‘Green is a prominent colour in nature so it’s deeply restorative’
Red and yellow and pink and green… Yes, singing a rainbow is all well and good, but wouldn’t you rather understand the rainbow and use it to your advantage? Studies have shown that colour affects not only mood but appetite, energy levels, blood pressure, metabolism, body clock and even aggression, so harnessing the powers of the colours around you could lead to a better body and happier mind.
Colour therapy – using colour to balance a person’s energy, either physically, mentally or emotionally – can be used to treat a spectrum of ailments, from stress to insomnia, as well as unearth hidden strengths and gifts we never knew we had. Each colour of the rainbow corresponds to one of our seven main ‘chakras’ (energy centres) throughout the body. Colour therapy can be given in different ways, including coloured lights being shone onto the body, coloured silks being worn and coloured liquids being displayed in bottles.
‘Every colour has its place, and the trick is to have a balance of colours around you,’ says colour therapy expert Suzy Chiazzari (iriscolour.co.uk). ‘Colour therapy is an easy, quick and safe way to boost your health and wellbeing at minimal cost.’
So, what do the varying colours of the world mean and how can you capture their vivid power? Read on to discover how you can make the hues, tinges, shades and pigments in your everyday life work for you.
A colour of power, passion, vitality and confidence, red light has been shown to increase muscle strength by 13.5 per cent. ‘Red warms and energises the body, and increases the pulse and circulation, making us want to move around more,’ says Suzy. It could even make you a winner! Studies have shown that the red football shirt is associated with long-term team success.
Work it: To boost your performance, colour therapist Kathryn Roberts (colourtherapysilks.co.uk) suggests adding red to your workout kit. ‘It’ll bring enthusiasm, determination and confidence,’ she says. ‘It’s particularly effective if you need short, quick bursts of energy.’
Orange is linked to passion, pleasure, fun and vibrancy. It stimulates emotions, enhances your mood and gives a feeling of overall wellbeing. It also increases appetite and encourages digestion.
Work it: ‘Enjoy a massage with sweet orange essential oil to reduce fatigue and soothe aching muscles,’ suggests Suzy.
YELLOW ‘Yellow is the colour of happiness, imagination, laughter and willpower,’ says Kathryn. It also stimulates the mind and makes us more mentally alert.
Work it: Suzy explains that yellow is a memory aid, so you should use a yellow legal pad when studying, revising or writing a presentation. ‘Yellow will help you get organised and set goals,’ she says. ‘It can also be used in team-building activities,’ Kathryn adds.
Associated with harmony, renewal, freshness, growth and peace, green relieves all types of stress and balances your whole body. ‘It’s a prominent colour in nature,’ says Kathryn, ‘so it’s deeply restorative, both psychologically and holistically.’ It’s considered to be the ‘central balance colour’ between the two extremes of the ‘magnetic’ shades of red, orange and yellow (denoting heat and joy) and the ‘electric’ shades of blue and purple (bringing a cooling, calming effect).
Work it: ‘Green is an excellent colour for a yoga mat!’ Kathryn says. ‘Also, try swapping your treadmill for a cross-country run once a week, where you’ll soak up lots of natural green, and see what difference it can make to your fitness and overall happiness.’
The hue of a peaceful sky, blue is associated with quiet confidence, compassion and introspection. ‘It calms the mind and relaxes the body,’ says Suzy.
Work it: ‘Using a blue ice pack can bring extra soothing to tired feet or even reduce the recovery time for bruises and sprains,’ says Kathryn. She also explains that it’s a good colour to wear during endurance training or long-distance running as it will promote slow and steady energy release. On a more chilled-out note, Suzy says, ‘Blue in the bedroom will help you enjoy deep sleep.’
‘Purple balances and harmonises the brain, central nervous system and spine, which aids mind-body coordination,’ says Suzy. Need to assert some authority at work? Try wearing purple. ‘It’s considered a regal colour, so wearing it can give you the air of being in charge,’ says Kathryn. ‘It could even give you the edge in a competitive setting.’ It can also encourage creativity.
