The nourishment of color

I recently painted my office blue. It is a very green-blue, you may not perceive it as such until you actually bring a blue object into the room and place it against the wall and see how green it is, so for now you may just need to take my word for it that it is a very ‘warm green-blue’. I chose the color because it is known to soothe and being in the business of stress reduction I need all the help I can get when folk walk over that threshold. It has only been that color for a couple of weeks and already many people have commented that it is ‘life affirming’ or ‘calming’ so it seems to be having the desired impact.

The obvious downside being that between sessions I need to work in that office and it is also a known fact that the blue quality can evoke quite a ‘dreamy’ state so I purposefully painted one of the walls a creamy white so while I work and raise my head from my computer I rest my eyes on something a little more neutral. If I faced that green-blue wall all day I assure you NOTHING would get done.

Chromotherapy, sometimes called color therapy is an alternative medicine method that people have been using for years for many ailments including anxiety and insomnia. Others have used color as a ‘secret weapon’ painting the ‘away-team’ locker room colors that suppress adrenaline (The Lakers would definitely become all sedentary in my office).

Color can also increase appetite, painting a senior center’s dining room a warm red/orange will increase the occupant’s appetites which is often desired. Prison inmates wear those pink/peach overalls to help with aggression and the reason hospitals are painted that ‘hospital’ color is that our tranquilizing hormones respond to it. We also perceive objects as being heavier or lighter based on their color, so if you are known to need a large purse, make sure it is light-green not brown and you will think that it is lighter even if you have loaded it with the kitchen sink!!

There are obviously nuances based on our individual tastes but generally here is how color makes us feel –

Painting a wall red will not only enhance our sense of smell and taste but our sense of time can also be distorted. Complex forms of red e.g Rose, Pink, Burgandy are all expressive and emotional, sometimes sexy and can counteract melcancholy.

Primary yellow is the first color we see and it will appear larger than other colors. It is used a lot in advertising for this very purpose. Lots of bright primary yellow can actually cause anxiety especially in the very young and the elderly.

Primary Blue is the USA’s favorite color. Blue is seen as very positive, and conveys loyalty and trust.
In modified forms e.g in pale colors it can encourage fantasy and be calming but pale blue in wide expanses can also come across as ‘cold’ and give people the ‘blues’. Mid range blued are pleasing and restful.

Orange is a ‘fun’ color and it makes us hungry. We love to eat orange things, it communicates affordability, however in big expanses it is another color that might loose its fun and make us feel restless. A lighter peach color will make us feel healthy!

Green is the color of life. It gives us the feeling of balance, reduces muscular and nervous tension and has been found to help digestion. The darker the green the more expensive we perceive it.

Purple aids one ability to think and gain clarity.

Black has both positive and negative connotations and is the ultimate power color and very sophisticated. It can be used with other colors to add drama to our lives.

Gray aids our creativity and provides an atmosphere of exclusivity. Gray is more about intellect than emotion.

White suggests purity and innocence, a cool white will increase one’s precision but a lot of it can cause fatigue. Warm whites that contain a hint of color can bring warmth.

Brown has earthy associations, it is a comfortable and non intimidating color.

Are you always hungry in your orange lounge? Been wondering why you can’t sleep soundly in your yellow bedroom? Realize you always feel more relaxed in rooms that are green?

Which room might you consider painting this weekend?

© The Red Barn Cooperative – Working together to nourish lives
A Red Barn Coaching initiative

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