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 4


Health Literacy Focus: Understanding Intrusive and Avoidant Symptoms


Understanding Distress Tolerance.

Distress tolerance is your perceived or actual ability to endure negative or unpleasant emotional or physical states. It is important in understanding and treating PTSD, as it can influence how each of us responds to trauma. It is seen as a factor that can either increase risk for or protect against PTSD. Research has suggested that low distress tolerance might make someone more prone to developing PTSD after a traumatic event, as they may struggle to cope with distress. However, distress tolerance levels can also change after a traumatic event, either decreasing or increasing depending on the individual, and distress tolerance and PTSD symptoms may also influence each other. In Emotion in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, they noted that among military veterans, perceived distress tolerance is consistently negatively correlated with PTSD symptoms, meaning that as your ability to tolerate distress increases, your PTSD symptoms decrease.

Coping Toolkit: TIPP


What is TIPP?

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, a distress tolerance skill called TIPP can help bring you back from the brink. TIPP stands for Temperature, Intense exercise, Paced breathing, and Paired muscle relaxation.

Try It.

Temperature: When you’re upset, your body often feels hot. To counter this, splash your face with cold water, hold an ice cube, or sit in front of a fan. Changing your body temperature can help you cool down both physically and emotionally.

Intense Exercise: Match your intense emotions with intense physical activity. You don’t have to be a marathon runner; just sprint down the street, swim a few laps, or do some jumping jacks. Increasing oxygen flow can reduce stress levels, and it is hard to stay upset when you’re exhausted.

Paced Breathing: Controlling your breath can significantly reduce emotional pain. Try the box breathing technique we learned in week 1: inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and hold for four seconds. Focus on this pattern until you feel calmer, as steady breathing reduces your body’s fight-or-flight response.

Paired Muscle Relaxation: This technique involves tightening a muscle group for five seconds and then releasing it to relax. Relaxed muscles require less oxygen, so your breathing and heart rate slow down. Try this with your arms or legs, and feel yourself relax as the muscles do.

Self-Care Activity: Physical Activity


Understanding Time in Nature.

Time in nature as a form of therapy involves spending time outside to improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being. There are incredible benefits in connecting with the natural world for your health. Nature therapy can take various forms, such as outdoor activities, gardening, hiking, or simply spending time in natural environments like parks, forests, or gardens. Being in nature can reduce stress, improve mood, increase feelings of relaxation, and enhance overall quality of life. It is often used as a complementary or alternative therapy for mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

One study found that veterans engaging in nature therapy experienced changes in their lives, including decreased mental health symptoms and a sense of control over distress; relationships with comrades and family were improved; participants gained hope for a positive future; and bodily reactions, such as pain and arousal, were reduced. In another study, participants with PTSD who participated in a sailing adventure showed decreased PTSD and anxiety symptoms.

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.

There are so many ways to get outside and enjoy nature. Below is a list of ideas. Choose two or three activities to try this week, aiming to spend a minimum of 30 minutes outdoors each time.

Hiking – Picnicking – Gardening – Birdwatching – Camping – Fishing – Cycling – Running or jogging – Playing sports, such as soccer, basketball, tennis – Yoga or meditation – Walking your Dog – Swimming – Kayaking or canoeing – Rock climbing – Photography – Stargazing – Nature walks – Beachcombing – Outdoor fitness classes – Visiting parks and nature reserves – Horseback riding – Having a BBQ or cookout – Geocaching – Rock hunting – Painting or drawing outdoors – Exploring botanical gardens – Flying kites – Participating in outdoor festivals and events – Drinking a soothing warm drink or reading a book outside – Volunteering for environmental cleanups

Relaxation Technique: Breathing Exercises


What is Diaphragmatic Breathing?

Diaphragmatic breathing, also known as abdominal or deep breathing, is a technique that involves fully engaging the diaphragm when breathing. This type of breathing is often used to promote relaxation and reduce stress. It is commonly used in practices such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness and is recommended for managing conditions such as anxiety and panic attacks. Because diaphragmatic breathing involves consciously engaging the diaphragm during breathing, it increases lung capacity and efficiency, facilitating slow respiration, improving ventilation for oxygen and reducing alveolar dead space.

One study found that diaphragmatic breathing practice can improve cognitive function, reduce negative affect, and modulate physiological responses to stress. These findings support the use of diaphragmatic breathing as a standalone intervention for improving emotional well-being and attention in healthy individuals. Another study showed that diaphragmatic breathing affects heart rate, blood pressure, and blood volume and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which makes us calm, while suppressing the sympathetic nervous system, which makes us alert. As such, it can be a valuable tool in reducing stress and improving overall well-being.

Try It. 

To perform diaphragmatic breathing, start by finding a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down, and relaxing your shoulders while placing one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen. Inhale deeply through your nose, focusing on making your abdomen rise more than your chest, indicating the use of your diaphragm to fill your lungs with air. Exhale slowly through your mouth, gently pressing on your abdomen to expel as much air as possible from your lungs. Repeat this pattern of deep inhalation and slow exhalation for several minutes, concentrating on the rise and fall of your abdomen.

Journal


Weekly Journal Prompts:

 

Additional Resources