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Power of Play—Part 2

Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Power of Play—Part 2

#20

Power of Play—Part 2

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Power of Play—Part 2

While many survivors may not have had the opportunity to experience the joys of play as children, it is possible to rediscover play—and its many benefits—as an adult.
Download this resource (PDF)

#20

Power of Play—Part 2

While many survivors may not have had the opportunity to experience the joys of play as children, it is possible to rediscover play—and its many benefits—as an adult.
Download this resource (PDF)
Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

Group Activity

Rediscovering Play

This activity gives you the opportunity to explore what play might look like for you now as an adult. Remember that play is always changing, and what may work for you one day may not work another day. That’s okay. What matters most is finding or rediscovering which activities best meet your needs in the present, including your need to connect, to laugh, to explore and create, and to simply be.

Activity steps

01

Take some time to reflect on the following questions from the video:

  • What brings me joy and delight?
  • What helps me feel content?
  • What do I enjoy doing?
  • What sounds fun to me?
  • What kinds of play did I enjoy as a child?
  • What makes me laugh?
02

Write down any ideas or memories that these questions spark. If nothing comes to mind, you might consider new ways to rediscover play as an adult. It might help to review the following list of options from the video as you brainstorm ideas:

  • Take a cooking class.
  • Go for a bike ride.
  • Take an art class with a friend.
  • Play a card game with your family.
  • Go bowling.
  • Tour your city with your partner or family.
  • Attend a dance class.
  • Host a game night with friends or family.
  • Schedule time in a park or at the beach.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Joke with strangers while waiting in line.
  • Go for a hike.
  • Take a yoga class.
  • Go to an amusement park.
  • Sing and dance to an upbeat song.
03
After writing down some ideas, consider when and how you’d like to try out one of these activities before the next group meeting. Perhaps set a time in your calendar or text someone an invitation to join you. While play is often unstructured, sometimes getting started involves just a little more planning and intention.

Grounding Exercise

Stomp and Clap

This activity utilizes elements of rhythm, play, and movement to help anchor your attention to the present.

Activity Steps

01

Group Leader A begins by performing a simple stomp-clap combination.

  • Example: Stomp, clap, stomp, stomp.
02

The rest of the group will then repeat the same stomp-clap combination in unison.

03
Repeat this back-and-forth dynamic between Group Leader A and the other participants a few times, allowing the group to fall into a natural call-and-response rhythm. 
04
Next, Group Leader B will start a new stomp-clap combination for the rest of the group to follow.  
05
Repeat the same call-and-response rhythm from steps 2 and 3.   
06
Continue the activity for as long as you’d like, allowing other participants the chance to lead the group with their own stomp-clap combinations.   

Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

Download this resource (PDF)
Download Meeting script (PDF)

Additional Resources

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

Everyday Acknowledgement

Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Everyday Acknowledgement

#19

Everyday Acknowledgement

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Everyday Acknowledgement

Practicing Acknowledgement everyday helps us to change automatic reactions into intentional, conscious actions that help us progress in our healing.
Download this resource (PDF)

#19

Everyday Acknowledgement

Practicing Acknowledgement everyday helps us to change automatic reactions into intentional, conscious actions that help us progress in our healing.
Download this resource (PDF)
Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

Group Activity

Your Future Self Will Thank You

Have you ever done something for yourself in the past that you feel grateful for today? For example, you might have gotten a full night’s sleep so you could focus on a task the next day. Or perhaps you took a walk around the block and felt more invigorated afterwards. Such everyday intentional actions are examples of self-care. Self-care is prioritizing your physical, mental, and emotional care in order to create a life that is more fulfilling and sustainable (in other words, a life that you don’t want to escape from).

Like self-compassion, self-care can sometimes be misunderstood. It is often mistaken for self-indulgence, avoidance, or isolation. It’s not uncommon to envision self-care as retreating from others and engaging in a solitary activity like sleeping, taking a bath, or meditating in the middle of the woods. However, self-care isn’t about disconnection. Rather, it’s about tending to whatever needs you have in the moment—whether that’s taking a bath, setting up a lunch with a friend, or washing your car because you know you feel calmer after taking care of that task.

Ultimately, self-care involves daily actions that help you manage stress and tend to your needs. It is about finding ways to enjoy and enrich your life rather than finding ways to avoid or escape from it.

Activity steps

Part 1—Plan Ahead

01

Envision your future self and cultivate a feeling of kindness towards them.

02

Ask yourself, “What is one thing I could do today that my future self would thank me for?”

03

Write down at least one thing you can do today. Or, if the day is nearly over, you can think of something you could do tomorrow.

Part 2—Looking Back

01

So far, we’ve been discussing how to acknowledge your needs in the present and make plans to tend to those needs soon. However, Acknowledgment is also about recognizing and appreciating what you have already done in the past to get to where you’re at today. Take a moment to review the list of examples above and think about something you’ve done recently to tend to your needs. This could be something you did today (attending this support group, for example), yesterday, or earlier this week.

02

Next, write a short letter to your past self thanking them for an action they took that benefited you today. This could be a couple of paragraphs, a couple of sentences, or even a couple of words—whatever you feel expresses the gratitude towards your past self and the things they’ve done to further your healing in the present.

