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 2


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Psychological Symptoms


Understanding Guilt and Shame.

A variety of emotions, including anger, guilt, and shame, alongside fear and anxiety, are central to the development and maintenance of PTSD. Self-evaluative emotions like pride, guilt, and shame come from comparing our actions or identity to our internalized standards. Pride happens when we meet these standards, feeling good about ourselves. Guilt and shame, on the other hand, come when we don’t meet these standards, feeling bad about our actions or identity. Guilt, in particular, has been consistently linked to PTSD symptoms, with studies showing a positive correlation between combat-related guilt and PTSD severity. Trauma-related guilt involves distress and guilt-related thoughts, such as perceived responsibility for negative outcomes and moral injury. Studies have found that guilt contributes to the development of PTSD phenomena such as intrusive thoughts. Cognitive models of PTSD suggest that maladaptive appraisals, including guilt and shame, contribute to the development and maintenance of PTSD by creating a sense of current threat.

Combat situations often involve ethically ambiguous circumstances that can lead to moral injury if veterans perceive their actions as conflicting with their deeply held beliefs. This moral injury manifests as guilt when veterans negatively evaluate specific behaviours and as shame when they view these behaviours as reflective of a defective self. Further, shame has been linked to social threat and has significant psychophysiological effects. Research shows that both dispositional and trauma-related shame are associated with PTSD symptoms, particularly in cases of interpersonal violence and among military personnel. Trauma-related shame is intensified by social reactions and PTSD symptoms, creating a cycle that is challenging to break. Shame maintains PTSD symptoms by interfering with trauma memory processing and reducing access to social support.

Empirical evidence consistently links shame with PTSD, highlighting its pathological nature, which promotes defensiveness, self-concealment, and social withdrawal. Guilt, on the other hand, though related to PTSD, depression, and suicidal ideation, can function adaptively in non-traumatic contexts by motivating reparative actions. However, in trauma survivors, especially those in combat, guilt often transforms into shame.

Coping Toolkit: Self-Compassion


What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion, the ability to treat oneself with kindness and understanding during challenging times, has been associated with improved mental health outcomes. Self-compassion is not self-pity or self-indulgence; instead, it cultivates emotional resilience and well-being. Also, it differs from self-esteem, providing stable self-worth without the need for superiority or comparisons. Self-compassion includes self-kindness, or being gentle and understanding with oneself during difficult times, as opposed to self-judgment; common humanity, or recognizing that everyone experiences struggles and imperfections, fostering a sense of connection rather than isolation; and mindfulness, or facing unpleasant experiences with equanimity, without avoiding or amplifying them. Studies show that higher levels of self-compassion are linked to reduced symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Self-compassion has also consistently shown links to positive mental health, including decreased psychopathology and increased well-being. Studies have also highlighted its role in resilience during life stressors like divorce, combat, and health issues, as well as its benefits in areas such as body image, motivation, and interpersonal relationships. Self-compassion fosters motivation, resilience, and health, benefiting individuals across cultures and ages. Enhancing self-compassion has also been linked to lower PTSD symptom severity by mitigating self-criticism and shame.

Try It.

Practice self-care: Take care of your basic needs, such as getting enough sleep, eating nourishing meals, and engaging in regular physical activity.

Speak kindly to yourself: Replace self-critical thoughts with gentle and encouraging words. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend in a similar situation.

Take breaks: Allow yourself to rest and recharge when you need to. Breaks can help prevent burnout and improve overall well-being.

Set boundaries: Learn to say no to things that drain your energy or cause you stress. Prioritize your own needs and well-being.

Practice mindfulness: Stay present in the moment and observe your thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness can help you cultivate self-compassion.

Forgive yourself: Let go of past mistakes and failures. Understand that everyone makes mistakes, and they do not define your worth.

Seek support: Reach out to friends, family, or a therapist for support when you’re struggling. You don’t have to go through difficult times alone.

Celebrate your accomplishments: Acknowledge and celebrate even small achievements. Recognize your efforts and progress.

Engage in activities you enjoy: Do things that bring you joy and fulfillment. It’s important to make time for activities that nourish your soul.

Practice gratitude: Focus on the positive aspects of your life and express gratitude for them. Gratitude can help shift your perspective and improve your mood.

Self-Care Activity: Sleep


Understanding Restful Environments.

Creating a bedroom environment that promotes healthy sleep is crucial for overall well-being. Recent data suggest that adult males need 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night while females need about 8 to 10 hours per night. Regular sleep timing is important for positive sleep outcomes.

