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 4 Week 1


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Psychological Symptoms


Understanding Anhedonia.

Anhedonia is a symptom of several mental health disorders, most notably depression and PTSD. It is characterized by a reduced ability to experience pleasure or interest in activities that were previously enjoyable. Studies suggest that anhedonia is a common symptom of PTSD, with individuals with PTSD often reporting reductions in positive emotions and showing deficits in reward-based tasks. Anhedonia can affect various aspects of life, including social interactions, hobbies, and work and is associated with poorer psychosocial functioning and health-related quality of life. It can be a challenging symptom to manage, as it can lead to a lack of motivation and withdrawal from social situations. Research suggests that inflammation impacts brain circuits and symptoms, particularly through its effects on reward-responsive brain regions and dopamine metabolism, which are associated with symptoms of anhedonia and reduced motivation. Theories explaining anhedonia in PTSD suggest inhibited emotional expression, intense stimulation needs, and interference between positive stimuli and negative affect.

Coping Toolkit: Increasing Positive Emotions


The Importance of Positive Emotions.

Positive emotions play a crucial role in health and well-being, influencing social relationships, sleep, exercise, stress levels, depression, and pain resilience. They are linked to better health outcomes, including lower mortality rates and improved cardiovascular health. Positive emotions have also been found to significantly influence resilience by broadening individuals’ mindsets to focus on solutions rather than problems. As such, cultivating positive emotions is essential for overall psychological and physical health.

One technique to increase positive emotions is savouring. Savouring, the ability to attend to, appreciate, and enhance positive experiences, is a key strategy for sustaining and intensifying positive emotions. It involves various strategies that amplify positive feelings, such as positive rumination or sharing positive experiences, thoughts, or ideas with others. Savouring has been linked to greater frequency of positive emotions and is associated with overall happiness. Strategies to enhance savouring include focusing on present positive experiences, anticipating future positive events, and reminiscing about past positive experiences. Research also indicates that mindfulness meditation practices can enhance positive emotion regulation by increasing attention and awareness toward positive experiences.

Try It.

 

Self-Care Activity: Sleep Hygiene


Understanding Sleep Hygiene.

Trauma-exposed populations often experience disrupted sleep, including difficulties initiating and maintaining sleep, recurrent nightmares, and frequent awakenings, at rates higher than the general population. Poor sleep can contribute to the development and persistence of PTSD. The comorbidity of PTSD and sleep disorders is high, with 70 to 91% of individuals with PTSD reporting sleep disturbances such as insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and nightmares. These disturbances contribute to major depression, substance abuse, impaired daytime functioning, negative long-term health consequences, and suicide risk. Inadequate sleep can impact hormonal regulation, metabolic function, cardiovascular health, immune response, brain function, memory consolidation, and psychological well-being.

Patients often prefer non-pharmacological treatments for sleep difficulties, and studies suggest that sleep hygiene is crucial for long-term sleep improvement. Sleep hygiene is a set of practices and habits meant to ensure a restful night’s sleep, helping maintain daytime wakefulness. These practices are designed to promote healthy sleep patterns and regulate your internal body clock. Lifestyle interventions such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, exercising, and managing weight can also improve sleep quality. It is also important to avoid behaviours that can negatively impact sleep, such as consuming caffeine and alcohol close to bedtime, eating large meals before sleep, and using electronic devices with bright screens. Creating a comfortable sleep environment, practicing mindfulness, and following good sleep hygiene practices can also help improve sleep quality. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, and seeking treatment for underlying sleep disorders are crucial for overall health and well-being.

Try It.

Sleep Hygiene Tips:

Routine: Establish a consistent bedtime routine, going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day, even on the weekends.

Light & Temperature: Dim the lights and cool the temperature before bed.

Activities: Avoid stimulating activities before bed (e.g., watching TV, exercising).

Naps: Limit naps during the day to less than 30 minutes.

Screen Time: Reduce screen time before bed.

Caffeine: Avoid caffeine for at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.

Alcohol: Limit alcohol intake.

Food: Avoid heavy, rich, or fatty foods before bed – try a light snack like a banana and peanut butter or a warm glass of milk before bed.

Exercise: Exercise during the day, even just 10 minutes!

Sensory Input: Use earplugs, blackout curtains, or eye masks to reduce light and sound.

Relaxation: Practice relaxation techniques or meditation before bed.

Bed Uses: Only use the bed for sleeping and sex.

Try Again: If you are unable to sleep, get up and do something boring until sleepy.

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

Relaxation Technique: Mindfulness-Meditation Exercises


What is a Body Scan Meditation?

A body scan meditation is a mindfulness practice that involves directing your attention to various parts of your body in a systematic and deliberate manner. Typically performed while lying down or sitting comfortably, the meditation begins by focusing on your breath to help centre your mind. You then slowly shift your attention from one part of the body to another, often starting from the toes and moving upwards to the head or vice versa. As you focus on each area, you observe any sensations, such as tension, warmth, or tingling, without judgment. The goal is to cultivate awareness and acceptance of your bodily sensations, promoting relaxation and helping to release physical and mental stress. Research shows that interoceptive processes can be disturbed in people who have been exposed to trauma. Body scans may improve interoceptive abilities, which is the sensing and processing of internal bodily signals. This offers a way to reconnect with your body and feel grounded in your current situation. Studies have shown that body scanning can improve present moment awareness, nonreactivity, nonjudgmental acceptance, stress reactivity, coping skills, and relaxation in veterans with PTSD

Try It.

Begin by finding a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, where you can relax and remain still for the duration of the meditation.

Close your eyes if it feels comfortable, and begin by taking a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to relax with each exhale.

Now, bring your awareness to your feet. Notice any sensations you may be feeling in your feet—warmth, coolness, tingling, or maybe even nothing at all. Simply observe these sensations without judgment.

Slowly move your awareness up to your ankles, calves, and knees, noticing any sensations in these areas. If you notice any tension, see if you can gently release it with your breath.

Continue to move your awareness up through your thighs, hips, and pelvis, scanning for any sensations and allowing them to be as they are.

Bring your attention to your abdomen and lower back, noticing the rise and fall of your breath in this area. If your mind wanders, gently guide it back to the sensations in your body.

Now, move your awareness to your chest, upper back, and shoulders. Notice any tightness or tension in these areas, and with each breath, see if you can let go a little more.

Scan your awareness down your arms, from your shoulders to your elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands. Notice any sensations in your arms, and allow them to relax with each breath.

Finally, bring your awareness to your neck, throat, face, and head. Notice any areas of tension or relaxation in these areas, and simply observe them without judgment.

Take a few moments to scan your entire body from head to toe, noticing any areas of tension or relaxation. Allow your entire body to relax with each breath, letting go of any remaining tension.

When you’re ready, gently bring your awareness back to the room, wiggle your fingers and toes, and slowly open your eyes.

Take a moment to notice how you feel after completing the body scan meditation, and carry this sense of relaxation and awareness with you as you continue your day.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources


How to Feel Better & Cultivate Positive Emotions