These winter months bring with them the shortest daylight hours of the year, which often force us to face the importance of positive mental health. Multiple studies have shown that some major combatants to unhealthy mental patterns are sleep, diet, and exercise. However, studies have revealed another important fighter in the battle for improved mental health – the fireplace.
That’s right, we at Winston’s Chimney Service love to talk about the benefits of having a fireplace in your home and, believe it or not, improved mental health is one of them.
Can a Fireplace Improve Mental Health?
Can a fireplace improve both physical and mental health? You bet.
🔥 Effects on High Blood Pressure
A three-year long study at the University of Alabama has shown some fascinating and revealing results when it comes to mental health and fire.
The study, led by Dr. Christopher Lynn, took 226 participants and began by measuring a series of biological factors, including blood pressure. The participants were then shown a video of a fire in a fireplace – first without sound and then with the sound of crackling logs. The participants were monitored during and after the video and the results indicate some important things:
- The act of watching fire has the ability to lower blood pressure. The science shows that, even without the sound, the ambiance of a fire can lower blood pressure.
- When sound was added to the video, participants’ blood pressure consistently dropped even lower. The longer they listened, the lower and more consistently blood pressure dropped – and the more relaxed the viewers became.
High blood pressure, often referred to as hypertension, is linked to many negative health effects and increases the risk of heart attack or stroke. Hypertension affects veins and arteries which forces the heart to work harder. If hypertension is ignored the risk of stroke and heart attack is dramatically increased. High blood pressure is no laughing matter.
In addition to the physical consequences of high blood pressure, studies have shown correlations between anxiety and depression. Long story short… when physical health is improved, there is potential for mental health to improve, as well. This is good news for any fireplace owner.
🔥 The Calming Effect of Fire
When we gaze at fire our bodies relax and we drift into a daydream-like state. This allows our minds to relax and take a break from the worries and demands that come with daily living. You don’t forget about your problems altogether, but you are able to correctly discern which needs are the most pressing.
Naturally, as we watch the flickering flames, our anxiety takes a backseat to our newly-thought-out and organized understanding of what is most important.
🔥 Positive Social Implications
The researchers noted that participants had increased desire for social engagement after watching and listening to the fire. This is also positive news for mental health. Often when one is suffering from a mental health disorder they both feel alone while at the same time do not desire to connect in community with anyone. Research has shown that fire can help someone want to connect.
Our History With Fire
Anthropologists postulate that fire is a deep part of our evolutionary history. From the time we gained control over fire we have been using it to ward off danger, hunt, cook, warm ourselves, and give light to darkness. Before fire, we had to be constantly on guard, never able to take a break from protecting ourselves. Fire allowed us freedom to sleep safely and warmly, eat safely by cooking what we ate, and see in the dark.
So deeply ingrained in the human psyche are the benefits of fire that when we gaze upon a dancing flame we are comforted, put at ease, and able to experience those same feelings of protection, nourishment, and ease. We are able to relax, think clearly, and prioritize the things we need to do next.
Having a fireplace gives you the opportunity to connect to humans throughout millenia who have used fire for its physical and mental benefits.
Call Our Crew Today
Winston’s Chimney Service is dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of our customers and our community. We provide a team of highly trained and knowledgeable individuals who want to see the people of Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, and Washington DC experience the many benefits – both physically and mentally – of having a fireplace in your home.
Call us at today at 703-379-5006 or reach out to us online, so that we can help you assess what sort of fireplace would be best for your home and family.