Grounding Exercise

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is based on the practice of intentionally contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups of the body. Not only does this exercise help reduce stress, anxiety, and muscle tension, but it can help draw your attention to the different parts of your body and all the ways it serves you.

So let’s begin.

Activity Steps

  • Settle into a comfortable position, sitting or lying down.
  • Soften your gaze or close your eyes.
  • Point the toes of your right foot toward your face and then away. Tense the thigh and calf muscles of your right leg.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Point the toes of your left foot toward your face and then away. Tense the thigh and calf muscles of your left leg.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Tense both legs.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Squeeze your right hand into a fist, tense your right arm, and bring your forearm toward your body.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Squeeze your left hand into a first, tense your left arm, and bring your forearm toward your body.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Squeeze both hands into fists, tense both arms, and bring your forearms towards your body.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Raise both shoulders.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • Select another muscle or muscle group of your choosing.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • If you are able, tense your entire body.
    Hold . . . relax.
  • After you have finished tensing and relaxing, take a moment to notice what your body feels like. Think back to a specific part of the body you tensed and relaxed and note how that muscle or muscle group has helped you today. (For example, “My calves helped me get up the stairs this morning.”)

Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

Download this resource (PDF)
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Additional Resources

If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

Difficult Relationship with the Body

Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Difficult Relationship with the Body

This video includes information about sexual intimacy and arousal, which may lead to feelings of discomfort and/or triggers. Also, some of the issues discussed may not feel applicable to you and your circumstance. For instance, when sexually abused, you may have experienced feelings of pain and violation along with or instead of arousal. Or you may feel this content does not align with your present experiences or interests as an adult. If that is the case, we hope that this video will still be helpful in terms of identifying other ways trauma may have impacted your relationship with your body.  

#18

Difficult Relationship with the Body

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Difficult Relationship with the Body

Trauma’s impact on the body can sometimes lead to feelings of shame, disconnection, and betrayal that we may not always understand or know how to manage.
Download this resource (PDF)
This video includes information about sexual intimacy and arousal, which may lead to feelings of discomfort and/or triggers. Also, some of the issues discussed may not feel applicable to you and your circumstance. For instance, when sexually abused, you may have experienced feelings of pain and violation along with or instead of arousal. Or you may feel this content does not align with your present experiences or interests as an adult. If that is the case, we hope that this video will still be helpful in terms of identifying other ways trauma may have impacted your relationship with your body.  

#18

Difficult Relationship with the Body

Trauma’s impact on the body can sometimes lead to feelings of shame, disconnection, and betrayal that we may not always understand or know how to manage.
Download this resource (PDF)
Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

Group Activity

Embodiment 

For many survivors, the idea of feeling reconnected with their body can seem daunting. This is where embodiment comes into play. Embodiment involves feeling present and empowered within your own body. It centers around being attuned to your body’s physical needs, responses, and sensations. Embodiment is important in all areas of your life, including sexual intimacy. Embodiment can begin by engaging in small moments of everyday Mindfulness—specifically moments that involve safe touch. While your mind and body may have learned to react to certain stimuli in a way that may be causing you difficulties as an adult, you can learn or re-learn to experience touch while feeling safe. 

“Safe touch” refers to physical touch that can help us feel safe, comforted, relaxed, and grounded to the present. It can also refer to touch that doesn’t disrupt these feelings if we are already experiencing them. In some cases, safe touch can also help to strengthen our feelings of connection and belonging with others. In this activity, we will practice an example of safe touch using a grounding exercise we’ve done together in past meetings.  

Activity steps

Part 1—Butterfly Hug 

01
Get into a comfortable position, either sitting up or lying down.  
02
Cross your arms over your chest and rest the tips of your fingers on your collarbone, shoulders, or arms. 
03
Next, gently tap your arms, alternating sides. As you do so, breathe in and out.  
04
Envision feelings of warmth, comfort, and safety flowing through you as you continue tapping your arms and embracing yourself in what is sometimes referred to as the “self-love hug.” 
05
Continue this exercise for 2–5 minutes or as long as you need to.  
06
When you are done, rest your hands on your lap and let your attention come back to the present moment. Reflect on any thoughts, emotions, and sensations you had as you allowed yourself a moment to experience safe touch.
Video Option
Watch this video and follow along as Jessica guides you through the butterfly hug. 

