Dr. David Henderson
February 08, 2010
David Henderson

Is there a psychological, even a physical benefit to forgiveness? Studies show that there are. Forgiveness has been associated with all of the following:

1. lower heart rate and blood pressure

2. Greater relief from stress

3. Decrease in medication use

4. improved sleep quality and decrease in fatigue

5. decreased physical complaints such as aches and pains

6. Reduction in depressive symptoms 

7. Strengthened spirituality

8. Better conflict management

9. Improved relationships (not just with the offending party but in other relationships as well)

10. Increase in purposeful, altruistic behaviors

So, are you holding on to anger? Is there someone that you are “punishing” by choosing not to forgive? Why not let go of the bitterness and start enjoying all of the above. It takes practice and effort to forgive, but it is well worth it in the long run (spiritually, physically, and psychologically.)

Karremans JC, Van Lange PA, Holland RW. Forgiveness and its associations with prosocial thinking, feeling, and doing beyond the relationship with the offender. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, October 2005.
Lawler KA, Younger JW, Piferi RL, Billington E, Jobe R, Edmondson K, Jones WH. A change of heart: cardiovascular correlates of forgiveness in response to interpersonal conflict. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Octover 2003.
Lawler KA, Younger JW, Piferi RL, Jobe RL, Edmondson KA, Jones WH. The unique effects of forgiveness on health: an exploration of pathways. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, April 2005.