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Forgiveness: Is good for your health

Forgiveness is consciously deciding to let go of feelings of resentment or anger towards another person who has harmed you in some way. Letting go of those feeling does not mean having to forget or condone the wrongdoing committed against you. It simply means a person has made a conscious decision to let go of the pain the situation has caused. Forgiveness is not just a formality, but also a state of mind that can lift many burdens mentally and physically. In order to forgive you must let go the anger and negative thoughts and forgive the person outwardly as well as deep within yourself.

Unresolved conflict can affect your health more than you realize. Studies have shown that practicing forgiveness can provide huge rewards to your health. According to a study published by the Journal of Health Psychology the more forgiving people are, the fewer the symptoms of mental disorders they experience. This research suggests that learning forgiveness is a valuable mental health early intervention strategy. Individuals who develop forgiveness may have a more adaptive or extensive repertoire of coping strategies.

True forgiveness is a choice and easier said than done and may take time. It is an active process in releasing resentment and hurt, you begin to feel compassion and empathy for the person who wronged you.

Health benefits of forgiveness:

Harboring hurt and disappointment carries an enormous physical burden. Chronic anger puts you into fight-or-flight modes, which have effects on blood pressure, changes in heart rate, and immune response. Those changes may increase the risk of depression, heart disease and diabetes among other health conditions.

The health benefits of forgiveness include lowering stress levels, which results in lower levels of cortisol. Elevated levels of cortisol can lead to increased blood sugar levels. Practicing forgiveness can lowering your heart rate and the risk of heart attack, improving cholesterol and sleep; lowering blood pressure, and levels of anxiety, depression and stress. According to a study done by Duke University Medical Center, having a forgiving heart may lower both emotional and physical pain. In the study of those who suffered from chronic back pain, those who were more likely to forgive reported lower levels of pain. Leading researchers to believe a relationship exists between forgiveness and certain aspects of living with persistent pain. Other benefits are greater self-esteem and overall happiness.

Forgiving yourself

Forgiveness does not only involve harboring anger and hurt towards others. There may be times throughout your life when it may become necessary to forgive oneself for an act or wrongdoing, either real or perceived. Some people have made choices in their life they later regret and may have a difficult time forgiving themselves for making those choices. People often hold themselves to higher level of accountability than they do others. As a result they often have a more difficult time forgiving themselves after doing something wrong even more than they would forgiving another person who committed a similar offense against them. Self-forgiveness is most effective when it includes careful reflection on a mistake, admission of the mistake, empathy for the other and some kind of reparation for the offense. When a person has challenges with self-forgiveness, issues such anxiety, depression and stress may manifest into physical symptoms. Individuals who are unable to forgive themselves are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as substance and alcohol abuse.

Practice Forgiveness as Part of Your Life

Consequently those who forgive tend to have more satisfaction with their lives. The personal benefits of forgiveness include increased happiness, better health and stronger relationships. They are often able to experience more positive feeling towards people, higher levels of empathy, ability to resolve conflict more easily and repair damaged relationships with family or friends.

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