Practicing Forgiveness as a Path to Heart Health

The Health Benefits of Forgiveness - South Denver Cardiology

We talk a lot about how your diet and exercise habits can affect your heart health as they are a significant factor in what causes heart disease—but what about your emotions? At South Denver Cardiology, we offer stress testing, since stress is known to be a major contributing factor to heart disease. One thing that this stress testing reveals time and time again is grudges, bad blood, and a lack of forgiveness. Whether it’s to a friend, a relative, or one’s self, many people have trouble with forgiveness, and it causes enormous stress, putting your heart at risk.

What Is Forgiveness?

The Greater Good Science Center at University of California – Berkeley defines forgiveness as “a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”

The key word there is release. It’s one thing just to say that something is okay and stifling your real resentment about it; it’s another to decide that the resentment is not worth feeling anymore and releasing both yourself and whomever you resented from its shackles.

What are the Health Benefits of Forgiveness?

Forgiveness may not carry any health benefits in and of itself; rather, the health effects of not forgiving are so negative that forgiveness, by saving people from these effects, is extremely positive.

First, forgiveness relieves stress. Harboring resentment against someone is extremely stressful; not only does it strain the relationship between the two people, it makes the person feel more angry, irritable, depressed, and not in control. The person will even experience heightened physiological activity, such as facial muscle tension, high blood pressure, and sweating.

The stress of not forgiving can also affect your sleep. It can keep you awake, wake you up in the middle of the night, and cause fatigue throughout the day. These will only exacerbate your stress.

Crucially, all this stress can raise your blood pressure, which can have devastating long-term effects on your heart health. Forgive the people in your life, forgive yourself, and you will have a happier, healthier, and longer life.

How To Use This Information

At South Denver Cardiology, we take your emotional health and stress level as seriously as your heart health; in fact, we see them as one in the same. That’s why we offer stress testing and encourage you to practice forgiveness. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (303) 744-1065 or contact us online.