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 1 Week 2


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Intrusive and Avoidant Symptoms


Understanding Nightmares and PTSD

Nightmares are a common and distressing symptom of PTSD, affecting up to 72% of those with the condition. Unlike typical nightmares, PTSD-related nightmares often involve re-experiencing traumatic events, which can significantly disrupt sleep and worsen other PTSD symptoms. Researchers have found that both PTSD and nightmares are linked to altered activity in similar brain regions. This altered brain activity can lead to poor sleep quality, characterized by reduced sleep time and frequent awakenings.

PTSD nightmares are typically vivid and replicative, replaying traumatic events that you may have experienced. These nightmares can be so intense that they cause frequent awakenings, accompanied by prolonged sensations of fear or anxiety, which then can lead to excessive fatigue, irritability, concentration difficulties, and an overall detrimental effect on your quality of life.

Though the exact link between PTSD and nightmares is still unclear, some researchers suggest that nightmares are a way for the brain to process and integrate traumatic memories. This process can be distressing and may involve replaying the trauma in dreams. Changes in brain regions involved in fear response and memory recall, as well as chronic hyperarousal, are believed to contribute to the persistence of PTSD nightmares.

Coping Toolkit: Grounding Image


What is a Grounding Image?

A grounding image is a mental visualization technique used to calm and centre yourself during moments of anxiety, stress, or emotional overwhelm. It involves creating a vivid and detailed mental picture of a place, scene, or memory that makes you feel safe, relaxed, and at peace. The purpose of a grounding image is to shift your focus away from distressing thoughts and feelings, helping you to feel more grounded and present.

To create a grounding image, think of a place, scene, or memory that makes you feel safe, relaxed, and happy. This could be a real place you’ve visited or an imaginary place you’ve created in your mind. As you imagine this place, enrich the image with sensory details. Consider what you can see, hear, smell, feel, and taste in this place. The more vivid and detailed the image, the more effective it will be. As you explore your grounding place, describe the colours, shapes, and objects you see; think about the sounds you hear, such as birds chirping, waves crashing, or leaves rustling; recall any smells, like fresh flowers, salty sea air, or baking cookies in your grounding place; remember how things feel, such as the warmth of the sun, the softness of grass, or the coolness of water; and if applicable, include any tastes, like the sweetness of fruit or the savouriness of a meal.

Ensure the image is personally meaningful and comforting. The stronger the positive emotional connection, the more effectively it reduces anxiety. Spend a few minutes each day visualizing your grounding image. This practice will help you recall the image when you’re feeling anxious.

Grounding techniques work by helping you stay connected to the present moment rather than becoming overwhelmed by past traumatic experiences. They do this by helping you reconnect to and remain in the present moment, reducing the impact of traumatic memories and feelings. By connecting to your senses and focusing your mind on exploring these senses, you reconnect to the present space and time. This can help return your sense of control during distressing moments.

Try it.

If you wake up from a nightmare, stay still in bed and lie quietly. Remind yourself that nightmares are normal when recovering from trauma and that you are safe now. Focus on breathing calmly and slowly. Place your hand on your upper abdomen and feel it rise and fall with each breath. Try counting to 5 as you inhale through your nose and to 5 again as you exhale through your mouth.

After you’ve taken a few calming breaths, bring your grounding image to mind. Focus on the sensory details you’ve created. Picture yourself in that place, experiencing everything as vividly as possible. Imagine what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste in your grounding image, engaging all your senses to fully immerse yourself in the scene. Spend a few minutes exploring your grounding image, allowing yourself to feel the safety and relaxation it provides. Let go of any anxious thoughts and focus solely on the calming sensations of your image. When you’re ready, slowly bring your attention back to the present moment. Open your eyes and take a few more deep breaths. Notice how your body feels calmer and more relaxed.

Tips for Success.

Consistency: Practice daily to strengthen the effectiveness of your grounding image. 

Personalization: Make the image as personal and detailed as possible for maximum comfort and effectiveness.

Flexibility: If needed, create multiple grounding images so you have a variety of calming scenes to choose from.

Self-Care Activity: Physical Exercise


Understanding Strength and Resistance Training.

Strength training, also known as resistance training, involves exercises designed to improve muscular strength and endurance by making muscles work against external resistance, such as weights, resistance bands, or body weight. Key components of strength training include the resistance itself, repetitions (the number of times an exercise is performed in one set), sets (a group of consecutive repetitions), rest periods between sets, and the principle of progressive overload, which involves gradually increasing the weight, frequency, or number of repetitions to continue challenging the muscles.

Research has shown that strength training increases muscle mass and strength, improves bone density, enhances metabolism, which aids in weight management, and strengthens the muscles around joints, thus providing better support and reducing injury risk. Additionally, strength training has significant mental health benefits, such as reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, improving mood, and boosting self-esteem. Importantly, exercise has been found to have a beneficial effect on PTSD symptoms, including positive effects on secondary symptoms such as depressive symptoms, sleep disturbances, and substance use.

Try It.

Note: Before starting any new exercise program, especially after a traumatic event, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness trainer to ensure it is safe for you.

Try starting by performing basic bodyweight exercises 3 days per week, with moderate intensity.

Day 1: Upper Body Focus

1 – Push-Ups: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

2 – Bodyweight Rows (using a sturdy table, bar, or suspension trainer): 3 sets of 8-12 reps

3 – Plank: 3 sets, hold for 30-60 seconds

4 – Tricep Dips: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

5 – Shoulder Taps: 3 sets of 8-12 reps per side

Day 2: Lower Body Focus

1 – Bodyweight Squats: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

2 – Lunges: 3 sets of 8-12 reps per leg

3 – Glute Bridges: 3 sets of 10-15 reps

4 – Calf Raises: 3 sets of 12-15 reps

5 – Wall Sit: 3 sets, hold for 30-60 seconds

Day 3: Full-Body

1 – Burpees: 3 sets of 8-12 reps

2 – Mountain Climbers: 3 sets of 20-30 seconds

3 – Russian Twists: 3 sets of 10-15 reps per side

4 – Superman: 3 sets of 8-12 reps, hold for 1-2 seconds at the top

5 – Bicycle Crunches: 3 sets of 10-15 reps per side

Rest for 1-2 minutes between sets and exercises, and make sure to listen to your body. If an exercise feels too challenging, you can modify it or reduce the number of reps. As you progress, you can increase the number of sets, reps, or difficulty of the exercises.

For further information on bodyweight exercises and how to do them, see the additional resources section.

Relaxation Technique: Breathing Exercises


What is 4-7-8 Breathing?

The 4-7-8 technique is a breathing pattern designed to reduce anxiety and aid in relaxation, and is a type of pranayama, the practice of breath control often used in yoga. Many people find deep, rhythmic breathing relaxing and believe it can assist in easing anxiety and encouraging sleep. The 4-7-8 breathing technique focuses on long, deep breaths, a practice central to meditation and yoga for promoting relaxation. This deep, rhythmic breathing has various benefits, including reducing anxiety, aiding in sleep, managing cravings, and decreasing anger responses.

Try It. 

Begin by sitting or lying down in a comfortable position. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there throughout the exercise. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.

Now, close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven and then exhale completely through your mouth, making a whooshing sound to a count of eight.

Repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths. This technique can be done once or twice daily or as needed to help reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts.

 

Additional Resources


101 Bodyweight Exercises That You Can Do Anywhere –  https://travelstrong.net/bodyweight-exercises/