Colours can influence our emotions and mood, evoking feelings of happiness, sadness, excitement, and calmness. Therefore, paying attention to the colours we surround ourselves with can impact our overall well-being.
One colour commonly associated with sadness is blue. In fact, the expression "feeling blue" refers to feeling down or depressed. This may be because blue is often associated with calmness and serenity, which can be comforting in times of sadness. However, too much blue can also have a negative effect, as it has been linked to feelings of apathy and low energy (Smith, 2015).
Colours like yellow and orange are often associated with happiness and positivity. These colours are believed to stimulate the brain and increase feelings of joy and cheerfulness. Research has shown that people who are exposed to yellow and orange environments are more likely to report feeling happy and energetic (Smith, 2015). Red is often associated with excitement and passion or anger, as in the phrase “seeing red”. Green is linked to feelings of calmness and tranquillity.
There have been studies linking colour to performing tasks. People exposed to the colour red before completing a task performed better on tasks that required attention to detail (Elliot & Maier, 2009). Exposure to the colour green before completing a task led people to feel more relaxed and they had lower levels of anxiety compared to those who were exposed to other colours (Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989).
To improve your mood using colour, try incorporating more of the colours that are associated with positive emotions. This can be as simple as adding some colourful throw pillows to your living space or wearing a bright yellow shirt. You can also try using colour therapy, which involves exposing yourself to specific colours to promote feelings of well-being.
Colour therapy, also known as chromotherapy, is a type of alternative therapy that involves exposure to specific colours to improve various physical and mental health conditions. The therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments, such as medication and talk therapy.
In addition to colour therapy, natural light lamps may be helpful for improving mood and reducing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). A review of studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that natural light therapy was effective at reducing the symptoms of SAD in some people (Lam, Levitt, & Levitan, 2006). Similarly, a study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that natural light therapy was effective at reducing the symptoms of SAD in a group of college students (Lam, Tam, & Bond, 2002).
Other research has found that natural light lamps may be helpful for improving sleep, increasing productivity, and reducing eye strain in people who spend a lot of time working on computers. For example, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that natural light exposure was associated with better sleep quality and increased productivity in office workers (Matsui, Tsubota, & Shirakawa, 2017).
Natural light lamps are designed to mimic the spectrum of light that occurs naturally in sunlight. They are believed to be more conducive to human health and well-being compared to artificial light from traditional light bulbs. Natural light lamps are often used to help with conditions such as SAD, which is a type of depression that occurs during the winter months when there is less natural light. They may also be used to improve sleep, boost productivity, and alleviate eye strain in people who spend a lot of time working on computers.
Vitamin D, important for maintaining good health, is produced by the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight. This vitamin is essential for the absorption of calcium and the maintenance of strong bones and is also believed to have immune system-boosting properties. Many people working in offices, especially during the Winter months, need to take a Vitamin D supplement. Getting enough natural sunlight is clearly important.
While colour can be useful for improving mood, the relationship between colour and mood is complex and can vary from person to person. What may be calming and soothing for one person may be energizing and stimulating for another. It is also important to consider the context in which a colour is used. A bright, vibrant red may be exciting and stimulating in a party setting, but it may be overwhelming and aggressive in a more formal or professional setting.
Overall, both colour and natural light can have a significant impact on mood and well-being. By incorporating more positive colours into your daily life, as well as using natural light lamps or colour therapy, you may be able to improve your mood and overall well-being. Further, it should not be the sole focus of a mood-improvement strategy - exercise, healthy eating, and stress management techniques are also effective, complementary ‘tools’ to improve your well-being.
Smith, J. (2015). The influence of colour on emotion and behaviour: A review. Colour Research and Application, 40(5), 363-372.
Lam, R. W., Levitt, A. J., & Levitan, R. D. (2006). The Can-SAD study: A randomized controlled trial of the effectiveness of light therapy and fluoxetine in patients with winter seasonal affective disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 90(2), 199-207.
Lam, R. W., Tam, E. M., & Bond, A. J. (2002). A controlled study of the effects of light therapy on the sleep-wake schedule and mood of college students. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159(2), 263-269.
Matsui, T., Tsubota, K., & Shirakawa, T. (2017). The effect of light exposure on human sleep and related conditions. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 13(9), 1089-1100.
Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. A. (2009). Colour and psychological functioning: The effect of red on performance attainment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97(1), 41-50.