Humans are social creatures. We enjoy the company of friends and family.
Having healthy social relationships is a major factor that contributes to a person’s health and wellbeing.
Because of our social nature, however, we also have to deal with interpersonal conflicts sometimes. Our individual differences can lead to misunderstandings and arguments.
A solution that people often resort to is ending the relationship.
Recent studies suggest, however, that the act of forgiveness and fixing a relationship have huge health benefits.
Just think about it: when something important to you like your watch gets broken, you don’t automatically throw it away.
You can get Sofly watch parts and have it repaired.
Similarly, relationships can be repaired through forgiveness and conflict management. In this article, we take a look at what recent scientific research say about the numerous benefits of forgiveness, especially on your health and well-being.
What are the Health Benefits of Forgiveness?
Being hurt and continually angry puts a huge burden on your mind and body. It activates the sympathetic nervous system — the part of your brain responsible for fight or flight responses.
This results in changes to your heart rate, blood pressure, and immune system. People who experience chronic anger have a higher risk of developing depression, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions.
Forgiving yourself and others get rid of the hurt and anger. It calms stress levels and leads to better health. The act of forgiveness can reap the following rewards for your health:
Lower risk of heart attack
Improved cholesterol levels
Better sleep quality
Lower blood pressure
Decreased levels of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Health Benefits of Forgiveness on Young Adults
A recent study published in The Journal of Positive Psychology analyzed the association of forgiveness (including forgiveness of others and self-forgiveness) with health outcomes among thousands of young adults.
The results of the study showed that forgiveness leads to improved psychosocial well-being. When young adults forgive others and forgive themselves for mistakes they make, they develop personal mastery, they gain a sense of purpose and feeling in life and are able to develop positive relationships with others.
Forgiveness among young adults also reduces depressive and anxiety symptoms.
Health Benefits of Forgiveness on Older Adults
A group of researchers analyzed a sample of older adults to examine the relationship between forgiveness and well-being.
The results of their study suggest that forgiveness is associated with increased optimism and self-esteem.
Another study published recently in the journal Psychology & Health concluded that forgiveness of others and self-forgiveness among older adults reduces negative emotions such as anger and regret.
This helps them achieve a restful mental state that supports improved sleep. A sound sleep promotes better health.
There is scientific evidence that some people are just naturally better at forgiving others and self-forgiveness.
Forgiveness, however, is still a choice. It is an active process in which you choose to let go of negative thoughts and feelings.
When you forgive, you make a conscious decision to offer compassion whether or not the person who wronged you deserved it.
The following suggestions can help you learn to be more forgiving and enjoy the health benefits of forgiveness:
Perhaps you missed a deadline. Or maybe you made a mistake that resulted in serious consequences.
When things like these happen, the gap between who you are and who you want to be can seem very large.
It is important for you to learn to forgive and show compassion to yourself. Imperfection is a part of the human experience, something that we all share.
Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings without judging yourself too harshly.
The technique is to ask yourself this question: What would you do if a close friend or family member shared to you that they made a similar mistake? Would you tell them to criticize themselves endlessly?
Stay up all night and relive the experience? Or do you show them empathy and support?
Being caring and gentle with yourself can benefit your health and your relationships with others.
Manage Your Expectations
You may think that giving an apology will change your relationship.
Or you may still be expecting an apology from the person who wronged you.
This kind of expectation can hold you back from moving on.
Learn to manage your expectations and you won’t be disappointed.
Empathize with Others
Try to understand other people from their point of view rather than your own.
Make an effort to experience their feelings and thoughts.
Empathizing with others will help you better understand their behaviors and motivations.
Act on Your Decision to Forgive Deeply
Understand that forgiving others is more than just saying words of apology.
Commit to your decision to forgive by taking action. You may not be ready yet to talk to the person who offended you.
You can still take action by writing about your decision to forgive in a journal.
You can also discuss your journey towards forgiveness with a person that you trust.
Forgiving yourself and others will require effort on your part. It is a choice that you alone can make.
There are many benefits to learning the act of forgiveness.
The decision to forgive can improve your physical and mental health.
It will also help you have a more realistic and meaningful relationship with yourself and with others.