Part 2Exploring Embodiment

01
Take a few minutes to think about other embodiment activities you could try. As a reminder, these are Mindfulness activities involving safe touch. Some examples include:
  • Snuggling with a pet. 
  • Sitting in the sun. 
  • Getting a massage. 
  • Playing a sport with a friend. 
  • Tickling or wresting with your kids. 
  • Holding hands with someone you trust. 
  • Getting your hair or nails done. 
  • Laying beneath a weighted blanket. 
    02
    Write down a couple of ideas that you’d like to explore later.  
    03
    When you try out an embodiment activity, mindfully observe how present you are and what emotions you feel. If the touch gets to be too much, acknowledge how you feel and try again another time. 
    04
    After you try out the activity, reflect on the following questions: 
    • How easy or difficult was it for me to stay present while practicing safe touch? 
    • What physical sensations did I experience through safe touch? (Example: “When I sat outside, I felt the warmth of the sun on my face.”) 
    • What emotions did I feel during the activity? (Example: “As I sat outside, I felt calm, relaxed, and comfortable in my own skin.”) 
    05
    Consider what other ways you could practice safe touch to experience similar feelings of embodiment. For instance, if you enjoyed lounging in the sun, you might experience similar feelings of warmth and security by taking a bath or sitting close to your partner while you are both commuting on a train.
    06
    Remember that through these small steps, over time, safe touch can become a natural part of your day, something that enables you to feel more at home in your own body—whether during sex, at family events, while you are at work, or while you are practicing self-care.  

    Grounding Exercise

    Self-Kindness Meditation

    This exercise can help us not only ground to the present but offer ourselves warmth, comfort, and compassion. 

    Activity Steps 

    01
    Place both hands over your heart and take a moment to feel the warmth of your touch.
    Notice your breathing as it is. There is no need to change or deepen it. 
    02
    As you breathe in, imagine a sense of calm and gratitude flowing through your body and towards your heart.
    As you breathe out, imagine any tension or stress leaving your body. It may also be helpful to focus on the image of a breathing heart.
    03
    Next, envision a moment when you were with someone who made you feel loved and safe.
    This moment may be an actual memory with a loved one, trusted friend, neighbor, therapist, or mentor. You could also think of a moment spent with a beloved pet. Or, rather than drawing from a memory, you can envision a hypothetical scenario with an older, wiser version of yourself, or with a well-known figure you admire and whose work has brought you inspiration and comfort.
    04
    Think about the feelings of acceptance, safety, and love you experience when focusing on that person.
    Take a moment to allow these feelings to spread throughout your body.

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
    Download Meeting script (PDF)

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Everyday Mindfulness

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Everyday Mindfulness

    #17

    Everyday Mindfulness

    Image

    Everyday Mindfulness

    Mindfulness can become a way of being that permeates every aspect of your life, helping you to be attuned to your experiences and redirect your attention to the present with continued intention and an attitude of curiosity.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #17

    Everyday Mindfulness

    Mindfulness can become a way of being that permeates every aspect of your life, helping you to be attuned to your experiences and redirect your attention to the present with continued intention and an attitude of curiosity.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Anchoring to the Present

    When you practice grounding, you are learning to anchor your attention to the present. By doing so, you can be more aware of what you need in any given moment—whether it’s calming your body’s breathing, redirecting distressing thoughts, or reminding your aroused limbic system that you are in a safe place.

    In fact, many grounding techniques involve selecting an actual anchor to focus your attention on. An anchor, in this context, is anything that you purposefully choose to focus your attention on during times of distress to help bring you back to the present. For example, in some of our grounding exercises, the anchor is your breath. In other exercises, your anchor is safe touch or the list of sensory details you chose to focus on. An anchor can be anything. It could be a thought, a quote, a lyric, a memory, an image, or a word—whatever has meaning to you. It can even be a tangible object—one that you carry with you, like a thumb stone, a coin, or a piece of jewelry.

    Then, when you notice you’re being pushed to the edge of your window of tolerance—whether due to a trigger or to feeling trapped in a distressing thought, memory, or emotion—you can gently redirect your attention back to your anchor and the empowerment and healing it represents.

    Activity steps

    Part 1—Choosing Your Anchor 

    01
    Choose what you’d like your anchor to be.

    It can be anything that has meaning to you and that you’d like to focus on. For example, if you know today will be an overwhelming day, you might choose the word “calm.” Or, perhaps you want to choose a color that represents the kind of day you’d like to have.

    02
    Write down your anchor on a sticky note.

    Place the note someplace where you’ll see it every day. The bathroom mirror may be a good place. Or, if your anchor is a tangible object, keep that object near you or in your pocket.

    03
    Focus on your anchor at least once each day.

    Direct your attention toward your anchor and the empowering thoughts and actions you associate with it. You might also try saying your anchor out loud once a day. It may feel a little awkward at first, but you’ll be surprised by how effective it can be.

    04
    Update your anchor to match your needs.

    Your anchor never has to be set in stone. What works as an anchor for you now may not be as useful to you later. Change your anchor depending on your situation, intention, or focus. You get to choose, so your anchor can be whatever you need it to be.

    Part 2—Anchor Through Writing 

    01
    Write down everything you can about the anchor you’ve selected.

    If you are struggling to pick an anchor, here are a few more ideas that might help:

    • The pressure of your feet on the floor.
    • Sounds that come and go in the space around you.
    • An item you are using in this activity (the paper you’re writing on, the pen you’re holding, the chair you’re sitting in, etc.).
    • An encouraging thought, emotion, word, or idea (e.g., “I have the capacity to heal”).
    02
    When you notice your attention has wandered (because it will), gently note this shift without judgment and redirect your focus to your anchor.

