When long nights and cold weather settle in, there’s no better place to cozy up then in front of the fireplace. Almost everyone would agree that there is something comforting – even mesmerizing – about sitting in front of the warmth and glow of a fire that is burning strong. In fact, in books and movies you’ll often see a warm fireplace scene accompanying moments of peace and community.
What researchers are finding is that these portrayals of fire as a source of mental and physical comfort aren’t so far off. Recent studies are showing that sitting in front of a crackling fire can have lots of positive mental effects – putting at ease even the most tense among us.
The Studies Behind the Science
Psychological and medical anthropologist, Dr. Christopher Lynn, conducted a three-year study on the effects of watching a fire. He was trying to answer that question – why is a fire seem so mesmerizing? Over a series of tests, Dr. Lynn observed 226 participants, noting how their body and mind would react to gazing at a fire.
The tests took note of various biological and psychological metrics among participants. First, the subjects were observed while they watched a video of a fire flickering in a fireplace with no sound. While watching the video, it was found that many of the participants saw a slight decrease in blood pressure. This finding seemed to confirm that there is at least some benefit to watching a fire.
These findings were further confirmed, to a much greater degree, when participants watched the fire with the sound on. Nearly all of the test subjects saw a dramatic decrease in blood pressure. This led to deep relaxation and the subjects entering a trance-like state.
Other Mental Perks of Owning a Fireplace
Dr. Lynn’s study provides empirical evidence that sitting in front of a fire in your home can have a positive impact on both physical and mental health. These positive benefits of fire-gazing seem to bring about a list of other positive perks, as well.
When sitting in front of a fire and watching the flames your mind is likely to enter into a type of meditation that clears the mind of clutter and allows you to subconsciously file and store information that you’ve collected. This sort of brain organization tends to lower stress levels, as tasks and problems are correctly prioritized and no longer overwhelming. Lower stress and higher focus lead to more productivity and higher levels of happiness. Perhaps this is why so many businesses and companies are putting fireplaces into their offices.
The benefits don’t stop there. The increased desire to socialize that can come from watching a fire can also lead to lower stress. When we spend time with people, we combat the feelings of loneliness that often accompany conditions like seasonal affective disorder and depression.
Finally, perhaps one of the most important outcomes of lower blood pressure and stress levels is improved sleep patterns. There is loads of evidence showing the importance of sleep to physical and mental health. When your mind is clear and your stress is low, you tend to sleep deeper and longer, which in turn leads to healthier habits and improved mental health.
The “Why” Behind the Data
So, you get – fireplaces are good for you in lots of ways. But why do humans tend to gain so much from flames and fire?
Researchers believe that these benefits come from an innate need for fire that extends throughout our history as humans. When early humans harnessed fire and began to control it, they began to experience benefits to everyday living that they had never had before.
- Fire provided them warmth. This meant that, even if you weren’t able to obtain adequate pelts for clothing, you were able to stay warm at night and during cold months.
- Fire provided them the ability to see in the dark. This comes in handy when you are trying to avoid dangers, such as animals and other humans.
- Fire provided them the ability to cook their food. When you can cook food, especially meat, eating is safer.
- Fire empowered them to socialize. As humans began to settle into communities, the benefits of fire became a central part of society. People would gather around large fires in the middle of the village to cook, eat, and socialize without danger.
It’s not a stretch to see how lower blood pressure, relaxation, lower stress, higher mental clarity, and the desire to socialize are all brought about by being close to a fire.
Rely On Us for Your Fireplace Needs
Integrity Chimney wants you to be able to experience all the benefits of having a pleasurable and comfortable fire in your home. We can help you find the most appropriate appliance for your home, help you install it, and make sure it stays running well for the long haul.
Call us today at 570-221-4113 to get started and start reaping the benefits of a fireplace in your home. We’d love to speak with you soon.