Roadmap for Resilience: The science behind healthy relationships
Healthy relationships are a powerful counterbalance to adverse childhood experiences. A growing body of research is showing that healthy relationships can cushion stress and reduce, or even erase, the negative health impacts associated with ACEs.
Nurturing relationships and social support have been shown to lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, improve our immune system, and decrease inflammation and risk of cardiovascular disease.
Roadmap for Resilience: The science behind mindfulness practices
A growing body of evidence shows that mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, and breathing techniques may promote healing from ACEs and toxic stress for both adults and children. Mindfulness cultivates a non-judgmental “space” between stimulus and response that has been shown to decrease shame and increase acceptance, self-compassion, and empathy, while building emotional resilience.
Mindfulness practices help to, quite literally, rewire the brain to activate the regions in charge of things like attention, emotional regulation, and weighing consequences, while balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic activity of the nervous system.
Roadmap for Resilience: The science behind movement
Physical activity is key to good health. It’s been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and mental health disorders. It also improves memory, attention, cognition, and immune function.
For children and adults alike — especially important for those of us with ACEs — movement can help regulate the stress response and build resilience factors.
Roadmap for Resilience: The science behind quality sleep
Sleep is complicated when it comes to ACEs. On one hand, several different types of sleep disruptions have been associated with children and adults with ACEs, from chronic nightmares to insomnia.
But poor sleep is linked with poor health outcomes too, like increased risk of heart disease, depression, and diabetes. For children, poor sleep can lead to impaired neurocognitive development, social emotional skills, health, and family functioning.
Roadmap for Resilience: The science behind being in nature
Nature has a profound impact on our well-being and health. Exposure to nature can lead to lower heart rate and blood pressure and decreased rates of diabetes, depression, heart disease, and early death.
Green space and nature have been associated with lower crime rates, less violence, and increased social connections, where loss of green space has been linked to increased crime and higher rates of cardiovascular and respiratory deaths.
Not surprisingly, nature has also been shown to calm the stress response system and foster healthy behaviors like physical activity, mindfulness, and healthy relationships.
Yet access to nature isn’t distributed equally. The populations with the highest incidence and risk of ACEs are often the ones with the least amount of safe green space.
Roadmap for Resilience: The science behind nourishment
ACEs have been linked to a higher risk of obesity and diabetes, as well as eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
The relationship between stress and nourishment can be complicated though. Malnutrition can activate the stress response, and stress can affect our digestion, metabolism, and behavior towards food.
This complex linkage is borne out in science. Patients with eating disorders have been found to have higher cortisol levels, while obesity is linked to physiological stress, chronic inflammation, and oxidative stress.