    To help you refocus, you may choose to bring your writing back to your first sentence or rewrite the name of your anchor. If there is a thought your attention keeps returning to, you may also try making that thought your new anchor and purposefully giving it your full attention.

    03
    After the time is up, give yourself a moment to appreciate the writing you’ve achieved before choosing what you’d like to do with it.

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Save your writing and add on to it later.
    • Create a plan to apply or implement any insights you’ve had.
    • Discard or destroy your writing as a release.
    • Share your writing with others who are supportive.

    Grounding Exercise

    Mindful Movement

    Mindful movement can help you feel reconnected with your body and ground you to the present moment. It can even help you to move through certain thoughts and emotions that you may feel stuck in. During this activity, as we gently engage with our bodies, be mindful of the sensations you experience. Try to observe those sensations with curiosity and without judgment.

    So let's begin.

    Activity Steps

    • Stand up or remain seated if that feels right for you.
    • Now stretch out your left arm and wiggle your fingers.
    • Stop wiggling your fingers and make a few circles with your wrist.
    • Next, swing your left arm forward and backward at the shoulder.
    • Now let’s focus on the right side. Stretch out your right arm and wiggle your fingers.
    • Stop wiggling your fingers and make a few circles with your wrist.
    • And finally, swing your arm forward and backward at the shoulder.
    • Now put your hands on your hips and stretch your whole upper body to the left.
    • Then stretch your whole upper body to the right.
    • Now reach your hands up over your head and stretch for a few seconds.
    • Roll your shoulders forward in circles a couple of times.
    • Reverse directions and roll your shoulders back in circles a couple of times.
    • Drop your neck forward to make clockwise circles a couple of times.
    • Reverse directions and make a couple of circles.
    • And finally, shake out every part of your body—your hands, your arms, your feet, your legs, and your head.
    • Once you finish, give yourself a moment to notice the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations you are experiencing.

    Video Option

    Watch this video and follow along as Saria guides you through a mindful movement activity.

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
    Download Meeting script (PDF)

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Understanding Dissociation 

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Understanding Dissociation 

    #07

    Understanding Dissociation 

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    Understanding Dissociation 

    One of the most common ways a survivor’s brain and body tries to protect them is through dissociation, a coping technique that employs feelings of numbness or disconnection from the present moment.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #07

    Understanding Dissociation 

    One of the most common ways a survivor’s brain and body tries to protect them is through dissociation, a coping technique that employs feelings of numbness or disconnection from the present moment.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Mindful Eating

    For this activity, the group leader will need to provide snacks for participants to taste. This could be something as small as a single pack of crackers, raisins, or mints. 

    One way to help you feel more connected with your body is to mindfully observe your sensory responses in the present. This can be done with grounding techniques like 5-4-3-2-1, as well as by applying Mindfulness to everyday activities, like eating. Often, eating can become an automatic, mindless habit—eating because you have to, eating to escape from something, or eating simply because you’re bored. In contrast, mindful eating is about feeling more connected to the present by directing your attention to the sensory responses your brain and body experience during a snack or meal.

    To begin, all you need is a bit of curiosity and something to eat.

    Activity steps

    Option 1
    01
    As you accept the snack offered to you by the group leader, imagine you are discovering this food for the first time. If you feel comfortable, you can try closing your eyes and guessing what the group leader has brought based on how the snack feels, smells, and tastes.
    02
    Deliberately bring the food up to your mouth, making note of all the muscles you are using to do so. When you feel ready, take an intentional bite of your food.
    03
    Notice how your body responds to the food and allow yourself to explore flavors and savor the food before swallowing. For example, is the food hot or cold? Sweet or salty? Bland or spicy? Can you identify different flavors or just one?
    04
    As your attention wanders, gently redirect it back toward the food—perhaps even toward a specific detail you’ve noticed, such as the smell, texture, or how it makes you feel. With curiosity and kindness, notice any urges, memories, or thoughts that may have surfaced as you’ve been eating.
    05
    Check in with your body to see what it needs. For example, you might ask yourself: How does this food make me feel physically, emotionally, and mentally? How did being intentional about eating change the experience?
    06
    Finish with a moment of purposeful appreciation for the experience your mind and body had.  
    Option 2
    Instead of connecting with your body through the physical sensation of taste, you could try mindfully observing the present through another sensation, such as sight or sound.

    Look closely, what do you see?

    1. With sight, take a moment to observe your surroundings, noting any details that stand out to you. Then, pick a specific object and focus on every detail you can glean from it based on sight alone—its color and size, its texture and weight, its function, any memories or thoughts you associate with it, why it stood out to you, etc.
    2. Next, partner with another participant and have them guess what object you are thinking about based on the details you observed. You might try starting with the vaguest details first and then getting more specific as they continue to guess.
    3. Once your partner has guessed the object you are thinking of, switch roles and try to guess what detail in the room they have selected.

    Listen carefully, what do you hear?

