People who want to make their homes or offices a sanctuary for stress relief often wonder about the best colors for relaxation. Colors can be a great focus for meditation or guided relaxation, and certain colors provoke emotional and physical responses.
Color in History
In ancient history, color was appreciated not for its abstract beauty or aesthetic appeal, but for the divine symbolism ascribed to it by various ancient religions. For example, ancient Egyptian magicians wore blue breastplates to represent the sacredness of their wisdom, and in ancient Greek poetry colors such as scarlet and purple were worn to represent the violent encounter in The Iliad and Ulysses wanderings in The Odyssey. Color and colored light has even been used in some cultures to heal various physical and mental ailments.
Color, Mind, and Body
Today, colors are not imbued with quite as much meaning. People choose colors for their clothes and homes based on their personal preference, rather than the meaning behind the colors. However, different colors have different effects on both the body and mind.
Red, Pink, Orange, and Yellow
In China, red is a color of celebration and luck, and it features largely in many important ceremonies. In India, red is used in wedding clothes to symbolize the purity of the people being married. Despite the significance and widespread use of red in cultural events around the globe, scientists have found that looking at the color red can actually initiate the body's fight-or-flight response, speeding up the heart rate and raising blood pressure. Red's stimulant properties make it a poor choice for relaxation, but it is great for a burst of energy and passion.
The color pink shares the stimulating properties of red and also inspires increased motivation and confidence. Interestingly, some holding cells in prisons are pink, which is supposed to reduce the inmates' erratic behavior. Orange is also a stimulating color that increases social behavior and stimulates both appetite and activity level. Yellow has been shown to increase communication and heighten memory while stimulating the mind.
These warm shades may be great for a party setting, but they do not lend themselves well to tranquility or peaceful contemplation, so they are not the best colors for relaxation.
Perhaps it's no coincidence that the color of both the sky and the ocean has proven to be a calming color. Humans have long enjoyed the blissfulness of cloudless blue days by visiting the beach and staring at the seemingly endless ocean. Blue has a calming, sedative effect, and can actually cause the body to become cooler. Some also say that the color blue aids intuition. Blue rooms are generally very relaxing, and the same peacefulness can be evoked by looking at a painting or photograph with a lot of blue. In a pinch, even a piece of blue paper can provide instant stress relief.
Green is said to lessen depression, anxiety, and nervousness. It relaxes both body and mind, and is both soothing and refreshing. The cool green of a summer forest is the perfect place for a relaxing walk, and the sight of a leafy tree dripping rain can be the highlight of a rainy day. Green is a great color for walls or clothing, and green wall art or room accessories can add a tranquil note to any room.
Purple is unique in that it is a mix of both red and blue. It can either be stimulating like red or soothing like blue, depending on the shade and undertone. Purple has traditionally been the color of royalty, as it used to be very expensive to buy purple fabric. Lavender and periwinkle are both relaxing colors, but deep purples tend to be more stimulating than soothing.
The Best Colors for Relaxation
Warm colors are usually stimulating and not the best for a calm and relaxing environment. Blues, greens, and purples are the most relaxing colors, and they have a soothing effect on both the mind and the body. That makes these the best colors for stress-relieving environments, and the best choice for peaceful and quiet décor and clothing.