Fire was first controlled by humans somewhere between 250, 000 and 1.5 million years ago (depending on what evidence you find definitive). Since then its uses have included everything from cooking to fighting, warmth to relaxation. It has always been an integral part of human life however its calming properties are becoming increasingly forgotten in modern society. True appreciation of fire comes from those who still live nomadic lives and rely on it for their survival. In modern society, it is now an amenity you’re hoping to see when you’re buying a house or a natural disaster due to dry weather. However, the calming nature of an open flame is not totally forgotten. There’s no wonder why on all the sleep apps there is always the option for a crackling fire noise. As well as people using camping as an escape to the hectic pace so many of us live at.
Scientific research shows that sitting near a fire for just 15 minutes can induce feelings of calmness and relaxation, which grow stronger the longer you stay*. These benefits are attributed to the multi-sensory experience of watching a naked flame, including hypnotic visual stimulation, sound and warmth. It is believed fire satisfies the primal desires for warmth, while the flame illuminates darkness and provides comfort, also providing a place for social interaction, making it easier to communicate and develop social connections. This reiterates why camping is such a popular escape from daily life and a common way for families and friends to bond.
It seems Australians are more stressed than ever with 1 in 3 people admitting they have a significant amount of stress in their lives. Overall, stress can affect almost all the body’s natural systems and processes that help keep us healthy and happy. And fire is such a simple, no-fuss solution that may help people ease this stress. With respect to everyone who lost something during these fires that we are currently experiencing – unless you have a controlled, indoor fireplace now is not the time to be having your next bonfire party. And you should always check with the local fire department before lighting a fire outside and make sure all permits are in place.
*Lynn CD. Evol Psychol 2014;12(5):983–1003