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 2


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Reactive Symptoms


Understanding Reckless and Destructive Behaviours.

Reckless and self-destructive behaviours are manifestations of the distress and dysregulation experienced by individuals with PTSD and trauma exposure. PTSD can profoundly affect your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours, leading to a range of coping mechanisms that may not always be adaptive. Reckless behaviour can stem from a desire to escape or numb overwhelming emotions or memories associated with the traumatic event. It may also reflect a diminished sense of self-worth or a feeling of being disconnected from your own life and future, leading to a lack of concern for your safety or well-being.

Self-destructive behaviour, on the other hand, can manifest as actions that pose harm or risk to yourself, often as a way to cope with intense emotional pain or as a form of self-punishment. This behaviour can include substance abuse, risky sexual behaviour, self-harm, or even suicidal thoughts or actions. These behaviours may offer a temporary sense of relief or control, they can also increase feelings of guilt, shame, and hopelessness.

Reckless and self-destructive behaviours often occur more frequently in military personnel than in civilians and pose significant concerns, including higher suicide rates and increased incarceration for violent offences among veterans. Excessive alcohol consumption, pathological gambling, reckless driving, aggression, and self-harm are prevalent reckless and self-destructive behaviours in veterans. One study suggested that PTSD symptoms may deplete an individual’s ability to regulate their thoughts, emotions, and actions, leading to reckless and self-destructive behaviours as coping strategies. Another study found that reckless and self-destructive behaviours were strongly related to PTSD symptoms, particularly externalizing behaviours, such as anger, aggression, defiance, vandalism, and anhedonia, which is an inability to feel pleasure. It’s important to remember that reckless and self-destructive behaviours in PTSD are not deliberate choices but often reflect the profound psychological impact of trauma.

Coping Toolkit: Behavioural Activation


What is Behavioural Activation?

Because anhedonia (the inability to enjoy things) leads to a pattern of avoiding activities due to a lack of interest or perceived lack of energy, behavioural activation can help you gradually reintroduce these activities, which can help break the cycle of avoidance and increase feelings of motivation and pleasure. Engaging in enjoyable activities can provide a sense of accomplishment and pleasure, serving as positive reinforcement. Over time, this can help you experience more positive emotions and reduce feelings of anhedonia. Further, by focusing on activities that are meaningful and enjoyable, you can learn to regulate your mood more effectively. Engaging in pleasurable activities can help improve overall mood and reduce feelings of sadness and apathy.

Evidence suggests that behavioural activation may normalize reward-related deficits, offering a novel approach to treating anhedonia. Psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioural therapy and behavioural activation, has also demonstrated benefits for anhedonia. Because it specifically targets behaviours contributing to depressive symptoms, it is particularly effective for addressing anhedonia. Studies have found behavioural activation showed significant improvements in depressive symptoms, particularly in anhedonia.

Try It.

First, watch this video explaining behavioural activation to ensure you are confident in your understanding.

Next, download a behavioural activation worksheet here. You are ready to begin trying out activities you value, that you used to enjoy, that bring a sense of purpose, or that may boost your mood, and tracking how they make you feel. Remember, you are experimenting with behaviours that may lead to improved mood – not every activity will work, and that is okay. Keep trying until you find what makes you feel good.

Self-Care Activity: Rest


Understanding Emotional Rest.

Emotional rest refers to the practice of intentionally pausing and rejuvenating your emotional state. It involves recognizing and honouring your feelings without judgment, allowing yourself to step back from stressful or emotionally draining situations. Emotional rest can include activities that promote relaxation, such as mindfulness, meditation, or engaging in hobbies that bring joy. It also involves setting boundaries to protect your emotional well-being and seeking support from others when needed. By practicing emotional rest, you can recharge and restore your emotional energy, leading to a greater sense of well-being and resilience in coping with life’s challenges.

Try It.

To experience more emotional rest, it’s important to set clear boundaries around your time and energy by saying no to draining commitments and making time for activities that replenish you. Engaging in activities that bring you joy, disconnecting from technology, and practicing self-compassion are also crucial. Seeking support from friends, family, or professionals when needed can help you process your emotions and maintain emotional well-being. Additionally, you can take concrete steps such as spending time alone, avoiding stressful situations, talking to a trusted friend, practicing self-care, such as taking a hot bath or shower, taking time to read, practicing your breathing or meditation techniques, taking your dog for a walk, or spending time in nature. For a deeper exploration, meeting with a counsellor or starting an emotions journal can be beneficial in understanding and managing your emotions. Taking care of your emotional health regularly can prevent emotional exhaustion and help you find the daily emotional rest you need.

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

Relaxation Technique: Visual Meditations


What is Guided Meditation?

A guided meditation is a form of meditation where you are led through a series of mental images and instructions by a trained practitioner, teacher, or through a recorded audio or video. The guide helps you visualize relaxing scenes or sensations, and directs your focus to various aspects of your experience, such as breathing patterns, bodily sensations, or emotional states. This form of meditation is often used for relaxation, stress reduction, and mindfulness training. The guide may also introduce themes or concepts for contemplation, such as gratitude, compassion, or self-awareness. Guided meditations can vary widely in length and complexity, making them accessible to beginners as well as experienced meditators seeking specific outcomes.

Studies have reported significant improvements in PTSD symptoms with meditation-based interventions. Further, research suggests that living near or regularly interacting with nature can benefit health and well-being. Importantly, research indicates that exposure to waterscapes can reduce stress and depression, increase physical activity and social engagement, and improve overall mental health. As such, we will be combining meditation with waterscapes today in a guided beach meditation.

Try It.

Find a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and gently close your eyes.

Begin by taking a deep breath in, filling your lungs with fresh, invigorating air, and exhale slowly, letting go of any tension or stress.

Imagine yourself standing on a beautiful, sandy beach. Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin and the gentle breeze blowing through your hair. Listen to the soothing sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the shore.

As you continue to breathe deeply, take in the sights and sounds around you. Notice the vastness of the ocean, stretching out as far as the eye can see. Watch as the waves rhythmically roll in and out, creating a calming and peaceful atmosphere.

With each breath, feel yourself becoming more relaxed and at ease. Let go of any worries or concerns, allowing them to be carried away by the ocean breeze.

Now, focus your attention on your breathing. As you inhale, imagine the ocean breeze filling your lungs with fresh, clean air. And as you exhale, imagine releasing any tension or negativity, letting it dissolve into the air around you.

Continue to breathe deeply and slowly, allowing the rhythm of the waves to synchronize with your breath. Feel a sense of peace and tranquillity washing over you, like the gentle waves lapping at the shore.

Take a moment to appreciate the beauty and serenity of this place. Feel grateful for this moment of calm and relaxation.

When you are ready, slowly bring your awareness back to the present moment. Wiggle your fingers and toes, and gently open your eyes.

Remember, you can return to this peaceful beach anytime you need to relax and unwind. Enjoy the rest of your day, feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources 


The real reason why we are tired and what to do about it –