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 4


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Reactive Symptoms


Understanding Hypervigilance.

Hypervigilance is a state of heightened alertness and sensitivity to potential threats, commonly seen in individuals who have experienced trauma or suffer from PTSD. It involves a constant scanning of the environment for danger, expecting something bad to happen, and reacting intensely to potential threats, even when there is no real danger present. While it can serve a survival function, excessive hypervigilance is maladaptive, leading to cognitive and behavioural issues like attentional bias, memory impairment, and emotional dysregulation, and it perpetuates anxiety disorders and PTSD.

Biologically, trauma can alter the brain’s response to stress, particularly affecting the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. The amygdala, responsible for fear responses, becomes overactive, while the hippocampus, which processes memories, can shrink and function improperly. The prefrontal cortex, involved in decision-making and emotional regulation, may become less effective in controlling fear responses. These changes lead to an overactive stress response system, where the brain continuously signals the body to remain on high alert, contributing to hypervigilance.

Hypervigilance can significantly disrupt daily life. Due to your constant state of alertness, you may have trouble sleeping, and your ability to focus on tasks can be impaired. This can lead to difficulties at work or school and interfere with relationships, as you may seem distant, distracted, or overly cautious to others. The need to ensure safety can result in behaviours such as frequently checking locks, avoiding certain places or situations, and always positioning oneself to have a clear view of exits.

Triggers for hypervigilance often include reminders of the traumatic event, such as specific sounds, smells, or places. These triggers can provoke intense fear, anxiety, or even panic attacks. The response to these triggers is typically disproportionate to the actual level of threat, further reinforcing the cycle of hypervigilance. The constant anticipation of danger can be exhausting and overwhelming, making it difficult for individuals to relax and feel secure.

Studies have shown that individuals with PTSD often exhibit biased attention toward negative or threatening stimuli, including emotional words, faces, and images, also showing difficulties in disengaging from threat-related stimuli. One study noted that trauma exposure alone may bias attention towards trauma-relevant stimuli, whereas PTSD extends this bias to include general threatening and negative stimuli. Hypervigilance is linked to higher blood pressure, likely due to stress-response pathways. Understanding hypervigilance as a common symptom of trauma and PTSD can help you understand your reactions and normalize your experiences. Addressing hypervigilance and reducing its intensity and frequency can significantly improve your quality of life.

Coping Technique: The Balloon Man Technique


What is the Balloon Man Technique?

The balloon man technique is a mindfulness activity designed to help individuals pause and release stress, tension, and difficult emotions. Though it was designed for children, it is a wonderfully quick, easy way to take a moment, get in touch with your body, and release anxious thoughts and feelings. By combining elements of deep breathing, visualization, and gentle physical movement, this technique can help you become more aware of the tension in your body and learn how to release it, promoting relaxation and mindfulness.

Try It.

Visualization: First, stand up, with your feel hips width apart, and close your eyes. Imagine that your body is a balloon slowly being filled with air.

Inflation: Gradually raise your arms and stand on your tiptoes as if you are inflating with air. Take deep, thoughtful breaths as you do this, imagining the air filling your body.

Full Inflation: Once you are fully inflated with your arms raised high and standing on tiptoes, hold that position for a moment, and focus on feeling the tension in your body.

Deflation: Next, slowly release the air by exhaling deeply and bringing your arms down and your feet flat on the ground. As you do this, visualize the air slowly leaving your body, taking away any stress or tension. Allow your neck to gently fall forward and move it back and forth, releasing the tension you’ve been holding.

Repeat: This process can be repeated several times, inflating and deflating your balloon body, while paying close attention to the sensations in your body and the calming effect of deep breathing.

After the activity, sit down and take a moment to reflect on how your body feels. Do you feel more relaxed or more present? Where did you notice the most tension, and how did it feel to release it?

Self-Care Activity: Rest


Understanding Sensory Rest.

In our fast-paced world filled with constant stimulation, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by constant stimuli and experience sensory overload. Often, we acclimatize to burdensome stimuli in our environments, such as industrial noise, synthetic fragrances, or excessive screen time, without realizing their impact on our well-being. This overstimulation leads to a low tolerance for additional sensory input, impacting our well-being and relationships. As such, sensory overload occurs when our senses receive more input than our brains can process, leading to symptoms like irritability, anxiety, and physical discomfort.

Sensory rest is particularly important for individuals who may be sensitive to sensory stimuli or those who experience sensory overload. Utilizing sensory rest is crucial for managing sensory overload, akin to hitting the reset button for our brains. It’s vital to recognize and care for our senses, as they can bring both joy and exhaustion to our lives.

Sensory rest involves reducing or eliminating sensory stimuli, such as noise, bright lights, strong smells, and other inputs that can be overwhelming.  By intentionally reducing environmental stimuli, we can help manage overwhelm. Given this, addressing sensory fatigue involves identifying burdensome inputs and taking steps to reduce them, like using ear protection in noisy environments or wearing blue light glasses for screen fatigue.

Because of the impact of sensory inputs on self-regulation, anxiety, and felt-safety, attending to one’s sensory system can lead to improved connection and function. Sensory rest, then, can help promote relaxation, reduce stress, anxiety, and fatigue, and improve focus and concentration, allowing our brains to unwind and recharge for improved well-being. 

Try It.

There are many ways to reduce sensory stimuli and indulge in sensory rest. Below are a few ideas. Feel free to add your own sensory rest ideas to this week’s practice. Pay attention to when you are feeling overwhelmed and to how you feel when you engage in sensory rest.

Sound: Spend time in a quiet, dimly lit room; use earplugs or headphones to block out noise; turn the volume down; and avoid or limit noisy, overcrowded areas.

Sight: Unplug from devices and limit your screen time; dim the lights; avoid fluorescent lights; wear sunglasses; and use eye masks for a full rest from sight.

Smell: Open a window for fresh air; switch to unscented, non-toxic cleaning products; limit time in areas with many or strong scents (such as the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store); ask loved ones to reduce or eliminate strongly scented products; and limit your use of strongly scented personal hygiene products.

Taste: Avoid processed or over-flavoured foods; pay attention to specific flavours or spices that you find overpowering and limit their use; avoid or limit eating very hot and very cold foods; and pay attention to food texture and limit consumption of textures that you find overwhelming.

Touch: Communicate with loved ones about types of touch you enjoy and types that you find overwhelming; wear loose, comfortable clothing; avoid clothing that is itchy or has irritating tags; take a relaxing bath or shower; and pay attention to textures that you find irritating and avoid or limit contact with them.

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

Relaxation Technique: Visual Meditations


What is Creative Visualization?

Meditation techniques are increasingly used for psychological well-being and are seen as a powerful tool for spiritual and psychological growth. Creative visualization meditation involves using your imagination to create a mental image or scenario depicting a specific goal, outcome, or desired state. It is also a relaxation technique that involves using these images to achieve relaxation and reduce anxiety. It can also be used to visualize success, improve memory, and enhance cognitive functions. Visualization works by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body and mind relax.

During a creative visualization meditation, you will focus on your desired image, often incorporating all your senses to make it as vivid and real as possible. The goal is to immerse oneself in this mental creation, engaging emotions and beliefs as if the desired outcome has already been achieved. This practice is believed to enhance motivation, reduce stress, and help you manifest your goals by aligning your subconscious mind with your conscious desires. It can also serve as a mental rehearsal for important events, helping to increase optimism and build resilience.

Try It.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources


How to Create a Vision for the Life You Want to Live – https://camillestyles.com/wellness/how-to-create-a-vision/