Work it: Given its power to inspire, purple is ideal if you’re suffering a mental block. ‘Incorporating purple into your environment might just help you get that book written,’ muses Kathryn. Add a purple cushion, violet candles or a vase of lavender to get those creative juices flowing.
Pink is associated with femininity, softness, love and caring – and embodies the milder qualities of red. ‘It gently warms and relaxes the muscles,’ says Suzy.
Work it: ‘Wear pink to exude a caring energy,’ suggests Kathryn. ‘It shows that you’ll happily share your kindness with others.’
A darker version of orange, ‘Brown is the colour of stamina and patience,’ says Kathryn. ‘It’s linked to dependability and being conservative.’ It can also make us feel protected and safe because of its associations with nature.
Work it: Use brown crockery to inspire these positive, steadfast feelings. Eating cereal from a brown bowl first thing in the morning will set you up for a productive day.
People who are drawn to grey are seen as reliable and hard-working. ‘It’s often worn as a uniform,’ says Kathryn, ‘and is useful if you want to slip into the background to get on with the task in hand.’
Work it: Given its associations with hard work and trustworthiness, ‘Grey is a good choice of colour to wear to a job interview,’ advises Kathryn.
‘White contains all the rainbow colours so could be thought to hold all potential,’ explains Suzy. ‘It can indicate flexibility of body and mind.’ It’s also symbolic of purity, calm and freshness, and can have a very healing, peaceful effect.
Work it: ‘Decorating your bedroom in shades of white and cream can create a restful space for you to relax and recharge,’ says Kathryn.
BLACK ‘Black is often thought of as chic, understated and dignified,’ says Kathryn. It can also represent power.
Work it: Black jewelry makes a bold statement and can help you stand out from the crowd. ‘Have fun with it,’ says Kathryn.
Over the rainbow
Sometimes you can have too much of a good tint…
‘We all have colour preferences,’ says Kathryn, ‘so spending large amounts of time exposed to colours we dislike can affect mood negatively.’ The key is to embrace the entire palette, rather than focusing on one hue. Here’s what an overdose of any single colour can do…
RED: Suzy says that too much red in your life can lead to exhaustion and muscle fatigue.
ORANGE: ‘For people with addictive tendencies, orange can act as a trigger in the drive for pleasure, so it should be used in moderation or even avoided,’ warns Kathryn.
YELLOW: ‘In excess, yellow can lead to negative self-talk, anxiety and thinking more than taking action,’ says Kathryn. Not a fan of the colour? It could be your tummy talking. ‘People with digestion issues often have a dislike of the colour yellow,’ Kathryn says.
GREEN: ‘If you surround yourself with too much relaxing green, you may find it hard to motivate yourself and make decisions,’ cautions Suzy.
BLUE: ‘Too much blue can dampen our mood and give us the “blues”,’ Kathryn explains.
PURPLE: Overdoing the purple can lead to nervousness and hyperactivity, Suzy says.
PINK: An excess of pink can cause passivity and make you less energetic. So much so that it’s been known for sports teams to paint the opposing team’s locker room pink so that they lack oomph during the game. Sneaky!
BROWN: ‘An overload of brown can lead to inflexibility and stubborn will,’ says Kathryn.
GREY: ‘Grey can be seen as a dull colour,’ says Kathryn. ‘It’s less severe than black so it carries less of an authoritative perception.’ Suzy says that if you’re surrounded by grey for any length of time, you could feel tired, listless and unmotivated as it doesn’t reflect much natural light.
WHITE: Overindulge in white and you may be left ‘feeling cold, emotionally isolated and lacking motivation,’ says Suzy.
BLACK: Too much black can hold you back. ‘Wearing black frequently can indicate that we’re trying to hide an aspect of ourselves,’ explains Kathryn. ‘This may be part of our physique or perhaps, more broadly speaking, we’re hiding our true potential and not living our life as fully as we should.’