8 Ways to brighten your mood with color
Though this winter has had record high temperatures, you may still be experiencing the winter blues, especially if your weather has included gray skies and soggy days.
One easy and effective way to change your moody outlook is to brighten up your life with color. Research has proven how color therapy, or chromo therapy, is a natural way to lift your spirits. We talked with ChicagoHealers.com practitioner Karen Erickson about how we can inject more color into our life. Here's what the natural health expert had to say.
Wear colorful attire
Think about it: Don't you feel more cheery when you wear that yellow sweater than when you put on that gray sweatshirt? According to Erickson, clothing that's bright will instantly put you in a cheerful mood and even make others around you feel merry as they visually absorb your brightness. That means you help cheer up others, too. "During the winter, people tend to wear darker clothing, but the duller the colors you wear, the duller your mood is," says Erickson. "Wear richer, more vibrant colors because wearing lots of black and gray can cause depression."
Paint your home or office
Give your home or workplace an inspiring, lively ambiance with a new coat of bright paint. Vibrant colors such as yellows or oranges will fill a room with excitement and warmth, while dark colors like grays or browns create a boring, monotonous feeling. "People suffering the winter blues or SAD [seasonal affective disorder] can surround themselves with brighter colors to feel happy," Erickson adds. "Yellows and oranges promote joy and laughter and also aid in improving focus. The more surrounded you are with rich colors, the happier you are!" Pastel colors, such as lavender and pinks, can help you manage stress because these soft, soothing colors foster calm feelings.
If changing the wall color isn't possible, spice a room up with fun-colored pillows, rugs, window treatments, art pieces or plants, suggests Erickson. "Though browns, tans and earthy wall colors generate harmony and are convenient for apartments or selling homes, you can still brighten up your living or office space with simple, vibrant accessories such as vases, sunflower plants, drapes or wall decals," the natural healer explains.
Get new light bulbs
Don't you love those "aha" moments when it seems a light bulb goes on in your head and you see and think more clearly? Good news! You can literally turn on new light bulbs to boost your mood and productivity. Light bulbs with full spectrum lighting mimic natural sunlight to emit all colors of the rainbow and reduce depression, according to Erickson. "Most importantly, use good lighting within your home! Be sure to use full-spectrum lighting," she suggests. "Normal or energy-saving light bulbs aren't the best choices when it comes to improving your mood. Adding extra lighting, such as overhead lamps and skylights to bring sufficient lighting in your home, will make you feel like you have natural sunlight in your home."
Be colorful with your food
Eating a rainbow of colors isn't just good for your health, it's good for your mood, too! Erickson recommends eating and smelling foods, oils and spices that are yellow, orange, green and red because of their rewarding health benefits as well as their ability to give you feelings of joy, tranquility and passion. She points out, "During these winter months, we often resort to comfort foods, such as mashed potatoes, heavy soups and pastas, which are brown and tan-colored, and not as uplifting as the colorful, fresh foods we eat in the summer months." Stick with the rich-colored foods in the winter so you feel more joyful and fill your plate with more nutrient-dense foods.
Wear color therapy glasses
Are you known as the chick who wears the rose-colored glasses? Literally speaking, it can actually be good for your mood. Lenses with colored tints allow for light entering your body to be concentrated in one spectrum. Therefore, your mood will enhance according to the color of your lenses. "Yellow and orange are the best colors for color therapy glasses, especially for those with SAD," explains Erickson. "The great thing about yellow-tinted glasses is that you can drive with them and still see the red and green signs! Also, yellow is very effective in helping improve focus and learning abilities."
Even if you can't drastically transform your plain walls into bright displays of color and you have to wear the same less-than-cheery clothing every day, you can visualize yourself surrounded by a specific color that will help instill the mood associated with that color. Erickson strongly suggests that you simply imagine you're lying on a beach on a gorgeous, sunny day with bright trees and colorful plants around you. "The longer you practice this meditation, the more peaceful and cheerful you'll feel!" she adds.
Consider a color therapist
Yes, they do exist. Color therapists can determine the most enlightening color for your mood by providing supervised color therapy treatments under special colored lights. For example, at the Enlightened Healing Center in Orland Park, Illinois, Erickson uses red and infrared light therapy to treat inflammation and stimulate new, healthy cell growth. "Most times, we use red and blue color therapy because these are the colors that are missing in all light bulbs," she explains. "However, sometimes we'll use yellow and orange because these are the best colors for improving one's mood. The color used in color therapy depends on what we're treating clients for and how they respond to the colors."
A word on SAD
Erickson concludes that color alone may not be enough if you are battling SAD. "Those who have SAD are depressed not only because of the dull weather, but because of something that makes them unhappy on the inside. Along with these tips for color therapy, it's important to work on emotions and how you're feeling inside. Feeling joyful on the inside will make you feel joyful on the outside, and others will notice your cheerful mood. Smile, focus on what makes you happy and use color therapy to feel happy all year long!"