How Forgiveness Affects Your Health

Have you ever been hurt deeply by someone?

Do you replay it over and over again in your mind?

Is it taking up space in your life?

Whether you know it or not, it’s affecting your health.


Being angry over something that was done to you, and replaying it over and over again in your mind will affect you. I know, because it has affected me.

Holding on to anger, resentment and bitterness can make us anxious, and depressed and it’s not hard to see why. Studies have found that bitter people have higher blood pressure and our more likely to die from heart disease than forgiving people.

I’ve noticed that on the days that my anxiety is the worse, is usually the days that I’m replaying those scenes over in my head. The interesting thing about this, is that our brains can’t recognize what is a real and what isn’t. Our bodies end up reacting as if we are having the same experience over and over again.

When we experience negative feelings our bodies get ready to fight. Staying in a “fight” state for an extended period of time can increase the amount of C-reactive protein in our bloodstream that can potentially, increase our risks of heart disease. Scary, but also very interesting if you ask me.

Prolonged feelings of resentment can also negatively impact metabolism, which can affect our weight. It can also affect our immune response and organ functions, and like I said earlier, these feelings put us at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression.

It’s no surprise that doing the opposite of being bitter and angry is going to benefit us.

What forgiveness isn’t.

There was a time when I felt that I didn’t know HOW to forgive. Some days I still struggle with letting things go. There’s a part of me that feels like people talk about forgiveness too much. It seems like it’s the first thing that people want to say to me.

Forgiveness isn’t saying that what they did to you is okay.

For victims of domestic violence, coming to an understanding of what the wrong was that was done to them is a process. For people in this situation, I’d say, don’t feel guilty for not knowing how to forgive right now. You first have to come to an understanding of the wrong done to you.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to let that person back into your life.

You can forgive someone without them being your friend or making them part of your family. For people who are trying to forgive an abuser, I’d say be really careful about how close you allow them to get to you again. Maybe not forever, but if you need space, don’t be afraid or feel guilty for keeping your distance.

The benefits of forgiving

Hard or easy, the benefits of forgiveness are evident.

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self esteem

Forgiveness engages the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your immune system function more efficiently. This makes room for feel-good hormones like serotonin and Oxycontin.

I have to say, the more I let go of anger and bitterness, the more room I have in my heart and mind for the things that bring joy. When we are constantly thinking and obsessing over the hurt done to us, we miss out on so much of life.

The more I let go, the more time I have to spend loving my husband, my puppy and my friends. The more I let go, the more room I have in my mind for my goals and dreams, and the more motivation I am able to put towards achieving them.

I don’t ever want to let some ones actions take up so much space in my mind again.

What about you? Do you have bitterness and anger eating you up? Are you looking for some sweet relief?

It is possible to forgive even when we have experienced unimaginable pain. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it is possible.

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