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How Can I Utilize Color for My Mental Health?

Jessica Pontis, LCSW

How many times have you walked into Target with the intention of getting toothpaste and dish soap, and walked out with three new shirts, four mugs, and a handful of random household trinkets that you don’t even know where to put?  I know I sure have, all while forgetting the toothpaste.  Industrial and organizational psychology is a powerful thing, and whoever was responsible for organizing the consumer experience of some of our favorite stores deserves one huge raise.  One significant area of focus used by industrial and organizational psychologists involves the use of color.  Not only is Target laid out in such a way that makes the user experience more appealing, but you are also bombarded with the color of consumption and appetite as soon as you walk in, red.  

Color plays a big role in how we interact with the world, why is it that red stimulates our desire to consume?  Why is blue used in movies to evoke feelings of either sadness or calmness?  Why does yellow often energize us?  While there’s research behind the use of color in marketing, entertainment, and consumerism, we can also apply these theories in our own personal environment to create similar effects.  If Target can use colors to persuade us, then why can’t we use similar tactics to make our living space as comforting and cozy as possible?

Utilizing color theory to support our wellness is an interesting way to make us feel empowered in our space.  While not a substitute for treatment, having a home environment that helps to meet your needs can be an additional way we can care for ourselves.  Let’s take a look at the rainbow and learn what colors can evoke in us and how we can utilize them in our lives. 

The Warm Tones

Red is a color strongly associated with anger, but is also linked to appetite, power, and passion.  If you’re struggling to find motivation and drive throughout your day, perhaps wearing red can help you connect with feeling more powerful.  However, red is one color to use cautiously, since it is so heavily connected to anger and danger. 

Orange and Yellow are similar to red in that they are attention-grabbing.  If you’re looking for a bit of additional energy these colors can be associated with invigoration and feeling uplifted.  Having pops of these colors in your office space may be subtle way to stay connected with some energy during the workday.  However, in too much of a dose these colors can become abrasive, so use sparingly.  

Bedroom with cool green towns and pops of orange accentsThe Cool Tones

When we think of green we commonly think of nature, money, and luck.  If you’re looking to feel a bit more tranquil, more optimistic, or more hopeful about money, keep green around.  It could be a bonus if the green that you have in your space comes in the form of plants, since plants can create a feeling of calm as well as give us something to take care of and nurture.

Blue is often thought of as being a very non-threatening color since it is so widely used in media.  It can promote a feeling of safety, reliability, and calmness.  Blue is also heavily associated with sadness, depression, and grief, so while it can be comforting it can also be helpful to break your space up with some warmer tones to avoid becoming overwhelmed by blue.  

If you’re wanting to connect with yourself spiritually, or tap into your creativity, purple may be the color to help do that.  Purple is associated with wisdom and spirituality and is also a color that historically connects to royalty.  If you’re wanting to feel powerful and more connected to yourself then lean into purple.  

While not an exact science, nor a replacement for treatment, the use of color may be helpful in giving us a bit of extra support.  If you’re interested in learning about ways you can make your home align with your needs, or would like to connect with someone to walk with you on this journey reach out to one of the licensed therapists with Symmetry Counseling.  You can reach out to us online at symmetrycounseling.com, or by calling us at (312) 578-9990 to set up an appointment.

Cherry, K. (2020, May 28). Can color affect your mood and behavior? Verywell Mind. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824

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