Have you ever started reading about a topic or story that instantly broke your heart, but in the same breath you couldn’t help but keep reading? That’s how I felt when I first started researching toxic stress.
As a former private and public school educator, it took all of two seconds for so many of my former students’ faces to float to the forefront of my mind. What if I had had the information in my hands then that I have now after learning what I’ve learned about toxic stress? Could I have pointed these kids and their families to the resources that could have really made a difference?
I also started thinking about a small handful of friends and close family members who would likely confirm that toxic stress is exactly what they experienced growing up (in varying forms). I had one person close to me share that she was determined to break the mold and not to pass on the toxic stress to her children that she experienced herself. I can only imagine that that’s how so many people feel who have experienced ACEs (adverse childhood experiences). The Stress Health initiative of the Center for Youth Wellness shares, though, that breaking the generational mold is unfortunately a very difficult thing to do.
StressHealth.org offers incredible information about a topic that should be addressed 1) in our schools and 2) at pediatrician well-visit appointments way more often than it is. I can’t be the only one who has never heard the technical terms for what could otherwise be described as difficult upbringings with traumatic circumstances far beyond a child’s control.
I mentioned in a recent post about my new partnership with the Center for Youth Wellness and how we’re attempting to put as much information in peoples’ hands as we can regarding a rarely talked about topic. Often we don’t know what we simply don’t know, so I’d love to share with you some introductory information on a topic that is so very real and prevalent if you simply look around.
Let’s start with the basics. My goal for this post is that it’s purely an educational stepping stone.
What is toxic stress?
There are three types of stress: positive, tolerable, and toxic. Toxic stress is severe and lasting and is typically the result of emotional and/or physical neglect or abuse. The CYW website says that “powerful stress hormones overwhelm the child’s body and brain. This can result in lifelong issues with mental and physical health, as well as behavior.”
What does ACEs mean?
ACEs stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. We all may have experience with at least one ACE, but research shows that there is a strong correlation between a higher number of ACEs and a higher risk of health problems.
A few examples of ACEs that may result in a slow fade of harm and a lifetime of difficulty if experienced as a child:
- physical, emotional, or sexual abuse
- physical and emotional neglect
- a family member’s mental illness
- an incarcerated family member
- a mother who is treated violently
- witnessing substance abuse in the family
A few ways this affects children:
Toxic stress directly affects the brain, the heart, one’s immunity, one’s hormonal changes, and general growth and development.
What if I know a child who is experiencing ACEs?
- Click here to take the ACE quiz, which will help you further identify areas of need.
- StressHealth.org shares a number of ways that adults can help children bounce back from toxic stress. These tips touch on the areas healthy relationships, sleep, nutrition, exercise, mental health, and mindfulness. It’s worth a read, 100%.
- PS: These tips for building healthy relationships ARE FANTASTIC and worth a read for every parent!
Join the movement!
Do you have a story to tell about understand ACEs and its connection to health? Click here to share.
This post is written in partnership with Stress Health, an initiative of The Center for Youth Wellness, which is an an organization that I’ve done much research about and carefully and thoughtfully selected to work with because I so strongly believe in its message.
Hi! I’m Erica, and I absolutely adore sharing my life on this website with you! I come here almost daily to blab about all of the things related to being a regular wife and mother in today’s ever-evolving society. I share about our new home, what’s on our kitchen table, what we’re hanging in our closets, where we’re traveling to next, my crazy 5 a.m. work outs, how I make time for girlfriends, our faith, and much more. We always have a lot of balls in the air and somewhat thrive on the chaos. I believe in the power of story-telling as a form of inspiration and entertainment, so I’m here to do both! I was born and raised in north Alabama and recently re-planted roots here again after my husband transitioned out of the Army (he is now in the Reserve and it’s going so well!) I’m a super proud mom to two little girls (ages 5 and 2) who seem to be the stars of the show around here (for good reason – they’re pretty great!) I’m so glad you found me and are here reading! I hope we can get to know each other here on the blog as well as Facebook and/or Instagram. xoxo