How Colour can affect Mental and Physical Health

The close connection between colour and well-being is evident in the many expressions that describe mental and physical states with colour. Someone can say they are in a black mood, feeling blue, green with envy, or in the pink, and everybody knows exactly what they mean. Colours have deep meanings at cultural, personal, and instinctive levels, and they can be positive or negative. For example, red is the colour of love and romance in the West and the colour of wedding dresses in India. Conversely, it is also used across the world as a warning colour to denote danger on emergency buttons, stop signs and traffic lights.

Colour plays a significant role in a number of health conditions. People with synaesthesia experience sensory and cognitive processes simultaneously and often perceive letters, numbers, or weekdays as having particular colours. People with depression are often sensitive to colours that affect their emotional state and some use Colour Therapy to improve mood. Studies continue to investigate the benefits of using colours to create positive environments for school children, hospital patients, and prisoners. Baker-Miller Pink is the name of a colour developed for use in prisons to reduce aggressive and hostile behaviour. Pale blue and green are recommended for teenage students as they create a calming atmosphere that is beneficial for concentration.


The influence of colour can be used in everyday life to reduce anxiety and promote general well-being. The most effective way to do this is through home decoration and good lighting. Colour can be used throughout the home to create spaces for rest and revitalization as well as areas of creative and social activity. There is a wealth of colours to choose from and any base colour can be adapted to be lighter, darker, warmer, or cooler. The principal colour of the room can be intensified, complemented or offset by everything from coloured window shutters and fittings to cushions and throws. Fashion tends to make some colour schemes more easily available than others, but it is better to choose according to individual taste because people have different personal responses to colour. Memory is very powerful and has a deep connection with inner well-being. The colours in a honeymoon suite or beloved grandparent´s kitchen can be reproduced at home to create a relaxed, happy environment with treasured personal associations.

Warm colours such as red, orange, and yellow create a vibrant, welcoming atmosphere conducive to liveliness and sociability. Red offers comfort, energy and intimacy and is particularly good for dining rooms as it stimulates appetite and conversation. It is intense and exciting, but some people find it overpowering. For people who want a similar effect with less intensity, orange is the perfect choice. This colour sparks enthusiasm, creativity, and action, and works equally well in living rooms and dining rooms. Yellow is the classic colour of happiness and optimism and is particularly good for bringing warmth to north-facing rooms.

Yellow is the classic colour of happiness and optimism and is particularly good for bringing warmth to north-facing rooms.

Warm yellow kitchens and dining rooms both create a positive sense of wellbeing. In more muted, creamy tones, it can look fresh and pretty in a child´s bedroom without being too stimulating. Pink is a soothing colour associated with love, and a bedroom decorated with a light, gentle shade of pink can be a restful sanctuary for children and adults alike.

Cool colours such as blue and green have a calming effect and can work very well in bedrooms, bathrooms, and studies. Blue is believed to lower the blood pressure and promote intellectual thought and concentration. A carefully chosen shade of blue can bring a fresh, cool sensation to a south-facing bedroom and if it has a warm undertone it will not become chilly in the winter months. Green has the dual power to soothe and energise because of its natural associations with nature, renewal, and growth. In paler tones, it is a popular choice for bedrooms because it combines the vibrancy of yellow with the serenity of blue. In darker tones, it is traditionally associated with libraries and is an ideal colour for a study or home office.

Purple is associated with creativity but, like red, it can have an overpowering, tiring effect on some people and is best used in moderation. Shades of lilac can be very restful and provide gentle stimulation for a studio or bedroom. Warm greys can be used to create a sophisticated backdrop for other fittings, furniture, and accessories, and gives a clean, calm sensation. White acts as an accent colour for almost every other tone. It can make a room feel more spacious, giving a healthy sense of freedom. Black can add definition and a sense of chic, but is best used sparingly.

Human beings respond to colour at conscious and subconscious levels. By applying this knowledge in home decoration, there is tremendous potential to influence mental and physical health positively.  A little research and self-knowledge can help to create the perfect personalised setting.

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