will invite calmness into your life.

Incorporate Tiny Moments of Rest: Throughout your day, take brief breaks to breathe deeply, stretch, or simply close your eyes for a minute. These small moments can be incredibly revitalizing, providing a refreshing pause in your busy schedule. Get up from your desk, stretch your legs, sit back in your chair, and take a few deep breaths.

Disconnect from Technology: Give yourself designated tech-free time every day. Unplugging from devices can reduce mental clutter and create space for stillness and rejuvenation. Allowing yourself time to be unreachable and free can allow you time to rest and recharge.

Utilize Guided Relaxation: You’ve learned several breathing practices, yoga and stretching exercises, and relaxation techniques. Incorporate your favourite breathing and relaxation practices into your routine. These practices help soothe your nervous system and induce deep rest, leaving you feeling refreshed and renewed.

Schedule Downtime: Set aside time for leisure activities you enjoy, such as reading, listening to music, or spending time in nature. If you have a written schedule, include your downtime in the schedule. Rest is a priority.

Try Power Naps: A short nap during the day can boost productivity and energy levels. Even if you aren’t able to fall asleep, simply lying down in a comfortable place and resting with your eyes closed can be incredibly refreshing.

Remember, rest is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for your well-being.

Relaxation Technique: Visual Meditations


What is Safe Place Imagery?

Safe Place Imagery is a relaxation technique that you can use to create a mental safe haven. In this practice, you will be guided to imagine a place where you feel completely safe, calm, and at peace. This place can be real or imaginary as long as it evokes feelings of security and comfort. You can use all your senses to fully immerse yourself in this safe place, imagining the sights, sounds, smells, and textures around you. This exercise helps reduce anxiety and stress by providing a mental escape from challenging or distressing situations. It can also be used as a coping mechanism in times of distress, allowing you to quickly access a sense of safety and calmness. Studies have shown that imagining a safe place can effectively regulate emotions, particularly in enhancing positive emotions.

Try It.

Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and gently close your eyes. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, allow yourself to begin to relax. Let go of any tension in your body, and allow yourself to be fully present in this moment.

Start by bringing your attention to your breath. Notice the rhythm of your breathing, the gentle rise and fall of your chest or abdomen. With each breath, feel yourself becoming more relaxed, more at ease. Take a few moments to simply focus on your breath, allowing it to guide you into a state of deep relaxation.

Now, imagine yourself in a place where you feel completely safe and at peace. This could be a place from your past, a place you’ve visited, or a completely imaginary place. Picture yourself there, surrounded by the sights, sounds, and sensations of this safe place.

Notice the details of your safe place. What do you see around you? Are there colours, shapes, or objects that stand out? Take a moment to explore this place with your eyes, taking in all the beauty and tranquillity it offers.

Next, tune into your sense of hearing. What sounds do you hear in your safe place? Is there gentle music playing, the sound of nature, or perhaps complete silence? Allow these sounds to soothe you and deepen your sense of relaxation.

Moving on to your sense of touch, notice the textures around you. Are you sitting on a soft cushion, feeling the warmth of the sun on your skin, or perhaps standing barefoot on cool grass? Feel the sensations in your body as you connect with the tactile elements of your safe place.

Continue to explore your safe place using your sense of smell. Are there any fragrances in the air? Perhaps the scent of flowers, the freshness of the ocean, or the earthy aroma of the forest? Breathe in deeply and allow these scents to calm and rejuvenate you.

As you bask in the comfort and safety of your safe place, know that you can return to this imagery whenever you need to feel calm and grounded. When you are ready, slowly bring your awareness back to the present moment. Wiggle your fingers and toes, gently open your eyes, and take a moment to reflect on how you feel.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources


Tips for Incorporating More Rest Into Your Life – https://healthinhandsspa.com/tips-for-incorporating-more-rest-into-your-life/