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 3


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Intrusive and Avoidant Symptoms


Understanding Avoidance

Avoidance symptoms are a significant aspect of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These symptoms can manifest as efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings related to the traumatic event, as well as avoiding external reminders such as people, places, or activities that bring the event to mind. While this may avoid distress in the current moment, this anxious avoidance cycle can actually exacerbate the problem. When we encounter something that triggers anxiety, it leads to a cascade of mental and physical symptoms, such as racing thoughts and a fast heart rate. These distressing sensations are unpleasant, prompting us to naturally try to avoid them. By successfully avoiding the triggers, we gain short-term relief from the discomfort; however, this avoidance teaches our brains that these triggers and the sensations they provoke are dangerous and intolerable, reinforcing the cycle and making it more difficult to confront and manage our emotions over time.

Emotional avoidance, another common reaction to trauma, involves evading painful emotions through actions like substance use or dissociation. While avoidance may offer short-term relief, it often exacerbates symptoms over time, as it requires considerable effort to suppress emotions. This behaviour can cause emotional numbing, making it difficult for you to experience positive emotions or maintain interest in activities you once enjoyed. Consequently, avoidance can significantly interfere with daily functioning and relationships, as it may prevent you from confronting and processing your traumatic experiences, ultimately prolonging your distress and impairing your overall quality of life.

Coping Toolkit: Cognitive Behavioural Therapy


What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic treatment designed to help individuals understand the thoughts and feelings that influence their behaviours, commonly used to treat mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The core principles of CBT include a cognitive component, which focuses on identifying and challenging cognitive distortions to replace negative thoughts with more positive ones, and a behavioural component, which involves techniques like behavioural activation, exposure therapy, and skills training to manage symptoms and improve mood. CBT is practical, empowering, and versatile, helping you make meaningful changes in thought patterns and behaviours, thereby improving your mental health and overall well-being.

Research indicates that cognitive distortions, such as perceiving the world as dangerous and feeling powerless, are common in PTSD and impact self-esteem and relationships. CBT, which focuses on changing how you think and behave, addresses these distortions and the lack of control experienced in traumatic situations. It has been effective in adults with PTSD. In one study, cognitive therapy effectively reduced symptoms of chronic PTSD, depression, and anxiety. In another study, four years post-treatment, CBT patients exhibited fewer PTSD symptoms, especially less avoidance, than those who received supportive counselling.

Tips for Success.

CBT can empower you to cope in a healthy way and improve your overall well-being. To maximize the benefits of CBT, approach it as a partnership, actively participating and sharing in decision-making with your therapist. Agreeing on major issues and how to tackle them, setting goals, and assessing progress together are crucial. Being open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences is essential, even if discussing certain topics is painful or embarrassing. Stick to your treatment plan, attend all sessions, and think about what you want to discuss, even when you feel unmotivated. Understand that improvement takes time, and it’s normal to feel worse initially as you confront your trauma and struggles. Completing homework assignments between sessions, such as reading or journaling, will help reinforce what you learn. If you feel therapy isn’t helping after several sessions, discuss this with your therapist to consider adjustments or alternative approaches.

Self-Care Activity: Physical Exercise


Understanding Yoga.

Yoga is a practice that originated in ancient India and includes physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines. It encompasses a variety of practices and techniques, including physical postures (asanas), breathing exercises (pranayama), and meditation. The main goal of yoga is to achieve a state of harmony and balance between the mind, body, and spirit. It is often used for physical health and fitness, stress relief, relaxation, and spiritual growth. Yoga is now practiced worldwide and has evolved into different styles and approaches, each emphasizing different aspects of the practice. 

Research has found reductions in PTSD symptoms, anxiety, depression, and stress for participants. One study suggests that yoga can improve interoception, the ability to sense and understand the internal state of your body, which may be an important mechanism for reducing PTSD symptoms. Another study found evidence of significant effects of yoga on PTSD symptoms, particularly resulting from the physical postures involved.

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.

Relaxation Technique: Breathing Exercises


What is a Rhythmic Breathing Meditation?

Rhythmic breathing meditation is a mindfulness practice that focuses on regulating the breath in a rhythmic pattern to promote relaxation, calmness, and focus. It involves breathing in a controlled, steady rhythm, often with equal durations for inhalation, exhalation, and pauses in between. This type of meditation is believed to help calm the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve overall well-being by syncing the breath with a rhythmic pattern, which can have a soothing effect on the nervous system.

Rhythmic breathing practices have been found to reduce the levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone, while increasing the release of prolactin, which reduces fear and anxiety; have positive effects on hypertension, reducing diastolic blood pressure and markers of oxidative stress in hypertensive patients; be beneficial in treating depression; reduce symptoms of PTSD; and reduce stress and pain perception.

Try It. 

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources


8 Yoga Poses to Help Trauma Survivors –  https://www.yogajournal.com/practice/yoga-sequences/8-yoga-poses-to-help-heal-trauma/