    1. Participate in a game of call-and-response, with Group Leader A leading out by creating a simple rhythm by clapping their hands and slapping their thighs, and then inviting everyone to repeat the same rhythm in unison.
      • Example: Drum, clap, drum, drum, clap
    2. After Group Leader A and the participants repeat this call-and-response several times, Group Leader B can start a new rhythm for the rest of the group to follow.
    3. This back and forth can continue a few times, allowing anyone else who would like to set a new rhythm the chance to do so.
    4. Afterwards, reflect on the physical sensations you experienced during the activity. How did mindfulness and intention factor into the game? What are other examples of anchoring to the present using the five senses?

    Grounding Exercise

    5-4-3-2-1

    This simple exercise is an example of sensory grounding, which involves directing your attention toward one or more of your five senses.

    So let’s begin.

    Activity Steps

    01
    Take a moment to get comfortable and focus on the setting around you. 
    02
    Name 5 things you can see. As you do so, label each one in your head. 
    03
    Name 4 things you can hear. 
    04
    Name 3 things you can feel. 
    05
    Name 2 things you can smell. 
    06
    Name 1 thing you can taste. Some people will carry oils or a mint so they have them ready should they need to ground using their senses.  
    07
    Finally, take a moment to notice any other details around you or sensations you might be experiencing in this moment. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to simply be. 

    Video Option

    Watch this video about everyday grounding techniques, focusing on the sensory experiences it may evoke.  

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
    Download Meeting script (PDF)

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Neuroplasticity and Healing

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Neuroplasticity and Healing

    #06

    Neuroplasticity and Healing

    Image

    Neuroplasticity and Healing

    Whatever trauma you’ve endured as a survivor, healing is possible due to your brain’s incredible ability to adapt and create new pathways. This process is called neuroplasticity.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #06

    Neuroplasticity and Healing

    Whatever trauma you’ve endured as a survivor, healing is possible due to your brain’s incredible ability to adapt and create new pathways. This process is called neuroplasticity.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Planning Ahead

    Planning ahead can be an effective tool in making your healing a priority. When you write down even one reminder of what you’d like to focus on today, tomorrow, or the rest of the week, you’re not just creating a plan, you’re strengthening the communication between the lower and higher parts of your brain.

    Making conscious choices, such as planning, tracking, and following through, strengthens the frontal lobe (the area in the cortex that helps you to think critically, analyze situations, and problem solve). This added strength can positively impact your limbic system and your body because it helps to build new connections in your brain (or neural pathways). Over time and with consistent care, these neural pathways will get stronger, and you’ll feel more empowered to act on the plans, goals, and dreams you have.

    Activity steps

    Part 1—Planning

    01
    As you anticipate this upcoming week, select at least one question that stands out to you and write down an answer in a journal or planner.  

    • What is one thing I want to focus on this week to progress on my healing journey? What can I do to achieve that?
    • What is one thing I’m looking forward to this week?
    • What is one new experience I would like to have this week?
    • What might I struggle with this week, and how can I plan ahead so I can manage it in a helpful way?
    • Who can I reach out to for support?

    02
    Next, write down anything that you think will help you this upcoming week. This might be notes, goals, events, reminders, etc.

    Part 2—Reflecting

    03
    When your week is over, look back and reflect on the thoughts you had that guided your planning. Pick at least one of the following questions that stands out to you and write down your answer. Try to pick a different question each week to help you uncover new insights you may not have noticed before:

    • What is something I enjoyed doing this week?
    • On a scale of 1–10 (1 = This week was challenging, 10 = This week was great) how was this week? What could I do next week to move my number just one degree higher?
    • How did my body feel this week?
    • What relationships did I strengthen this week?
    • How did I sleep?
    • What was my best moment from this week?

    Grounding Exercise

    Mindful Movement

    Mindful movement can help you feel reconnected with your body and ground you to the present moment. It can even help you to move through certain thoughts and emotions that you may feel stuck in. During this activity, as we gently engage with our bodies, be mindful of the sensations you experience. Try to observe those sensations with curiosity and without judgment.

    So let's begin.

    Activity Steps

    • Stand up or remain seated if that feels right for you.
    • Now stretch out your left arm and wiggle your fingers.
    • Stop wiggling your fingers and make a few circles with your wrist.
    • Next, swing your left arm forward and backward at the shoulder.
    • Now let’s focus on the right side. Stretch out your right arm and wiggle your fingers.
    • Stop wiggling your fingers and make a few circles with your wrist.
    • And finally, swing your arm forward and backward at the shoulder.
    • Now put your hands on your hips and stretch your whole upper body to the left.
    • Then stretch your whole upper body to the right.
    • Now reach your hands up over your head and stretch for a few seconds.
    • Roll your shoulders forward in circles a couple of times.
    • Reverse directions and roll your shoulders back in circles a couple of times.
    • Drop your neck forward to make clockwise circles a couple of times.
    • Reverse directions and make a couple of circles.
    • And finally, shake out every part of your body—your hands, your arms, your feet, your legs, and your head.
    • Once you finish, give yourself a moment to notice the thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations you are experiencing.

    Video Option

    Watch this video and follow along as Saria guides you through a mindful movement activity.

