By Charlotte Burns

After what could be called a balmy June, winter has definitely arrived in Geelong with frosty mornings and chilly evenings. Getting up from a nice warm bed in the seasonal dark is definitely a struggle, and with our Vitamin D stores starting to deplete, it is absolutely no surprise that we all feel a little sluggish in the winter. 

For many of us, seasonal affective disorder sets in as the days become shorter, the sun goes into hiding and we’re cooped up in stuffy heated offices on our working days. However, there’s a surefire way to find light in the gloom.

Sit by the fire.

Sitting by the flames, your mental health and wellbeing will improve after a matter of minutes. It’s thought that the distinctive flickering light, sounds of crackling wood and smoky aromas instil a primitive level of calm and peace.

Eddie Dorris from Geelong’s Coastal Fireplaces describes having a fireplace as a mindset where you can completely relax and embrace the comfort. 

“I would compare sitting by the fireplace to a sort of meditation,” Eddie said, “when you are so wrapped up in your life, being able to switch mindsets is amazing.” 

While open fireplaces can cause health problems, Coastal Fireplaces recommends new wood heaters or gas fireplaces for safely encased flames and smoke, or making the most of winter with an outdoor fire pit.

How does a fire help our wellbeing?

Stress melts away 

When you are sitting by the fire, the warmth encases you and your anger and stresses seem like a distant memory. According to a study completed by the University of Alabama, sitting next to a fire actually decreases your blood pressure. 

“I could be running around all day and step into the showroom and just relax immediately,” Eddie explains, “a fire gives you the sense to slow down, catch your breath and take your time.” 

Social Gathering

Fires are communal. Our ancestors have gathered around them for centuries. Even way back when, a fire was a way to hang out with people and get to know them in a warmly lit and serene environment.

Knowing the appeal, it’s easy to see why Eddie chose to do business with fireplaces. “If someone has a fireplace or a fire pit, I know where everyone is hanging out on a Saturday night,” he reveals. 

Fireside Food

Toasted marshmallows, s’mores, baked potatoes and more, there’s nothing quite like cooking on open flames in the great outdoors. When you are sitting outside rugged up in your Kathmandu puffer jacket under the stars, you know you want to show your mates you make a mean damper.

The smokiness and earthy flavours we love from open fire cooking is reminiscent of the early cooking practices of our ancestors, not to mention bringing back some of those childhood memories of sitting round a campfire – or making new ones with your own kids.

Simply Magic 

“The flames are always changing, evolving and I know when I sit in front of a fire, I relax and it changes my mood. It’s an escape from everything else,” Eddie reflects. You have to agree, there’s something about fires that are truly magical.  

As the fire warms your soul, the embers glow and the wood crackles, you become completely entranced in the flames and how the fire grows and dies. The focus allows every other stressor to disappear and happiness to settle in.

What are you waiting for? Get the fire started.