When you think of owning a fireplace you likely imagine reading a book next to the glow and warmth of a flickering fire or enjoying the crackling and popping of the wood as it burns in the background of the daily going-ons of your home.
Anyone who regularly uses a fireplace can tell you that the benefits are many. Perhaps one of the most understated benefits of a fireplace, though, is its ability to relax your mind. There are quite a few mental health benefits that a fireplace can lend to its owners and their families, actually.
In fact, important scientific research is showing that sitting in front of a fire can have a positive effect on both the physical and mental health of the person enjoying it.
One study conducted at the University of Alabama has given researchers a glimpse into how important controlled fires have been to the development of the human psyche. Dr. Christopher Lynn, a medical and psychological anthropologist at the university took the lead on a three-year study that collected data on the effects that fire can have on physical and mental health. Some of the results may intrigue and inspire you.
🔥 Lower Blood Pressure
The study put subjects in front of a television that showed video of a fireplace fire with no sound. While watching the fire it was noted that many of the subjects began to see slight decreases in their blood pressure. This indicates that merely viewing the flames of a controlled fire has the ability to relax us.
After viewing the fire for some time the natural sounds of popping and crackling wood were added to the video. When the subjects both listened to and saw the controlled fire nearly all of them experienced a drastic decrease in blood pressure. Based on this data, researchers agree that sitting in the presence of a fire in a fireplace has the ability to lower your blood pressure.
🔥 Decrease in Anxiety
In addition to lower blood pressure, researchers noticed that many subjects would enter into a trance-like state. Their minds would focus, their breathing would slow, and even their muscles would relax. When interviewed, the subjects would describe their mind as clearing. This relaxed state allows the mind to properly think about and order the different tasks and worries that are normal in everyday life.
Acting almost as a form of meditation, watching a fire can help busy minds relax and priorities to be managed. This dramatically decreases anxiety and can actually lead to higher productivity following the time in front of the fire.
Scientists theorize that this is due to a deep rooted evolutionary phenomenon. When humans first began to control fire they could, for the first time, relax because with fire as a tool they could see in the dark and ward off predators and enemies. Early humans received comfort from fire and that experience continues with us today.
🔥 Increased Desire to Socialize
One surprising effect sitting in front of a fire had on test subjects was an increase in their desire to spend time with other people. This may seem minor, but positive social experiences can have a great impact on one’s mental health. Depression and anxiety are both linked with feelings of loneliness and isolation. It can be a vicious cycle too. Even though we feel lonely, depression can actually make us want to remain isolated from people.
For millennia, the main gathering place for humans was around a fire. Entire villages would gather around the fire to cook, eat, celebrate, mourn, and live together. Fire not only provided early humans with comfort and defense, but also acted as a central point for community and socializing.
Other Positive Effects of a Fireplace
The study above was replicated three times with a total of 226 subjects. The evidence was more than enough to claim that fires have a definitively positive impact on both physical and mental health. There are other important benefits to having a fireplace as well.
For instance, having a fireplace in your home can increase your home’s value and aesthetic. Knowing that your home looks fabulous and is desirable on the buying market is certain to provide the owner with some level of comfort.
And in cold months, a fireplace can help you localize heat and keep your heating bills low. There is often a surprising financial benefit to owning a fireplace as you notice gas and electric prices go down. This is another way to relieve some stress.
We’re Here for You
These are just a few of the ways fireplaces are beneficial to a home and a family. At Northeastern Masonry & Chimney we desire our community to thrive and we believe that owning a fireplace can help that happen.
We are experts in providing chimney, fireplace, and masonry services. Our highly trained team of technicians can help you with everything you need to start fully enjoying the benefits of a fireplace in your home. Call us today at 518-500-4048 or reach out online to get started.