Some twenty years ago an American doctor started some research into how difficulties when growing up would affect long term outcomes and the results have been shocking.
The ACEs study's results show that maltreatment and household dysfunction in childhood contribute to health problems decades later. These include chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes—that are the most common causes of death and disability. It also shows a major impact on risk taking behaviours and other social issues.
It impacts our brains and means:
All of this then also affects our health:
When you look at this list, many of us can identify with these experiences but perhaps what we don’t know is how it actually affects us. The unpredictable nature of things that stress us causes more damage than predictable things that we can learn to expect. Some stress is normal and healthy but when it goes on for long periods or doesn’t really stop, it becomes damaging.
If our childhood issues have been very serious then support from professionals will probably be needed, so don’t be afraid to talk to someone responsible and trusted. However, there is so much that we can do to help ourselves too! The brain is amazing, so is able to repair many issues over time. Exercise, yoga and meditation are known to have great healing effects and helps us to create new pathways in our brain that help us think and learn better, but it also helps calm our brains fear centre and reduces the amount of stress hormone in our bodies.
Developing and maintaining positive relationships with trusted and responsible individuals and building a support network of friends and family but also teachers, youth workers etc, also helps. Being human means although it might feel uncomfortable sometimes, we do need other people to help and support us.
Many of us share these issues and some still impact us today, but with the support of others and learning to build our own resilience, we can achieve happy, healthy, successful lives. So, talk to someone and know you’ve got this!
Crea8ing Careers - Foundations for the future.