Factors such as noise, temperature, light, and air quality play significant roles in sleep quality. Exposure to noise above 35 dB can disrupt sleep, with intermittent noise being more disruptive than continuous noise. Ambient temperature should be maintained between 17 to 28°C with relative humidity between 40 to 60% for optimal sleep. Changes in temperature and humidity outside these ranges can negatively impact sleep quality. Insulating materials and bedding can help maintain thermoneutrality and improve sleep quality. Light exposure, particularly in the evening, can disrupt the circadian rhythm, leading to delays in sleep onset and shifts in the timing of melatonin release. Blue light, in particular, has a strong effect on the circadian system, suppressing melatonin and altering sleep architecture. In contrast, exposure to red light before bed may improve sleep quality. Morning light exposure can improve sleep quality and reduce night waking. Light pollution, even from low-level sources like nightlights, can disrupt sleep. Regarding air quality, poor ventilation and high CO2 levels can disrupt sleep, while oxygen enrichment may benefit individuals at high altitudes. As such, recommendations for optimal sleep environments include eliminating light, maintaining comfortable temperatures, ensuring adequate ventilation, minimizing noise, and maintaining optimal temperature and humidity levels, which can significantly enhance sleep quality.

Try It.

Colour tones: Choose cool tones like blues and greens for your bedroom walls to promote relaxation and calmness.

Use of essential oils: To create a soothing atmosphere, use a diffuser with calming scents like lavender or neroli.

Avoid mirrors: According to Feng Shui, mirrors in the bedroom can disrupt sleep. Try to keep them out of the bedroom or cover them at night.

Eliminate light: Cover or turn away electronic devices that emit light to minimize disturbances while sleeping.

Use breathable bedding: Opt for breathable cotton or bamboo sheets, especially in warmer months, to regulate body temperature and improve comfort.

Use comfortable bedding: Ensure your mattress and pillows provide adequate support for a comfortable sleep.

Lower the temperature: For optimal sleep, keep your bedroom cool, ideally between the lower and mid-60s Fahrenheit (15.5 to 18 degrees Celsius).

Declutter: A clean and organized bedroom can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.

Keep it quiet: Use white noise machines, a fan, or earplugs to block out ambient noise and create a peaceful environment.

Minimize activities: Use your bedroom only for sleep or intimate activities to create a strong association with rest.

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

Relaxation Technique: Mindfulness-Mediation Exercises


What is Loving Kindness Meditation?

Loving-kindness meditation is a practice that involves cultivating feelings of compassion, love, and kindness towards oneself and others. It typically begins with directing these feelings towards oneself, then towards loved ones, acquaintances, and eventually towards all beings. Practitioners often repeat phrases or mantras that express these sentiments, such as “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I live with ease.” The practice aims to cultivate a sense of benevolence and goodwill, fostering feelings of connection and empathy towards others.

One study suggests that loving-kindness meditation could be a beneficial treatment for PTSD among veterans, reducing PTSD and depressive symptoms at a 6-month follow-up. Another study showed that loving kindness mediation is associated with increases in day-to-day positive emotions over time and that longer practice was associated with lower negative emotions on those days. By cultivating kind intentions toward oneself and others, this type of meditation enhances positive emotions and reduces negative emotional states. Further, life satisfaction, an overall evaluation of life, can be enhanced by loving-kindness and compassion meditations, by promoting self-compassion and positive emotions. In another fascinating study, daily practice of loving-kindness meditation was shown to be protective against biological indicators of aging.

Try It.

Find a comfortable and quiet place to sit or lie down. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind.

Begin by focusing on yourself. Silently repeat phrases such as, “May I be happy. May I be healthy. May I be safe. May I live with ease.” Repeat these phrases several times, allowing yourself to truly feel the intentions behind the words.

Now, think of someone you love deeply, such as a family member or close friend. Picture their face in your mind and send them loving-kindness by repeating phrases like, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live with ease.” Repeat these phrases for a few moments, feeling the warmth and love you have for this person.

Next, think of someone you have neutral feelings towards, perhaps a coworker or acquaintance. Repeat the same phrases for this person, wishing them happiness, health, safety, and ease.

Finally, think of someone you may have difficulty with or who has caused you pain. This can be challenging, but try to extend loving-kindness to this person as well. Repeat the phrases, “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be safe. May you live with ease.” Allow yourself to let go of any negative feelings towards this person and instead, focus on sending them positive intentions.

To conclude, expand your loving-kindness to include all beings. Repeat the phrases, “May all beings be happy. May all beings be healthy. May all beings be safe. May all beings live with ease.” Sit quietly for a moment, feeling the love and compassion flowing from your heart to all living beings.

When you’re ready, gently open your eyes and take a few more deep breaths. Notice how you feel after practicing loving-kindness meditation, and carry this feeling of compassion and goodwill with you throughout your day.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources


Elevate Vagal Tone with this Self-Compassion Exercise –