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    Download this resource (PDF)
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    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Introducing Mindfulness

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Introducing Mindfulness

    #05

    Introducing Mindfulness

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    Introducing Mindfulness

    Healing from child sexual abuse involves the practice of Mindfulness, which is purposefully paying attention with kindness and curiosity to the present moment.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #05

    Introducing Mindfulness

    Healing from child sexual abuse involves the practice of Mindfulness, which is purposefully paying attention with kindness and curiosity to the present moment.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Walking with Awareness

    Walking can be a powerful part of your healing journey. And when you incorporate the elements of Mindfulness into your walking, it becomes even more impactful on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Taking a walk can be healing as it strengthens the connection between your brain and body. The rhythm of your steps can help to regulate your emotions as the bilateral movement engages both hemispheres of the brain. This consistent rhythm can provide a calming effect that helps to reduce levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. Walking also gives you the chance to quiet any distressing thoughts about the past or future by focusing only on the present—the setting around you, the senses you experience on your walk, and the movement of your body.

    Activity steps

    01
    Begin by standing up, taking a few deep breaths, and noticing how you feel. Observe the weight of your feet on the ground and the sensations in your feet.
    02
    Next, take the next 5–7 minutes to go on a walk. During your walk, try one of the activities below. These activities are not intended to be done at the same time. You may decide to try one and then move to another, or you may decide to stick with the same activity throughout.

    Notice your surroundings.

    Apply Mindfulness by directing your attention to your sensory experience. What do you see, hear, smell, or feel? As you notice your mind wander, gently guide it back to the present and the details around you.

    Focus on your steps.

    Rather than observing the details of your environment, you may decide to direct your attention to the rhythm of your steps and the feel of your feet hitting the ground.

    Carry a pen and paper.

    Pause to take notes of what you see, hear, or discover on your walk. You might even record a single word, like a color or a name.

    Practice breathing techniques.

    Notice you breathing as you walk, perhaps even timing your breaths to the rhythm of your steps. You could also imagine inhaling comforting thoughts or emotions and exhaling tension and distress.

    Try walking outside.

    If the weather, environment, and venue allow, try walking outside, even for a few seconds. This change in environment can help to recharge your senses.

    Use positive affirmations.

    Combining positive statements with physical movement helps strengthen the communication between your cortex and the messages it sends to your body. Try saying encouraging things while you walk, such as “I am strong,” “I am loveable,” “I am grateful for . . .” Repeat the affirmation as you walk.
    03
    When you return from your walk, take a moment to notice any thoughts, emotions, or physical sensations you are experiencing. Are there any differences between how you feel now and how you felt before the walk? What are they?

    Grounding Exercise

    Progressive Muscle Relaxation

    Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) is based on the practice of intentionally contracting and relaxing the different muscle groups of the body. Not only does this exercise help reduce stress, anxiety, and muscle tension, but it can help draw your attention to the different parts of your body and all the ways it serves you.

    So let’s begin.

    Activity Steps

    • Settle into a comfortable position, sitting or lying down.
    • Soften your gaze or close your eyes.
    • Point the toes of your right foot toward your face and then away. Tense the thigh and calf muscles of your right leg.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Point the toes of your left foot toward your face and then away. Tense the thigh and calf muscles of your left leg.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Tense both legs.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Squeeze your right hand into a fist, tense your right arm, and bring your forearm toward your body.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Squeeze your left hand into a first, tense your left arm, and bring your forearm toward your body.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Squeeze both hands into fists, tense both arms, and bring your forearms towards your body.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Raise both shoulders.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • Select another muscle or muscle group of your choosing.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • If you are able, tense your entire body.
      Hold . . . relax.
    • After you have finished tensing and relaxing, take a moment to notice what your body feels like. Think back to a specific part of the body you tensed and relaxed and note how that muscle or muscle group has helped you today. (For example, “My calves helped me get up the stairs this morning.”)

    Video Option

    Watch this video and follow along in a guided PMR exercise.
    Note: This video is 10 minutes long and may need to be cut down to better suit the group’s time constraints.

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
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    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Understanding Shame

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Understanding Shame

    #04

    Understanding Shame

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    Understanding Shame

    Survivors of child sexual abuse often experience persistent and intense feelings of shame, despite the truth that you did nothing to warrant that shame.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #04

    Understanding Shame

    Survivors of child sexual abuse often experience persistent and intense feelings of shame, despite the truth that you did nothing to warrant that shame.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Fostering Self-Kindness

    It’s often easier to show compassion towards others than towards ourselves. This is why a great place to start with self-compassion is to treat ourselves with the same kindness we would treat a friend. For example, think of a time when you’ve had a friend who was struggling in some way. Maybe they had a misfortune, failed at something, or felt inadequate. Reflect on the following questions:

    • How did I respond?
    • What did I say?
    • What tone did I use?
    • What were my posture and nonverbal gestures?
    • What emotions did I feel?
    Now, think of a time when you were struggling in some way. Consider the same questions as listed above. What are differences between how you responded to a friend versus how you responded to yourself? Fostering self-kindness helps to close the gap between those differences. It involves teaching yourself that the warmth, sympathy, and kindness you granted your friend is the type of compassion you deserve to feel towards yourself. The activity below can help you get started.

