Did you know that childhood stress can affect your health later in life? And not in a positive way!
Much research has shown that the turmoil of such dramatic events as abuse and divorce can have a lifelong impact on youngsters. In fact, the impact of divorce can be so deleterious that many mental health professionals advocate staying together regardless of how bad the marriage is, if there are children involved. Indeed, in our society we have a large percentage of “marriages of convenience,” where couples remain married long after the closeness has dissolved away.
Research on the impact of psychological stress on ones’ health as appeared across the board for decades. Psychological stress has been linked with increased risk for cardio-vascular disease, autoimmune disorders, infectious disease, and of course, mental illness.
When one is stressed, they turn on the fight or flight response, which prepares the body to overcome or to avoid danger. Since this system was developed in us to turn on rarely, repeated activation of this system (because of the stressors we face each day) causes wear and tear on the body, eventually leading to illness.
We now know that children raised with harsh or cold parenting are at greater risk for heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and skeletal fractures in adulthood than children whose parents were warm and nurturing.
Moreover, we now know that as adults, people who had harsher parenting tend to develop more cortisol (the stress hormone) to normal stressors. This impacts their sleep and health.
The key seems to be to make certain that you provide a warm and nurturing parenting environment for your children. Although this is obvious to most, what wasn’t known was how dramatic and long term the health consequences would be for those who were raised under more harsh and cold parenting.
I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California.
Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis