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 reflectedat 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 colorsthan others. One of the colors that elicits the greatestemotional response is the color blue.
Another study demonstrates how blue affectsour emotional stateand physical state. It reports that when the walls of a classroom were changedfrom 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 calmlyand have longer attention spans. Once the room was returnedto 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 practiceas 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 waterand is considered to contain the feminine yin energy. Because of this connection with deep, flowing water, it is regarded asan excellent gem for purifying your personalenergy, and promoting deepermeditative 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 linkedwith 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 stressis art therapy. One art therapy exercise that is often used to explore moodis 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 youfeel 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.
Thismakes 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 goodfirst 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 associatedwith 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. Thisdepends on the saturation and hue of a color, which play a significant role in the effect that the color has on you.
Althoughblue is considered a tranquilcolor, too light a shade can give a room a sterile, uninviting look. While, dark blue shadescan make large rooms seem small, and can evoke feelings of melancholy. The best option for creating a tranquil interior space iswarm 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 linkedto diseases from hypertension to cancer, and persistent negative moods can be indicative ofa deeperunderlying problem. These therapeutic suggestions are an effectiveway to alleviate everydaystress, but if you continue to feel stressed, consult with a healthcareprofessional.
Author Bio: Olivia Parker is a holistic health student studying at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She enjoys reading, practicing yoga, and finding the best plant-based restaurants in Baltimore.