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 5 Week 1


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Cues


Understanding External Cues.

External cues are environmental or situational triggers that can evoke a traumatic memory or a strong emotional response. These cues can be sensory in nature, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, or physical sensations that resemble aspects of the traumatic event. They can also be contextual, such as specific locations, situations, or activities reminiscent of the traumatic experience. For example, a combat veteran with PTSD may experience heightened anxiety and flashbacks when hearing fireworks, as the sound resembles gunfire. Similarly, a survivor of a car accident may feel intense fear and panic when driving past the site of the accident. These external cues can activate the individual’s fight-or-flight response, leading to symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, and feelings of terror or helplessness. When exposed to external cues that bring up these traumatic memories, individuals with PTSD have higher base heart rates and lower heart rate variability than controls, and those with PTSD remain in a state of arousal after exposure for longer than others. Because we often interpret a racing heart as a reason to be anxious, this racing heart, followed by anxious thoughts, can be a reinforcing cycle. As such, it is vital to address the re-experiencing symptoms in PTSD treatment.

Understanding and identifying external cues is an important part of PTSD treatment and management. By working in therapy to confront and process these cues in a safe and controlled environment, their impact is reduced over time. Learning to recognize and manage external cues can empower you to regain a sense of control over your responses and improve your quality of life.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a therapy technique used to help people who have experienced trauma. It involves recalling distressing memories while focusing on a back-and-forth movement, sound, or sensation, like following the therapist’s finger with your eyes or listening to a sound that alternates between your ears. This process is believed to help your brain reprocess the traumatic memories, making them less distressing over time. EMDR is used to reduce the negative effects of past trauma and improve overall mental health. Many studies have demonstrated that eye movement desensitization and reprocessing is an effective treatment for processing and reducing the effect of traumatic memories associated with PTSD.

If you are interested in EMDR, talk to your recovery team about whether it may be a good fit for you.

Coping Toolkit: Unpairing Fear


What is Unpairing Fear?

When faced with danger, our brain triggers a fight-flight-freeze response to keep us safe. Sometimes, this response can become linked to neutral stimuli, creating triggers that lead to anxiety reactions. These triggers can be anything from everyday objects to thoughts about past trauma. The important thing to know is that once we associate an object, sound, smell, or situation with fear and anxiety, we naturally begin avoiding it. However, avoiding these triggers actually reinforces our anxiety response, making us MORE anxious!

What can we do about it? Facing our triggers in a safe way can rewire our brains to no longer react with anxiety. By gradually exposing ourselves to triggers, and sitting with them, rather than avoiding them, we can relearn that they are safe and can unpair the stimulus from the anxiety response, thus reducing our overall anxiety. This process can involve therapy, writing, or simply sitting with our fears.

Try It.

Self-Care Activity: Connection


Reaching Out.

We rarely talk about loneliness, and sometimes, it makes us think that if we are lonely, there must be something wrong with us. It’s not true, but it does prevent people from acknowledging their loneliness, especially when they are in the company of others. It is also important to know that loneliness is not about being alone; spending time alone can be beneficial for recharging and reconnecting with oneself. Loneliness comes from something deeper: a lack of social connection. Loneliness signals a need for meaningful social interactions, similar to how hunger and thirst indicate the need for sustenance. Loneliness increases the risk of early death and many illnesses.

One theory of why it is so difficult to admit to loneliness and reach out is that feelings of loneliness trigger hypervigilance for social threats and rejection, making us overly sensitive to potential rejection. Brené Brown explains that loneliness amplifies fears and insecurities, causing us to create false stories that reinforce feelings of inadequacy and rejection.

This cycle of expecting rejection can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, increasing the likelihood of actual rejection. In self-preservation mode, empathy decreases, defensiveness increases, and numbing behaviours take over. And all of this operates outside of our conscious awareness. As a result, reaching out is essential in combating loneliness. Connecting with friends, likeminded people, loved ones, and even animals can counteract this negative cycle, decreasing loneliness and increasing your well-being.

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

Try It.

Start with Small Talk: Small talk can help break the ice and make social interactions easier. Try asking the cashier at the supermarket how their day is going or sending a text to a friend. Although it may feel awkward initially, these small interactions can increase your comfort level in social situations.

Say Yes: When we’re feeling lonely, we might decline social invitations out of habit. Challenge yourself to say yes more often, and you might discover that you enjoy these activities more than you expected.

Connect with Like-Minded People: Join clubs or groups related to your interests, such as video games, music, or books. Schools, universities, and community centers often host groups for all types of interests. Therapy groups can also be a wonderful way to increase your social connection with people who’ve faced similar experiences as you.

Go Online: Engaging in online communities or games to connect with like-minded individuals can also be a great way to connect. Online cooperative games, forums, and communities can all help you increase your social connections.

Exercise: Exercise not only reduces stress but also provides opportunities to meet new people. Consider joining beginner-friendly exercise groups or social sports leagues, or go for a walk or run with someone, which can be a low-pressure way to connect.

Volunteer: Volunteering connects you with your community, increases your well-being, and helps combat isolation.

Spend Time with Animals: Pets can provide comfort and reduce feelings of loneliness. If owning a pet isn’t feasible, consider pet-sitting for friends or neighbours, volunteering at an animal shelter, or visiting a dog park to interact with animals.

Relaxation Technique: Rhythmic Movement and Mindful Exercise


What is a Walking Meditation?

Walking meditation is a mindfulness training practice that uses the rhythmic nature of walking to focus attention and enhance concentration. Studies have shown that exercise and meditation positively affect psychological health. By focusing on the act of walking and being present in the moment, meditative walkers can learn to be more accepting and less judgmental, promoting harmony. Studies show that a 10-minute session of walking and 10 minutes of meditation improves fatigue and significantly enhances overall mood. This suggests that walking meditation is effective for both a quick mood and energy boost.

Try It.

To begin a walking meditation, choose a quiet location, such as a park, garden, or peaceful street, where you can walk without many distractions. Set an intention for your meditation, whether it’s to connect with nature, clear your mind, or simply enjoy walking. Start by taking a few deep breaths to center your mind and prepare for the practice. Walk slowly and mindfully, paying attention to each step, feeling the ground beneath your feet, and noticing the movement of your legs and body. Engage your senses by being aware of your surroundings, listening to sounds, observing sights, feeling the breeze on your skin, and noticing any smells. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your focus back to the act of walking and your breathing, maintaining a gentle, non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts and feelings as they come and go. As you conclude your walking meditation, take a moment to reflect on the experience and express gratitude for the time you’ve spent. Walking meditation can be a calming and grounding practice, offering benefits such as reduced stress, improved mood, and increased mindfulness. It is versatile and accessible, adaptable to different schedules and environments, making it a valuable practice for enhancing overall well-being.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources


How Loneliness Impacts the Immune System –