There's nothing better than lighting a fire in the hearth, letting the dancing flames and the occasional snap, crackle, or pop wash the cares of the day off your shoulders and lull you into comfort and complete relaxation. Did you know that research shows there are health benefits to cozying up by the fire? Not only do fires significantly lower blood pressure but they also promote pro-social behaviors.
The Crackling of a Fire Reduces Blood Pressure
In a study done by the University of Alabama, 226 people were asked to observe a video of a roaring fireplace with sound and without sound. Their blood pressure was taken before and after viewing the fire.
As it turns out, listening to the crackling of a fire leads to reduced blood pressure. The longer the participants watched and listened to the fire, the lower their blood pressure became. However, the people that watched the video without sound showed varying levels of increased blood pressure. Brain scans also showed that when the flames and noise are simulated in a laboratory, they’ll still reduce blood pressure.
Fire Relaxes Us
The reason we experience this calming response is because our senses become absorbed in the experience, allowing our minds to fall into resting mode. Gone are the daily worries and stress-inducing thoughts. Instead, our mind and body begin to relax, and our blood pressure consequently drops.
Fire Helps Us Connect
How does sitting around the fire increase socialization? Humans are social creatures; we need to be connected to be happy and healthy. In our relaxed state we are more likely to create positive conversation, find common interests, and help other people.
So, as you sit around the cozy fire with your family and friends this winter, take a second to appreciate the fact that the very fire you're sitting around is a tool you can use not only to keep you warm but to live a happier and healthier life!