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How Forgiveness Affects the Body

Most people have heard the phrase “forgiveness is for your benefit, not theirs”. Of course, this speaks to the mental energy we exert by being angry or resentful towards someone. But, did you know that forgiveness is also beneficial to your physical body? No matter if it's a small disagreement with a co-worker or long-standing resentment with a loved one, unresolved conflict can impact your physical health negatively. The longer you hold a grudge, the worse the impact on you and your health.



What Can Holding Grudges Do To Your Health?

Those who do not forgive easily can find themselves suffering from more intense bouts of PTSD, depression, anxiety, stress, and anger. These feelings and dis-orders can manifest in a plethora of physical health problems. For example, people with chronic anxiety can have digestive disorders, heart disease, asthma, chronic headaches, and a weakened immune system. Those with depression can have chronic pain or insomnia.


The idea of these physical imbalances piling up due to the inability to let go and forgive is overwhelming. However, these effects on your physical health can be overcome with one action: forgiveness. Of course, forgiveness is far easier said than done. But, knowing that it can lead you toward physical health it is important to work toward it as best as you can.


How Forgiveness Affects Your Body Positively

Studies have found that forgiveness can create significant benefits in your physical well-being. It can lower the risk of heart attacks by lowering your blood pressure. Forgiveness can improve cholesterol levels. It can help you have a better sleep schedule and stop insomnia altogether, helping your body recuperate more rapidly. Additionally, physical pain can be reduced and levels of stress, depression, and anxiety can all be lowered through the process of forgiveness.


Another important thing to note is that the connection between forgiveness and physical health increases as you get older. So, as you get older, learning to let go and forgive quickly becomes more and more important.


One of the reasons forgiveness affects your business positively is that it helps you manage stress. A study published by Annals of Behavioral Medicine found that, regardless of age, people who were able to forgive had a decrease in their perception of their stress level, no matter the source of it. This then led to a decrease in physiological distress. In fact, forgiveness is one of the most crucial coping mechanisms for stress.


Forgiveness also activates your parasympathetic nervous system which slows breathing and heart rate, sending signals to your body that you are safe. It also improves digestion. Without the parasympathetic nervous system being activated, your body may stay in the “fight-or-flight” response longer than necessary.


Ways to Forgive

Now that you know how forgiveness affects the body and that you can make a positive impact on your physical body by forgiving, here are some ways you can move toward forgiveness:

  1. Identify exactly what you are forgiving for and who you are forgiving-the more specific, the better.

  2. Acknowledge your emotions fully.

  3. Recognize how your emotions are influencing your behavior.

  4. Work on releasing negative emotions attached to the person and/or situation.

  5. Release the control and power the person/situation has had over your life.

Forgiveness affects the body in so many positive ways. It allows you to have a new lease on your physical and mental health. By forgiving you can release the situation and stop your body from taking on negative energy and experiencing negative results.

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