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De-Stress with Color Therapy

The color green can trigger a relaxation response.

De-Stress with Color Therapy
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Are you mentally drained after looking at your computer screen all day? If so, try taking a 20-minute stroll in the park. If you can’t get outside, gaze out a window at some greenery to facilitate a relaxation response, says Kathleen Hall, Ph.D., founder and CEO of the Stress Institute in Atlanta. According to Hall, our brains associate green with safety and survival. When advising CEOs of large corporations, Hall often recommends a 20-minute walk outside or a visit to an indoor space with a garden to help de-stress. Many urban public spaces incorporate greenery to encourage relaxation.

During research conducted at the University of Edinburgh, test subjects walked through a park and experienced feelings of meditation, relaxation, and less frustration than while making their way through busy urban streets.

Scientists used data from mobile electroencephalography (EEG) to confirm that green outdoor space lessens brain fatigue. Scientific researchers in neurology, psychology, and ophthalmology have found some preliminary evidence that the relaxing effects of green do not solely depend on associations with leaves or meadows. Our eyes perceive color using tiny sensors called cones. Certain cones are sensitive to red or green or blue light. They are the most sensitive to wavelengths at 510 nanometers, which translates into green light. Researchers hypothesize that this sensitivity to green objects might affect hormonal production or the circulation of neurotransmitters that in turn influence mood.

Color healing, or chromotherapy, has been used to treat people suffering psychological as well as physical ailments for centuries. In fact, depressed patients were often prescribed to sit in solariums with green-tinted windows. Hospital waiting rooms, psychiatric wards, prison cells and even surgical scrubs are green, although Hall says these are all the “wrong” green. Paler tones of green rather than the more vivid ones can actually make patients feel worse. Consider this: If somebody has a pale, greenish skin tone, we associate him or her with sickness or disease.