By Teresa Carr
Excerpts from Everyday Health – 3 Big Ways Forgiveness Is Good for Your Health by Kaitlin Sullivan
Whether you’re working on forgiving yourself or others, forgiveness is imperative for mental and physical health. Our relationships are so crucial to health, being able to forgive, and communicate to others that you have forgiven them, will benefit your and their health.
Here are three big ways that forgiveness affects our health:
1. Forgiveness Helps You Manage Stress – Not being able to forgive fosters feelings of anger, hostility and stress, which are well-documented to impact mental and physical health. People who were able to forgive experienced a decrease in their perception of their own stress. And this decrease led to a decrease in mental health symptoms.
Conversely, stress – and particularly the stress hormone cortisol – has several negative effects on systems throughout the body. Cortisol wreaks havoc in the body by affecting the immune system at a cellular level, which means it can do widespread damage to all the parts of the body the immune system touches in unpredictable ways.
2. Forgiveness Activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System, Which Is Good News for Your Heart-Forgiveness affects the parasympathetic nervous system, which slows breathing and heart rate and increases digestion. It’s also known as “rest-and-digest” response (controlling ordinary bodily functions) — or the opposite of the stress fight-or-flight response (which prepares the body for more strenuous physical activity).
The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems work together, so that your body can regulate things like blood pressure and heart rate, and function the way it should both in stressful situations and nonstressful moments. But when a person is under chronic stress – like holding onto anger – the body may stay in the fight-or-flight response for too long. The parasympathetic nervous system is the calming part of the nervous system, so it turns off the hyperarousal of the specific areas. Anything one can do to calm themselves when carrying around a lot of stress activates the parasympathetic nervous system in this way (including practicing forgiveness), and can be helpful to the mind and body as it brings the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems more in balance.
3. Forgiveness Helps Your Ruminate Less (Which Can Help Lower Risk of Psychological Disorders) –
The act of not forgiving someone or refusing to forgive someone is almost always characterized by rumination, or playing something over and over in the mind. We all ruminate, but the way that we ruminate is kind of individual. Some people do it angrily, some people ruminate hopelessly or feel depressed. Others do it anxiously and if rumination becomes habitual, it can lead to psychological disorders.
When people are able to forgive, they still ruminate to some degree, but they are able to let go of a lot of that bitterness and anger. Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate rumination, but it can reduce the toxicity of it.
To read the full article, go to www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/big-ways-forgiveness-is-good-for-your-health/
Just A Thought: “May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.” ~Peter Marshall.