How to use colour therapy to boost your wellbeing
Studies have shown that the colours can have an impact on our mood and how we perceive the world. Colour therapy can even be used to relieve anxiety and boost your confidence.
We naturally associate colours with emotions: when we're sad we feel blue, when we're angry we see red and we even feel green with envy.
It's perhaps unsurprising to learn that colours also be used to influence our moods through colour therapy. After all, we're used to using colour to express our feelings.
What is colour therapy and how does it work?
Colour therapy, also knows as chromotherapy, uses the benefits of different colours and shades to affect your wellbeing.
As each colour has a unique light wavelength, the colour therapy principles use the energy of each shade to boost your mental and physical health.
You can use these ideas in your own home, in your decor and furniture, and in the clothes you wear – in a similar way to using aromatherapy to influence your mood.
You can start by taking part in a Colour quiz, based on research by Dr. Max Lûscher, which aims to identify your emotional response to each colour.
It's best to complete the test twice, a few minutes apart, and your answers are likely to vary on different days. The report covers your existing situation, your stress sources and your restrained characteristics. It then explains your desired objective and your actual problems.
How to use flower colour therapy to boost your mood
For Lara Sanjar of Wild Renata Flowers, working with blooms and colour helped to ease her anxiety.
"Floristry was a practice I started experimenting with when I was signed off work with anxiety and depression in 2013, while working in the advertising industry," she says.
"I found that using my hands and working with natural elements helped calm my over-active brain and silence the thoughts which used to manifest into anxiety.
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"It was from that day onwards that I decided to pursue floristry as a possible career change and since then have never looked back. It is my passion, my work, my love and my medicine."
She first noticed that flowers improved her mood when a friend brought her a big bunch of pink peonies while she was off work. "On the day of receiving these, that everything changed," she explains.
"As I began attempting to arrange the flowers I realised my hectic, anxious mind had been silenced and I was in a state of calm working with these blousy new friends. The healing properties of flowers has from then onwards been a focus for me, from their beautiful colours to their scent and how they can help calm my soul."
Lara shares some of her favourite uplifting flower colours:
Pink tulips encourage emotions of kindness, compassion and affection. Commonly known as the colour of relaxation, a shade of pink called ‘Baker-Miller’ has even been used to reduce violence in hostile environments, due to the colour’s calming properties.
Orange, as one of the warmest tones, notably resembles the colour of the sunset – one of nature’s most calming and peaceful gifts. Helping to rebalance joy, optimism and wisdom, orange ranunculus can brighten the gloomiest of winter days.
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Yellow inspires feelings of happiness and warmth – hardly surprising given our largest source of the colour is the sun. It also drives confidence, clarity and contentment – the perfect flower to treat someone you love who may be facing a new challenge, such as starting a new job. Chrysanthemums also symbolise optimism and joy - the perfect choice of flower and colour to keep in your home on those dark, dreary winter days.
In colour therapy, purple packs a punch. Full of life and energy, its extravagance helps to stimulate feelings of inspiration, creativity and calm. Unlike other colours, it cannot be directly linked to any of the core natural elements – so it has a sense of magic.
Purple anemones will help to keep you motivated and inspired for all those creative projects you have been putting off, and keep you calm when you could be feeling overwhelmed.
Blue forget me nots
Blue is considered a calming colour, reflective of the sea and sky. Blue can help when seeking to reset a busy mind whenever life gets a little chaotic. This colour is also the classic variety of forget me nots. These blue blooms help to stimulate mental clarity, creative expression and aspiration.
As an earth colour, green is extremely grounding. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it helps to take us back to nature, such as the rolling countryside, lush woodlands and tropical rainforests. Its calming and peaceful nature aids in combating any anxious feelings, while stimulating love, balance and harmony in the body.
Symbolic of romance and passion, it comes as no surprise that these blooms have long been associated with love – and the heart. In colour therapy, red stimulates physical energy, confidence and courage, and promotes alertness – so whether you need the courage or confidence to finally tell someone how you feel, or to simply take control of tough choices or decisions in your life, red roses remain the perfect choice.
Find more floral inspiration on Funnyhowflowersdothat.co.uk
Colour for wellbeing – what are the benefits of colour therapy?
Colour therapy can be used to help people suffering from a variety of mental health conditions, from depression to anxiety.
Vanessa Volpe of Colour for Wellbeing uses colour therapy techniques to manage symptoms of anxiety and boost your confidence, as well as treating problems such as insomnia and physical pain. Her 'Colour Play' programme combines occupational therapy techniques with colour therapy.
Professor Stephen Westland is Chair of Colour Science and Technology at the University of Leeds and studies the non-visual effects of colour. The University's Lighting Laboratory can light an environment across the spectrum and research the effect of colour and light on sleep, emotion and wellbeing.
Coloured light has been found to have a small effect on heart rate and blood pressure: red light raises heart rate and blue light reduces it. You can read more about their experiments here.
How do colours affect your mood? Here's the scientific research
Karen Haller is a colour psychologist, who uses colour to create a well-balanced environment that creates positive behaviour.
"Colours can influence how someone thinks, feels and behaves," she explains, "so we can use colour to boost wellbeing and morale. Don't sit in a white room, as it's likely that you'll heal quicker if your mental attitude is positive."
Karen's advice is to not be scared of colour, and of what people think of your colour choices. "Trust your own colour intuition. Explore the colours you love – you might not know why, but if you love them and they make you feel good then use them. You'll want different colours at different times of the day and week."
She warns against following the colours your friends use, or are in fashion - colours are completely personal.
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Colour and your body
Chromotherapy practitioners believe that each colour relates to an area of the body:
Red and pink colours are linked to your blood, circulation and breathing. Use these colours to raise your pulse, blood pressure and the speed that you breathe, and strengthen your veins.
Yellow is linked to your skin and tissues, mainly your digestive system, metabolism and nervous system. It can be used to strengthen your body, treat asthma and bronchitis, and help with skin problems.
Green colours have a harmonious, calming effect. Green can be used to fight infection and as an antiseptic.
Blue also encourages relaxation and calm, so can be used to treat all types of pain (especially stomach and muscle pain) as well as headaches, colds, tension and stress.
Indigo colours are beneficial for problems with the eyes, ears and nose, while more violet shades of purple with a pink tone can help relax your muscles and nervous system. Violet colours are also useful when meditating.
Colours can also be linked to your chakras: red relates to the base chakra, orange the sacral chakra, yellow the solar plexus chakra, green the heart chakra, blue the throat chakra, indigo the brow chakra (the third eye) and violet relates to the crown chakra.
Colouring for therapy
You can also apply the theories of colour therapy with colouring books for adults. Lucy at In The Midst Of Madness reviews colouring books, and discusses being given colouring activities while she was treated for her mental health issues at The Priory.
Colouring has been found to release dopamine; the benefits include better sleep, and it can be used for pain management and managing mental illness.
Photos by Annie Spratt, Craig Strahorn, John-Mark Kuznietsov, Stefen Tan, J. Kelly Brito and Jessica Lee on Unsplash.