People who are more forgiving can better handle stress
According to a recent study published in the Journal of Health Psychology, the act of forgiveness is a mental health saver. The research, conducted with 148 young adults and published in June 2016, studied the effects of lifetime stress on a person’s mental health, and how those who forgave more fared compared to those who had trouble with forgiveness towards themselves as well as others.
Results indicated that people with greater exposure to stress over their lifetimes had worse mental and physical health, and high levels of forgiveness alone virtually eliminated the connection between stress and mental illness. The direct connection between forgiveness and mental well-being is hard to determine, but the researchers speculate that more forgiving people may adopt better coping skills to deal with stress, or their reaction to major stressors are milder.
According to study author Loren Toussaint, not having forgiving tendencies can make one feel the un-buffered effects of stress. The sample of people in the study is small, and more research is needed to fully understand the benefits of being more forgiving. He strongly believes that forgiveness can be learned. Many therapists work to cultivate forgiveness in sessions, he says, and his own prior research has shown that saying a short prayer or a brief meditation on forgiveness can help people soften the effects of stress.