    Activity steps

    01
    Think of a time when you were struggling with feelings of inadequacy or shame.
    What thoughts did you experience during this time? Were any of those thoughts connected to shame? (“I am annoying to be around,” “I am destined to be alone,” “I am incapable of success.”) What emotions accompanied these thoughts? Sadness? Embarrassment? Frustration? What physical changes did you notice? Shortness of breath? A tightness in the chest? A rush of heat to your face?
    02
    Think of an inner companion who is kind and loving.
    This companion is one who offers you empathy and understanding and shares words of comfort and encouragement. Your inner companion might be based on someone you know such as a friend who showed you compassion in the past. Or your inner companion could be a public or historical figure or perhaps a character from your favorite book or show. You might also consider basing your inner companion on something that invokes feelings of peace and joy—perhaps words, a presence, an image, a figure, or a belief. Whatever you choose, take some time to create a kind and loving companion who is always with you.
    03
    Consider what your inner companion would say to you during your moment of suffering.
    Similar to how you showed compassion to your friend when they were struggling with something, your inner companion shows empathy and encouragement to you when you feel the pain that comes with experiencing shame. Rather than viewing your struggles with criticism and condemnation, your companion sees you as you are: a human being who has endured hardships and is doing the best they can. They may offer words of encouragement such as “You are doing your best,” “You are doing enough,” “You have been through a lot,” and “It’s okay to feel this way.” Perhaps their words are similar to the phrases you expressed to your friend during their time of need.
    Disclaimer: You may not feel that you are in the headspace to see things through your inner companion’s lens or to explore what they would say to you when you are feeling shame. If that is the case, don’t worry. Instead, continue referring to words of encouragement you would share with a friend who is suffering.
    04
    Write down the phrases your inner companion would say to you and keep them someplace safe.
    When you notice shame influencing your thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, or behaviors, you can reflect on these phrases to help remind you about self-kindness. Perhaps you prefer to say these words of encouragement out loud, or maybe you’d rather repeat them in your mind. Each time you reaffirm the kind and loving phrases of your inner companion, you are moving closer towards feelings of self-compassion and away from shame, self-blame, and judgment.

    Grounding Exercise

    Positive Affirmations

    Positive affirmations are sentences you say to yourself to remind you of your value, how far you’ve come, and how capable you are of continuing your healing journey. They can serve as an anchor to this moment, as well as a tool to nurturing self-compassion.

    So let's begin.

    Activity Steps

    01

    Select an affirmation from this list or choose one of your own.

    • I am enough.
    • I am learning to love myself.
    • I choose happiness.
    • I am moving forward on my healing journey one choice at a time.
    • I have strength and power to take whatever comes my way.
    • I can do challenging things.
    • I am grateful for this day and the many possibilities it affords.
    • I deserve compassion, kindness, and understanding.
    02
    Repeat the affirmation in your mind as you inhale and exhale, envisioning the words as your anchor to the present.  
    03
    As your mind wanders, gently redirect it back to the affirmation, noting your drifting attention with patience and curiosity.  
    04
    Continue this exercise for 1–2 minutes. As you do so, you might choose a new affirmation to focus on or stick with the same one—whatever works best for you.  
    05
    When you are finished, allow yourself a few paced breaths, imagining feelings of warmth and compassion flowing through you.  

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
    Download Meeting script (PDF)

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Understanding the Limbic System

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Understanding the Limbic System

    #03

    Understanding the Limbic System

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    Understanding the Limbic System

    Part of understanding trauma’s impact on the brain is learning about the limbic system and its drive to protect us from danger, even when no actual threat is present.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #03

    Understanding the Limbic System

    Part of understanding trauma’s impact on the brain is learning about the limbic system and its drive to protect us from danger, even when no actual threat is present.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Grounding to the present

    When you practice grounding, you are learning to anchor yourself to the present moment. This allows you to be more in tune with what you’re feeling and experiencing now. By doing this, you can be aware of what you need in this moment—whether that’s calming your body breathing, soothing racing thoughts about the past or future, or reminding your limbic system that you are in a safe place. One technique that can help you connect (or anchor) to the present is actively focusing on details that let you know you aren’t a child trapped in an abusive situation from the past but an adult who is safe and practicing healing tools in the present. 

    Activity steps

    Part 1—Anchor with Questions
    01
    Take a minute to go through the following list of questions. State the answer to each question in your head.
    • Where am I right now?
    • What’s the time, day of the week, and date?
    • What temperature does it feel like?
    • What am I doing right now? (“I’m sitting in a support group . . .” or “I’m practicing a grounding technique”)
    • What am I feeling in my body right now? Focus on each sensation.
    • What is a color I can see right now? What else around me is that same color?
    • What is an object I can see right now? What details do I notice about that object? (shape, texture, size)
    02
    After you’ve answered each of these questions, consider which question(s) you want to try out the next time you are practicing Mindfulness or are experiencing a trigger. Write that question down on something you can carry with you.
    Part 2—Anchor with Safe Touch 
    01
    Hold up one hand and splay the fingers.
    02
    Trace upwards along the thumb of this hand as you inhale.
    03
    Pause your tracing at the top of the thumb. Hold for a couple of seconds.
    04
    Trace downwards along your thumb as you release your breath, making sure your exhale is longer than your inhale.
    05
    Repeat these steps as you trace the rest of your fingers, timing your breath as you trace upwards then downwards.
    06
    After you have finished tracing your fingers, allow yourself a moment to take a couple more paced breaths.

