The Grapevine

Forgiveness Reduces Blood Pressure, Improves Physiological Health, Studies Claim

Researchers claimed that acts of forgiveness afford several health benefits. A renowned author of books on forgiveness agreed with this and developed an intervention model that helped his clients become more forgiving.

Forgiveness Reduces Blood Pressure Levels

A study published in Science Direct claimed that acts of forgiveness reduce blood pressure levels. The participants first completed a self-report measure of forgiveness prior to the commencement of the study. It was found that although forgiveness is not directly related to cardiovascular reactivity, higher levels of trait forgiveness lowered diastolic blood pressure at the baseline and promoted faster recovery. Thus, the researchers concluded that forgiveness significantly plays a role in reducing blood pressure levels and promoting cardiovascular recovery from stress.

Another study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology also claimed that harboring anger and hostility most likely leads to a higher risk of having coronary heart disease. These include conditions such as heart attack, especially among those who have a history of the disease.

Forgiveness Improves Physiological Health

Clinical psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Neda F. Gould suggested that acts of forgiveness are correlated with holding on to anger. She claimed that anger is a form of stress which causes a chronic fight or flight response. The latter wears and tears the body. According to her, forgiveness prevents the body from resorting to the response and this positively impacts one’s physiological health.

As per a study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, people who have high levels of lifetime stress improved their mental health through forgiveness. Another study published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine echoed the findings that forgiveness decreases stress levels.

How To Be Forgiving?

The emotional response is tied to either a person’s personality type or genetics. Some find it hard to forgive due to bad experiences with offenses, professor emeritus of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University Everett Worthington said. Worthington claimed that people who have been hurt experience an “injustice gap” that makes it difficult for them to forgive. When the offenders apologize and show remorse over the pain caused, the act reduces the injustice gap.

A study published in the International Journal of Psychology also suggested that people who pray frequently are more open to forgiving others.

I'm sorry A note of forgiveness saying I am sorry. Gerd Atimann/Pixabay