Can you use colour psychology to influence and change your mood?
Colour is a crucial element in art and design and as such we often consider its application mainly for beautification and decoration. However, colour has also long been associated with the field of psychology, as it has a prevalent and powerful presence in our lives, going as far as influencing our minds and bodies.
Whether we realise it or not, colour is deeply personal and it is rooted in our experience and culture. Take the colour black, for example. In Western cultures, it may bring about connotations of sophistication and mystery but in Asian communities, black is often seen as the colour of mourning.Currently, colour psychology is mainly used in visual arts and marketing but it has yet to be fully understood and explored by the masses.
Evelyn Leong, a certified colour therapist from The School of Natural Health Sciences, UK, and founder of Colourzwork explains in simple terms: “Colour psychology is the study of colour in relation to human behaviour.” She goes on to explain that a person’s psychological state has profound implications on his or her physical state and moods. “Colour,” she clarifies, “acts as a language that helps us reveal hidden messages about our state of mind.”
For example, she notes, there are reasons why we are attracted to or repulsed by certain colours. Additionally, our colour preference may change as we grow older, experience a career shift, or recover from a broken relationship.
Influence on Body and Mind
Although colour psychology is a new topic for most of us, the effects of colour on the mind and body has long been appreciated by mankind. In fact, the ancient cultures of Egypt and China are known to practice chromotherapy, which is the use of colours in healing. This form of therapy is also known as “light therapy” or “colourology,” and it is still used today as a holistic or alternative treatment.
As an example, in this form of treatment, red may be used to increase circulation and stimulate the body and mind; yellow may be used to purify the body and stimulate the nerves; orange may be used to heighten energy levels and aid respiratory function; blue may be used to treat pain and soothe illnesses and indigo may be applied in the alleviation of skin problems.
But while colour is believed to have an influence on our bodies, how can it have an impact on our moods? “We describe certain emotions such as seeing red, feeling blue and being green with envy,” says Evelyn, “Which relate to the idea that colour and mood are inextricably linked.”
However, she goes on to explain, that colour can influence our moods based on our multiple levels of association with colours. “For example, when we look at red, it increases our heart rate since it is socially linked with fire trucks, danger and alarm,” says Evelyn, “But on a personal relationship level, green may create a positive association, simply because it was the colour of your playroom when you were young.”
The association between colour and how we feel is further evidenced by how we subconsciously “play around” with colours in our daily lives, particularly in our clothes, make up or accessories. While it is feasible that colours and moods are interrelated, the question still remains – can colour really be used to change our moods?
“We can use colours to create the type of mood we desire. For instance, for a first date, I will recommend clothes in turquoise with a soft texture, as it helps to create a relaxed first impression and mood,” says Evelyn. She adds that blue is associated with trustworthiness and dependability.
Prison Wall Pink and Fast Food Yellow
Evelyn also shares several examples of how colour psychology has been used around the world to alter moods. For example, in prison, walls are often painted a soft pink as it has been shown to reduce aggressiveness and violent behaviour amongst inmates. In some hospitals, green and blue are used as they promote calmness and healing, while white is used to create a sense of sterility.
Also, some workplaces use a green colour scheme, as there is evidence to suggest that this results in less absenteeism through illness. Does it all seem far-fetched to you? Well, let’s have a look at how colour can have such an effect on the human mind.
“Attached to the human brain is the pineal gland,” says Evelyn. “This controls the daily rhythms of life.” She goes on to explain that when light enters through the eyes or skin, it travels along neurological pathways to this pineal gland. “Different colours give off different wavelength frequencies, and these different frequencies have different effects on us.”
Some colour wavelengths are longer than others, Evelyn stresses. For example, blues and greens have shorter wavelengths, making us calm. Meanwhile, reds and yellows have longer wavelengths, making us alert. This is why many fast food companies use reds and yellows in their branding and packaging, as it attracts our gaze more easily and stimulates the appetite.
According to Evelyn, we also tend to associate certain colours with specific meanings and symbols. “It can be due to cultural, social and gender influences,” she explains, “But while perceptions of colour are somewhat subjective, there are some colour effects that have universal meaning.”
Warm colours, like red, orange and yellow, for example, tend to universally evoke feelings of warmth and comfort, seduction, as well as anger and hostility. Meanwhile, cool colours like blue, purple and green are widely associated with calmness and tranquility, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.
Improving Life with Colours
Once we have a clearer understanding of how colours work and affect us, it is possible for us to use colour to improve our daily lives. “The key,” says Evelyn, “is knowing the colour to enhance for a particular day, based on our purpose.” She says that this can be achieved by including the desired colour in several ways including:
- Eating natural foods and fruits which contain the desired colour
- Being in a room painted with the desired colour
- Wearing something which represents the desired colour
- Switching on lighting with the desired colour (maximum 15 mins)
- Lighting up aromatherapy oil with the desired colour (example: chamomile oil is blue).
- Colour breathing and visualisation
Last, but not least, Evelyn advises, “Colour psychology is powerful knowledge and it can help us to set our life goals, based on what we desire to achieve on a daily basis or our short term and long term goals.”
Colourzwork For You
Evelyn’s new book Colourzwork For You, offers in depth understanding about colour psychology and therapy. She shares with readers about all the colour attributes of the 9 main colour personalities. In addition, Evelyn also reveals how to set goals in relationships, career, health, family and finance or even change your leadership style by applying colour therapy tools. To learn more about Evelyn’s book, logon to www.colourzwork.com and facebook/colourzwork.