I am one of those people who loves a good fire in the fireplace. I am certainly not alone. A crackling fire has an almost magic power to draw us in.
Now part of that magic has been documented through a study published in a recent edition of the journal, Evolutionary Psychology. The title of this article says it all: “Hearth and Campfire Influences on Arterial Blood Pressure: Defraying the Costs of the Social Brain through Fireside Relaxation.” Christopher Dana Lynn, an anthropologist at the University of Alabama, studied what happens to human beings who sit by a fire. He found measurable decreases in blood pressure, which are even greater with longer exposure.
Curiously, Lynn also found that watching a fire without sound, on a computer screen, for example, does not have a calming effect. In fact, he wonders if the sound of a fire might actually be “more influential than the visual component.” This remains to be tested.
Now, to be sure, part of the magic of a fire is visual. We love to watch it dance and swirl. Add in the sound and you’re on your way to blood-pressure lowering calm, not to mention visual delight.
So, if you’re feeling a little tense today, go sit by a fire!