    Grounding Exercise

    5-4-3-2-1

    This simple exercise is an example of sensory grounding, which involves directing your attention toward one or more of your five senses.

    So let’s begin.

    Activity Steps

    01
    Take a moment to get comfortable and focus on the setting around you. 
    02
    Name 5 things you can see. As you do so, label each one in your head. 
    03
    Name 4 things you can hear. 
    04
    Name 3 things you can feel. 
    05
    Name 2 things you can smell. 
    06
    Name 1 thing you can taste. Some people will carry oils or a mint so they have them ready should they need to ground using their senses.  
    07
    Finally, take a moment to notice any other details around you or sensations you might be experiencing in this moment. Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to simply be. 

    Video Option

    Watch this video about everyday grounding techniques, focusing on the sensory experiences it may evoke.  

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
    Download Meeting script (PDF)

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.

    Introducing Acknowledgement

    Saprea Support Groups > Group Materials >Introducing Acknowledgement

    #02

    Introducing Acknowledgement

    Image

    Introducing Acknowledgement

    Healing from child sexual abuse involves the practice of Acknowledgement, which is looking with clarity and self-compassion at where you have been in the past and where you are today.
    Download this resource (PDF)

    #02

    Introducing Acknowledgement

    Healing from child sexual abuse involves the practice of Acknowledgement, which is looking with clarity and self-compassion at where you have been in the past and where you are today.
    Download this resource (PDF)
    Each Saprea Support Group meeting begins with 'Group Leader A' reading the script while participants follow along. The script will be the same for every group meeting. Click here to find the script and get your meeting started. Below you will find the additional meeting materials for this course.

    Group Activity

    Expressive Writing

    Expressive writing is writing freely about whatever is on your mind. It can serve as an outlet to explore certain emotions and anxieties that may be otherwise difficult to express or acknowledge. It may even reveal emotions that you weren’t aware of. Many survivors of trauma feel like they are carrying around thoughts, emotions, and memories that seem impossible to unpack. The past might blur into the present, thoughts might feel muddled and disjointed, and emotions may seem either too overwhelming or just out of reach. Whatever the state of our thoughts and emotions, expressive writing can help to bring clarity and cohesion. 

    Activity steps

    There’s no right or wrong way to do expressive writing, but here’s one way to try. 
    01
    For the next 5 minutes, write about something you’ve been thinking about.
    It can be anything you feel ready to write about. Some examples might be:  
    A recent argument:
    An upcoming event:
    A recurring dream:
    A current relationship:
    Changes occurring in your life:
    A past experience:
    A thought or emotion you want to explore: 
    02
    Before you begin writing, here are a few tips:  
    • Write continuously for the full 5 minutes, even if you feel you have nothing to write about. You can even write “I have nothing to write about,” but don’t stop writing.
    • If you write about a specific event, be sure to include your feelings about that event.
    • Give yourself permission to remember and to feel, as long as you can do so safely. Don’t pressure yourself towards feeling one specific emotion over another.  
    • Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, sentence structure, organization, etc.
    • Write for yourself. No one else will read this, so don’t censor your thoughts or feelings.
    • If you start to feel triggered, take a break to practice some self-care. After your break, feel out if you’d like to finish the activity to create closure, return to it later, or work on it with the help of a trusted therapist.  
    • While these writing sessions can be an effective way to sort through thoughts, memories, and emotions, they are meant to complement, not substitute, taking action, seeking therapy, attending support groups, or seeking medical care.
    03
    Once you have finished writing, it might be helpful to reflect on your writing session with the following questions: 
    • Should I write about this same topic next time, or am I ready to shift toward another topic?
    • How did I feel as I was writing? Do I feel any different now than before I started?
    • What do I want to do with this writing? Keep it? Throw it away? Burn it? Art journal over it?

    Grounding Exercise

    Butterfly Hug

    The butterfly hug—sometimes referred to as the “self-love hug”—is an example of sensory grounding involving touch. It is also a self-soothing technique you can use any time you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or triggered.

    Activity Steps

    01
    Get into a comfortable position, either sitting up or lying down.  
    02
    Cross your arms over your chest and rest the tips of your fingers on your collarbone, shoulders, or arms. 
    03
    Next, gently tap your arms, alternating sides. As you do so, breathe in and out.
    04
    Continue this exercise for 2–5 minutes or as long as you need to.
    05
    When you are done, rest your hands on your lap and let your attention come back to the present moment.  

    Video Option

    Watch this video and follow along as Jessica guides you through the butterfly hug.  

    Hosting Your Meetings Off-Line? Download All of the Materials You Need Here:

    Download this resource (PDF)
    Download Meeting script (PDF)

    Additional Resources

    If you are interested in learning more about this topic, we invite you to explore these additional resources.