Mental Health

The power of forgiveness: It can improve your mental health

Researchers observed more than 4,500 people from several different countries to reach their conclusion.

A person receiving counseling

There appears to be a major benefit to forgiving someone who hurt or offended you. 

According to Harvard researchers, the act of forgiveness can have a positive impact on your mental health. 

Researchers observed more than 4,500 people from several different countries to reach their conclusion. 

Some of those participating in the study were given a "forgiveness workbook" with self-directed exercises that helps one understand more about the act of forgiving. 

The workbooks reportedly take about two hours to complete. 

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After two weeks, those who completed the exercises reported reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety compared to those who had not yet received the workbooks. 

The study notes that previous research has shown the benefits of forgiveness; however, a therapist was typically utilized. The use of a workbook could be a game-changer for mental health, according to researchers, as it's more accessible and less costly than a therapist. 

"The workbooks used in the present study are available in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Ukrainian, and Indonesian,making them accessible without cost to more than two-thirds of the world’s population in their native language," the study says. 

Forgiveness can mean a lot of different things to different people. Aware of the challenges, the researchers say "it is important to distinguish forgiveness from excusing, forgetting, reconciling, forbearing or not demanding justice."