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5 Ways Forgiveness Can Benefit Your Life

5 Ways Forgiveness Can Benefit Your Life

Take a moment and ask yourself –  what are you holding onto? It’s a question we don’t often stop to consider but we should, because too many of us are shouldering anger or resentment, a slight that we just never got over. And it’s apparent in our stress levels and health. Simply put, it’s hurting us.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can help to stop the damage with a single act. We can forgive.

Too often we hold onto unpleasant memories long after we should because it’s hard to forgive. After all, who can forget that girl in high school who made their life miserable? Or that boss who passed them over for a job promotion that they deserved? A father who maybe wasn’t there when he should have been?

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But ask yourself – what are these memories doing to you? How are they affecting your body and health? As Dr. Karen Swartz stated, “There is an enormous physical burden to being hurt and disappointed.”

Forgiveness may be difficult, but its positive effects on our physical and mental health are mounting. And it can be cultivated through practice. Need reasons to give it a try? Here are five that you can check on.

1. It reduces stress and stress-related disorders.

Research has repeatedly shown the negative impact of stress on our health. But evidence is accumulating on the positive role forgiveness can play in disrupting this cycle.

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For example, a recent study of 338 adults showed that greater forgiveness was associated over time with less stress and, as a consequence, better mental health. Another study by the same author found that forgiveness  caused the relationship between stress and mental illness to disappear. In a recent interview, the lead researcher stated that “If you don’t have forgiving tendencies, you feel the raw effects of stress in an unmitigated way. You don’t have a buffer against that stress.”

Given the immense problem of stress in our society, forgiveness may be one way to reduce its impact and help out our health in the process.

2. It can lower depression.

Carrying around unresolved anger, pain, and resentment can take a toll on our mental health. Research suggests that “forgiveness therapy”, which is intended to foster forgiveness, can be helpful in alleviating depression.

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Forgiveness of oneself is also helpful in reducing depression, as an earlier study also reported that self-forgiveness decreased depression and, consequently, also reduced the rates of suicide. Considering forgiveness as a two-sided process – one aimed at forgiving others and another at forgiving yourself – may help bolster mood and emotional health.

3. It protects your heart.

We feel this both physically and metaphorically. Numerous studies have found that forgiveness lowers blood pressure, and a recent one showed that it also improved a marker of coronary perfusion.

Forgiveness can help prevent damage to the heart but also reduce problematic symptoms in those with heart disease. One study analyzed individuals with coronary artery disease who experienced anger-recall induced changes in myocardial perfusion. They divided subjects into two groups –a control and a forgiveness group. Not surprisingly, they found that those in the forgiveness group showed decreased anger-recall induced myocardial perfusion defects. In other words, the function of their heart improved. And, of course, no data can quantify the effect on one’s heart when we release the burden of anger.

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4. It can strengthen relationships.

Even the best of relationships can suffer from miscommunication, perceived slights, and insult. We can hold this close to us, vowing never to forget, but that does nothing to allow a relationship to grow. Furthermore, it is likely to skew our perspective of the other’s intentions and feelings towards us. What starts as something small can then snowball into a much bigger problem.

Rather, learning to forgive and even understand another’s viewpoint can foster the growth of a relationship. For example, a study found that forgiveness was the one variable that predicted growth following an infidelity. Forgiveness is crucial to letting go and moving forward.

5. It can help you reach your potential.

We all have dreams and aspirations but are often quick to beat ourselves up for the poor choices we made, the missteps we took, and the people we naively trusted. And too often we don’t forgive ourselves for our perceived wrong-doings. This becomes a heavy weight to carry. It colors our trust in ourselves, confidence in our abilities, and belief in our future. It can materialize as depression and anxiety, low self-worth, and an unwillingness to take risks and put ourselves out there.

If we don’t practice self-forgiveness, we may limit our potential. We may undercut our abilities and second-guess our decisions. We may never summon the courage to do what we really dream of doing. We may never give the world the unique gifts we have to offer.

Forgiveness is healing for our body and mind. If we all were to dedicate ourselves to cultivating it, the world might be a much better place.

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Last Updated on May 22, 2019

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

10 Simple Morning Exercises That Will Make You Feel Great All Day

There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.

One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing.[1] According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.[2]

In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.[3]

Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.

1. Cat Camel Stretch

Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.

Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.

Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.

Here’s a video to guide you through:

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2. Go for a Walk or a Run

This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.

Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!

The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.

Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.

Learn more about the benefits of running here: 8 Benefits of Running 5 Minutes Every Day You Didn’t Know

3. Jumping Jacks

Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.”[4] They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.

Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:

4. Abductor Side Lifts

Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.[5]

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Do about 10 to 15 raises for each side like this:

5. Balancing Table Pose

This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.

Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.

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    6. Leg Squats

    Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees.

    Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.

    The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.[6]

    7. Push Ups

    You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.

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    An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.

    Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.

    This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.

    8. Bicycle Crunches

    There are numerous crunch exercises targeting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups. Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.

    Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:

    9. Lunges

    Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.

    Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.

    This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.

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    10. Bicep Curls

    You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.

    Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.

    Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.

    Here’re some important notes before you start doing this exercise:

    Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.

    These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles.[7] In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.

    You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.

    Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better![8] Start including one or some of these exercises in your morning routine!

    More Articles About Exercises for Beginners

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

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