MindfullnessHow can adults who experienced trauma as children improve their lives? Research from Temple University suggests that adults who use mindfulness techniques are better able to overcome childhood adversity and manage their physical and mental health. Mindfulness training could help adults work through past issues and live healthier lives.

The researchers surveyed 2,160 adults working in 66 Head Start programs in Pennsylvania. Head Start is a federally funded early childhood education program. The adults responded to a questionnaire that asked about their experiences with eight types of childhood adversity, including whether they had been abused or if a parent had an addiction to drugs or alcohol. The respondents also reported on their current health and whether they practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of “being in the moment” and paying attention to one’s thoughts and feelings in daily life.

One-third of the respondents reported experiences with three or more forms adverse childhood experiences. Thirty percent of the respondents stated that they had three or more stress-related health conditions like headaches, back pain, or depression. However, the respondents who practiced mindfulness the most had nearly half the risk of having multiple health conditions compared to respondents who practiced mindfulness the least. The most mindful respondents reported having better health behaviors—they tended to get enough sleep and feel bad less often. More mindful respondents saw these benefits regardless of their levels of childhood adversity.

“Our results suggest that mindfulness may provide some resilience against the poor adult health outcomes that often result from childhood trauma. Mindfulness training may help adults, including those with a history of childhood trauma, to improve their own well-being and be more effective with children,” commented Robert Whitaker, lead study author and professor of public health and pediatrics at Temple University.

This research will be published in October in the journal Preventative Medicine.

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