Have you ever wondered why you drive faster in a red car? Or, why you feel lethargic and bored in a grey office building? The answer lies in how your body responds to color.
Everyone reacts to colors in different ways, according to the social and cultural circumstances of their childhood. But, people also have an instinctive reaction to color that is suggested to have developed as an evolutionary change to help us identify danger.
Color has often been used in marketing, art, and design to elicit an emotional response from their audience. However, psychologists now believe the effect colors have on the mind and body may be more profound than they first thought.
The Science of Color
Colors are perceived by us as light wavelengths that are reflected at us from an object, and depend on the frequency of the wavelength and whether they are absorbed or reflected. But, research suggests that our brains may be hardwired to be more receptive to some colors than others. One of the colors that elicits the greatest emotional response is the color blue.
Another study demonstrates how blue affects our emotional state and physical state. It reports that when the walls of a classroom were changed from orange and white to light and royal blue, there was a 17% decrease in the blood pressure of the students, who were also observed to behave more calmly and have longer attention spans. Once the room was returned to its original décor, the students’ blood pressure returned to their initial readings, and their aggressive behavior resumed.
The results of these studies, among others, indicate that blue can both have a positive impact on our body’s response to stress by reducing our physiological reaction to stressors, and it can also help to control your mood.
How You Can Use Blue to Reduce Stress
- Go Outside
Grey winter days can feel bleak and have a depressing effect on our mood. But, on the rare days when the sun comes out, head outside and soak up a little vitamin D, and enjoy the best natural source of stress-busting blue there is–the sky.
One of the biggest reasons blue is considered the best color for reducing stress is due to its association with the sea and the sky. The sky represents depth, infinity, and tranquility; all qualities which can induce a sense of calm.
Just 15 minutes spent outside can significantly reduce your stress levels. Spend this time mindfully gazing at the sky, noticing the clarity of the light blue, and the shifting shapes of the clouds. Combine this with some rhythmic deep breathing techniques, and feel your stress melt away.
- Use Blue Gemstones
Feng shui practitioners have long used color as part of their practice to balance energy and create harmony in the body and home. Gemstones can play a big part in their practice as they are formed through natural processes, and are thought to contain the elements that produced them.
Sapphire and lapis lazuli are commonly placed in the home to promote a sense of calm. But, another calming gemstone is aquamarine. Raw aquamarine is the stone associated with sea water and is considered to contain the feminine yin energy. Because of this connection with deep, flowing water, it is regarded as an excellent gem for purifying your personal energy, and promoting deeper meditative states.
Not only does aquamarine promote relaxation, but it is also stunningly beautiful. Create a gorgeous bracelet of aquamarine beads, so you can practice relaxation, and improve your mood wherever you go.
- Get Creative
The use of specific color combinations and patterns in artwork have been linked with a reduction in stress, and most of this calming artwork centers around the color blue. Some artists, such as renowned light and color engineer Leanne Venier, create pieces specifically tailored to produce a sense of calm while viewing them.
Another creative way that has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress is art therapy. One art therapy exercise that is often used to explore mood is to paint your emotions. You can apply the same principle to create your artwork, and use calming shades of blue to enhance the relaxation process.
- Use “Wearapy”
The clothes we choose express our style and our personality, and often we select an outfit based on the way we feel at that moment. But, our clothes also have the power to change our mood.
Your little black dress can make you feel empowered and sexy, while a soft, yellow sweater can lift your mood in an instant. Blue, on the other hand, has the power to calm you when you feel stressed or upset.
This makes the color blue the ideal choice to wear in potentially stressful situations. An outfit featuring a light blue item can diffuse the tension on a first date, and help both parties feel more relaxed so you can make a good first impression. While darker blue shades, such as navy, are an excellent choice for a job interview or public speaking engagement, as the color not only encourages tranquility and calm, but it is also associated with trustworthiness and reliability.
- Create a Tranquil Living Space
Interior designers have long understood the power of color to influence emotional states, create optical illusions of space and light, and bring an atmosphere into the home. They often base their color selection on the principle that color acts in three ways: passive, active, and neutral. This depends on the saturation and hue of a color, which play a significant role in the effect that the color has on you.
Although blue is considered a tranquil color, too light a shade can give a room a sterile, uninviting look. While, dark blue shades can make large rooms seem small, and can evoke feelings of melancholy. The best option for creating a tranquil interior space is warm blue tones, such as cerulean or turquoise. And, the best rooms to use blue are in the bedroom and living area to encourage relaxation.
Prolonged stress can have an adverse impact on the mind and body, and has been linked to diseases from hypertension to cancer, and persistent negative moods can be indicative of a deeper underlying problem. These therapeutic suggestions are an effective way to alleviate everyday stress, but if you continue to feel stressed, consult with a healthcare professional.