Can a Fireplace Benefit Mental Health?
Books and movies have often depicted the trance-like state that people can find themselves in while staring at a flickering fire. Perhaps you have even experienced this sensation yourself. The longer you stare, the more it seems like you can’t stop staring – your mind quiets, your breathing slows, and your muscles relax.
Turns out, this experience is more common than you’d think. And, in fact, science is showing us that it can have many positive benefits for both your physical and mental health.
The Science Behind It
Dr. Christopher D. Lynn, a medical and psychological anthropologist at the University of Alabama, did a three-year long study that showed the effects of fire on human physical and mental health. His study observed hundreds of people as they watched and listened to a burning fire.
Participants in the study went through a series of biological measurements that included blood pressure, as well as psychological data. The participants then watched a video of a fire, first without sound, then with the crackling sound of the fire added to the video. And the results yield some interesting info…
- Dr. Lynn and his team observed a slight, yet varied, degree of decrease in blood pressure while the participants watched the fire.
- When sound was added, though, nearly all participants saw a dramatic decrease in blood pressure, as well as an increase in relaxation and feelings of calm.
- It was also determined that the longer a person gazed at flame and listened to the natural crackling sound that comes from burning wood, the healthier their blood pressure levels seemed to be.
Healthy blood pressure can indicate low anxiety, and lower risk of heart attack and stroke. People who suffer from chronic high blood pressure, or hypertension, run the risk of their heart overworking as it tries to maintain appropriate levels of oxygen and other necessities in the body.
Feelings of anxiety and depression have also been linked with high blood pressure. When blood pressure is lowered it is possible, if not likely, that anxiety and stress will decrease as well.
There’s no denying a correlation – and it’s one reason to take the plunge and invest in that new fireplace today.
Any Other Mental Health Benefits?
That study revealed some telling things, but what other benefits can a fireplace provide for mental health?
🧠 Reduced Anxiety.
When watching a fire our natural reaction is feelings of calm and peace. The mind is able to relax and slow down which allows thoughts to order themselves – and allows you to focus. Regular exposure to safely burning in-home fires in a fireplace is a proven way to relax and slow down – causing long lasting mental health benefits.
🧠 Desire to Socialize.
Another benefit that the study noted was a higher desire among participants to socialize and engage with other people. One of the symptoms of poor mental health is isolation, even as feelings of loneliness are present. Experiencing community with others has been linked to positive moods and strong mental health.
🧠 Positive Reflections.
Different smells can have different effects on people. The right scent has the power to mentally transport a person to specific times and places that they have connected to various feelings. The soothing aroma of burning wood is almost always linked with feelings of comfort, warmth, and relaxation.
The “Why” Behind the Benefits
As it often does, science has shown us what was already assumed to be true – that the presence of a safely burning fire provides benefits of relaxation and a better mood. It is no wonder streaming services, like Netflix, provide customers with the option to stream fireplace fires on the television.
But, what is it exactly about fire that triggers this ease of anxiety and increase in positive feelings?
Well, it seems there are some historical links. Humans have a long relationship with fire. Theories suggest that these positive reactions we have to the sound, light, and warmth of a fire are innate, instilled in us from our species first mastery over fire.
As the human species developed, fire allowed various advantages, such as seeing in the dark, warding off danger, and keeping warm in cold climates. Fire provided comfort, allowing our bodies and senses to relax. In addition to that, food consumption became safer as we were able to cook it.
Basically, fire allowed communities to eat together, serve each other, and fellowship with one another – all while gaining the peace of mind that comes with light, warmth, and safety. All of those things still show themselves to be true as we spend time around the fire today.
Reap the Benefits by Relying on Us
Lords Chimney specializes in designing and installing fireplaces that fit perfectly into the aesthetic of your home. Whatever your vision is for your fireplace, our team can help you decide on what type of fireplace would fit your needs – and we can install it too. Already own a fireplace? We are fully equipped to help you maintain it.
Call Lords Chimney or reach out to us online today to begin your fireplace ownership journey today.