Everything we surround ourselves with affects our well-being, even when we may not be consciously aware of it. Color is one of those marvels. Looking to feel energized and motivated, or calm, relaxed, and at ease? Color therapy, also known as chromotherapy, uses color and light as a tool to support these healthy mental states, as well as our physical states of being.
The history of color therapy dates back thousands of years to ancient Greece, Egypt, China, and India. They used colored crystals which they would shine light through, and painted rooms of various colors to enhance energy levels as well as mood.
Color therapy research is in its early stages. The exploration of green light therapy has shown promising results for pain relief at Duke University, (Malone, 2020). Red, and blue light therapy have exhibited healing benefits that assist the body in skin rejuvenation, (Wunsch and Matuschka, 2014), (Glass, 2021), (Kleinpenning et al., 2012), (Omi et al., 2004). White light therapy has been identified as an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and may be a viable option for other disorders that present with seasonal disparity in symptoms, irregular circadian rhythms, and symptoms of depression, (Campbell et al., 2019).
In addition to these scientific findings, color therapy has been used anecdotally for a variety of applications such as:
Mood and energy levels
Stress reduction and muscle relaxation
Decreasing symptoms of depression. anxiety, & PTSD
Diminishing anger and aggressive behavior
Moderating sleep disorders and lethargy
Stabilizing blood pressure
Easing symptoms of vision disorders
Improving athletic performance and recovery
Increasing or decreasing appetite
Enhancing focus & academic performance, showing improvements with individuals who struggle with ADHD and learning disabilities, including dyslexia
How Color Affects Mood & Energy Levels
Color, along with everything in our existence, is made up of energy. Every color has a distinct wavelength, differentiating its vibrational frequency. Warm colors have more energy (red, orange, yellow), think sunshine, or fire. Cool colors (green, blue, violet) provide a sense of calmness and peacefulness. Nature is made up of mostly blues and greens, and these colors resonate with us on a deep level for that reason.
People have color preferences that may work more, or less effectively than others, but overall, there are collective responses to the assortment of colors. Listed below are some of the most common feelings and associations evoked by the various colors:
Red – warmth, passion, energy, motivation, stimulation, courage, strength, excitement, power, intensity, assertiveness
Orange – warmth, upliftment, creativity, positivity, happiness, playfulness, vibrance, adventure, exuberance
Yellow – warmth, joy, optimism, inspiration, cheerfulness, enhances focus and learning, brings clarity and inspiration, enthusiasm, hope, friendliness
Green – coolness, harmony, growth, healing, well-being, nature, calmness, vitality, renewal, balance, prosperity, freshness, peacefulness, new life
Blue – coolness, relaxation, concentration, stability, communication, trustworthiness, confidence, loyalty, reflection, commitment, serenity
Purple – coolness, encouragement, spiritual awareness, vision, authenticity, ambition, knowledge, wisdom
White – refreshment, purity, simplicity, clarity, openness, cleanliness, newness, peacefulness, innocence
Different shades of colors will have different impacts. Colors can have negative effects as well. For example, red may bring out anger and aggression, while blue may bring out coldness and feelings of depression.
Beige, taupe, and gray can be low vibrational energies and draining. If you live in an apartment that cannot be painted, but the color does not work for you, use décor to overpower it and infuse the effect you desire.
Color Therapy Application
We receive the color bands through our vision, as well as our skin. Ultraviolet light absorption from the sun is an example of the latter, and provides us with vitamin D. There are color therapy specialists you can work with, physicians you can utilize for specific medical issues such as SAD, or you can introduce color therapy to your life by a variety of means.
Color Therapy Options
The paint on the walls (or décor) in the home and workspace
The color of lightbulbs
What you wear
Color therapy glasses
Adding plants to the home or office
Spending time outdoors in nature
Visualizations (using color during meditation or with breathing exercises)
Whatever energy level, or state of mind you are looking for, choose your paint color, clothing, decor, and crystals wisely. See a specialist if you are looking for support with physical well-being.
Some colors will help to produce elated states of being while others will be draining, radiating low vibrational energy. It is personal to some degree so experiment. Feeling down and looking for upliftment in your life, choose warm colors. Struggling with stress and feeling overwhelmed, choose cool, relaxing colors. Investigate, and see how color affects you.
Campbell, P., Miller, A., Woesner, M., (2019). Bright Light Therapy: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Beyond. National library of Medicine.
Glass, G., (2021). Photobiomodulation: The Clinical Applications of Low-Level Light Therapy. National Library of Medicine.
Kleinpenning, M., Otero, M., van Erp, P., Gerritsen, M., van de Kerkhof, P., (2012). Efficacy of blue light vs. red light in the treatment of psoriasis: a double-blind, randomized comparative study. National Library of Medicine.
Malone, L. (2020). Novel Approach to Pain Management Could Get the Green Light. Duke Health.
Omi, T., Bjerring, P., Sato, S., Kawana, S., Hankins, R., Honda, M., (2004).
420 nm intense continuous light therapy for acne. National Library of Medicine.
Wunsch, A., Matuschka, K., (2014). A Controlled Trial to Determine the Efficacy of Red and Near-Infrared Light Treatment in Patient Satisfaction, Reduction of Fine Lines, Wrinkles, Skin Roughness, and Intradermal Collagen Density Increase. National Library of Medicine.