Ever notice how you feel instantly calm near a warm, crackling fire? According to Alexander, there’s a very good (and evolutionary) reason why: “The crackling of fire for a very long time has been an indicator to your autonomic nervous system that you’re safe,” he notes. “You’re protected, you’re warm, you’re sitting around the fire, you’re sharing stories, you’re connecting with people. The predators are going to stay away, because they’re scared of the fire.”
One 2014 study of 226 participants even found that hearth and campfires could induce relaxation and lower blood pressure. Now, you might be thinking: Great, I don’t have a fireplace. But according to Alexander, virtual fires work just as well! “I go on YouTube and put a crackling fire on the TV,” he shares. Plus, the aforementioned study used simulated fires as well–so long as you have those soothing, crackling sounds, you should be all set.