In life, there are a ton of different factors that influence your mood and mental health. As we run in the pursuit for an ‘unshakable’ state of mind, bringing mindful awareness to color is important. It’s important to understand how color affects your mood if you’re going to create an environment of peacefulness and mental clarity. It’s not always the ‘big things’ that can influence your mood, like falling our with a friend or having an injury. Simply the colors we immerse ourselves in can have a subconscious affect on our mood and state of mind.
This post is all about how color affects your mood and mental health.
It’s obvious that designers and homeowners alike use different colors to give different moods in certain rooms. For example, you might paint a room white to give it a pure feeling or paint another room red to give it a energetic feel. Corporations also use colors in their logos to summon different emotions in consumers.
- Fanta uses orange to encourage a feeling of fun and confidence
- Apple uses grey to encourage a feeling of modern and neutral
- Animal Planet uses green to encourage a feeling of growth and health
However, research points out that emotional ties to colors are subjective, and that each individual will respond to different colors in a different way based on their culture, religion, upbringing and more.
Check the color emotion chart for a snap short of how different colors can affect mental health;
When we’re feeling down, it’s often referred to as ‘having the blues’. Let’s first examine the color blue, and how it affects mental health and your mood.
Everyone has a favourite color, or a color that they naturally gravitate towards. When you’re feeling sad or you are depressed, people will refer to it as ‘having the blues’. But why is this? In an early study during the 1930’s,Siegfried E Katz of the New York Psychiatric institute published a study in the Journal of Psychology called Color Preference Of The Insane.
Effectively, the study involved exposing 134 hospitalized patients to small triangles of colors. The study was limited to 6 colors. There was no white or black, only red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet. The patients were asked to point out the best colour and then point out the next best, and so forth. Interestingly, the color blue was the most popular for being ‘the best color’.
The study implied that if you are suffering from mental health, or an extreme mental health disorder, it’s likely that you associate with the color blue more so than other colors. Studies like this, and sayings like ‘having the blues’ enforce the color blues presentness in mental health. So should you limit your exposure if you’re suffering with anxiety or depression?
On the flip side, many will experience confidence with the color blue. Blue can also be associated with cool, content, goals, and determination.
The color green is widely accepted as the color of nourishment, growth and health. Many health brands use the color green for their logos for example to give the consumer a sense of health and nourishment. The psychology is, using the color green encourages a sense of trust and wellbeing. This by itself can have a big impact on whether the consumer goes on to buy a product.
Green can have big benefits for you mental health. Surrounding yourself with colors of green can enforce feelings of restoration and naturality. This is why spending time in nature can be an effective way to balance your mind and mood. The various shades of green in a natural environment manifest sensations of wellbeing and peacefulness.
Green is a color used to imply regeneration. We see green on our screens when we recharge our phone batteries or health bars when we play video games.
Surrounding yourself in your home with shades of green could bring balance to your mind.
Shades of grey are associated with calm and neutrality. Grey is another color like green that can bring balance to your mind and emotions. Because it’s such a neutral color, it has the power to bring sensations of stillness.
Grey is neither here or there, right between black and white. When we’re suffering from anxiety or stress, we often have extreme thoughts that we put through a negative filter. We often refer to things as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’ with little room in the middle. This ‘closed mind’ way of thinking does not allow us to see the bigger picture in different situations. Grey, whilst maye seeming dull and boring, can bring about that ‘middle ground’ that we need with our thoughts.
Grey encourages feelings of authority, possibility and strength. These are all feelings which we need when we’re suffering with anxiety, depression or stress. CBT offers us the opportunity to challenge our thoughts and view our thoughts from different angles. Rather than labelling something either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, we are able to see all of the other outcomes there might be.
Grey can give us the strength we need when we are down. The color also represents structure (often seen in the foundation of buildings) which encourages feelings of togetherness and a strong self.
Do you think grey is dull? Maybe it could help you to feel calmer and broaden your mind and mood.
Yellow has one of the most powerful effects on your mood and mental health. Yellow represents happiness, clarity and energy. Being so bright, it’s often used in children’s advertisements to grab attention quickly. Yellow is associated with freshness and regeneration much like green, however, too much exposure to yellow can have negative effects.
Studies have shown that yellow in the right tone can spark creativity and wellbeing. However, studies have also shown that babies spending too much time in a bright yellow room often cry more due to the intense stimulus yellow offers. Darker yellow is also used as caution signs on the road to give warnings to drivers. It grabs your attention and encourages a feeling of uncertainty and anxiety.
Too much yellow exposure can also cause forgetfulness and loss of focus. Yellow is powerful in the fact that it can over stimulate the brain. By doing so for long periods, it’s thought that it can increase anxiety and cause low self esteem.
Because yellow packs such a powerful punch, it’s better to use yellow in small doses, rather than painting your room bright yellow. For example, having a sunflower on your unit provides enough positive stimuli without being overbearing in a room environment.
There’s something truly soothing about purple, at least from my perspective. That’s why I chose purple as part of the color scheme for Project Energise.com. Mixed with the greeny color in the logo, it is pleasing on the eye whilst giving a healthy feeling output. Purple can be relaxing for you mood. Purple is one of the more exotic colors, much like pink. It’s striking and has a real impact on your mood.
Purple can give us a feeling of wisdom, luxury and creativity. It’s also a slightly more interesting color. The color purple is different enough from the other colors in the spectrum to look unique. Often times when we see a rainbow, it’s the purple, or violet that stands out to us. Although striking, it’s a soft and inviting color that, in many cases, many females associate with.
It’s also a positive color that can emit feelings of calm and cosyness. Purple is a mixture or red and blue, energetic colors and calm colours which bring a balance of peacefulness when mixed into purple.
Having purple colors and objects near you can increase your mood and make you feel more creative. Purple is a distractive color that has a sense of mystery about it.
The color white is a neutral color. It’s associated with pureness and clarity. Many modern establishments use white to to evoke feelings of newness and cleanliness. Although some may not consider white to be a color and instead more of a shade, white is still powerful for lifting spirits when we’re feeling down.
White gives sensations of space and hygiene and is often used to make rooms feel bigger than they really are. Often times, medical environments will use the color white to enforce a sense of hygiene. When we see white, we generally think about clarity and clean environments.
Using white can lift spirits up even more when used alongside a color like green or yellow. The powerful combination of clean and natural feeling colors can create mental sensations of clarity when we’re feeling low.
Of course, all of the above is subjective like we previously mentioned. Your own personal experiences will determine how you interpret certain colors. You might find the color blue for example, a positive influence on you rmental health. You might even find that you can’t stand the color green because of certain experiences.
Because we all interpret colors differently, identifying how colors make you feel personally is important. Using colors to enhance your mood becomes easy when you know what you respond well to.
For my own mental health, I personally like to surround myself with different shades of green. This way I know I’m always growing and giving myself the sensation of wellbeing. This is achieved by spending time in nature, and surrounding myself with organic materials indoors.