What Does Colour Mean to Health and Wellbeing?
Colour means a lot to us all, yet do we really consider the full impact colour has on our lives? So what colour represents to health and wellbeing for us as individuals, do you think?
I recall a time when I was younger (many moons ago!) that I would wait in the dentist reception area listening to the shrilling drills and anaesthetised groans coming from the dental chairs in the adjoining rooms. I looked around and saw a mural of a forest that filled the wall. It was dark but relaxing to look at. Shades of greens and browns. The sun-rays shining through the branches. An image I still recall how it made me feel some 40 years after last seeing it.
Studies have shown that colour is an important factor when it comes to mental health…but we know that already, don’t we? We all have our favourite colour – mine being Royal Blue – and they can have great significance in our lives.
Those of us lucky enough to have good sight and the ability to see colour around us should greatly appreciate the affect the colour has on our daily lives, every second of every single day. From the moment you wake up and turn on the light you release a spectrum of colours that fill your retina, sending messages to your brain which, in turn, translates into millions of colours. It is truly amazing.
Yet it is something we all take for granted – isn’t it?
Colour can have a conscious and subconscious effect on people’s lives. We smile when we see the orange and reds of a sunset or sunrise. We breath in and out to calm ourselves when we look up to the whites and blues of the sky. Even on the darkest of nights we see receive the light from stars that have taken millions of years to reach us – and help us reflect on our lives.
So, what does colour truly mean for our mental wellbeing?
We choose colours that help us feel good, from clothing to entire colour schemes in our home.
In just one study of many, Dulux, the folk that help you to colour your home, help design a colour scheme for those living with dementia. When conducting the scheme, they recognised that 850,000 people were living with dementia in the UK and 70-80% of those continued to live within their own home. They researched certain shades of colours can support people to live with dementia and formulated paints that could further help to make a difference to those people. Things that and I may take for granted, such as making the doors and walls different colours or shades to help people differentiate between them, really could help someone living with dementia possibly remain in their own home for longer by supporting positive mental wellbeing.
As a registered social worker, but also as a health and social care worker – I have seen home important colour usage throughout the many people I have supported, colleagues and professionals I have worked with and services I have visited and worked within. For example, I recall visiting a service that supported people with learning difficulties that used colours on picture cards to help with choices and decisions. Hospitals that used colours to brighten what would otherwise be dull and medical looking rooms – especially for children. Uniforms that have colours to distinguish who the person is that works within a service but also none wearing of uniforms to not distinguish staff from the person using the service – such as when supporting and individual to access services within the community.
Yes – colour is extremely important.
Many times I have tried to explain the importance of colour within health and social care. Why I’m looking a diabetic and wellness socks that actually have colour within them (see my article here – colour in wellness and health products – for more on this) rather than being plain. I will soon be working with the Royal College of Podiatry to explore this a little more as well as other organisations that support individuals within health and wellbeing sectors – but most importantly, the individuals themselves.
What does colour mean to you?
Look around where you are right now. Really take-in the colours that you see and appreciate how they make you feel. Share in the comments below what you feel about colour or how it’s helped to make you feel calm and relaxed – especially at the moment with Covid. I really do love to hear your stories!