Color’s Gifts

After a tiring 13-hour plane ride to Singapore, I gratefully exited the plane and wearily walked into the airport, hoping it wouldn’t take too long to find my luggage and hotel. After the dull colors in the airplane, I was delighted to see large containers of blooming flowers and small trees all along the walkway from the disembarking area to the terminal exit door. In the background, soft classical music was playing as I eagerly feasted on all the colors of the blossoms and leaves in front of me. I gradually felt my energy renewing. It was so nourishing that I went from weary walking to having a spring in my step, and from worrying about how to make all my connections to relaxing into the process. The airport planners were using color psychology to de-stress tired travelers, and it worked.

Every day we’re surrounded by a glorious array of colors that are influencing us, whether we are aware of it or not. Colors create mood, convey information, trigger physical reactions, and even influence what we purchase. Color psychology is a growing field of study that I find fascinating. Think of the colors we use in expressions that describe emotions like, “I’m green with envy,” or “They’re so angry they see red,” or “I’m feeling down and blue.” There’s even an entire style of music called “the blues.” Our feelings about colors are both personal and cultural. For example, Western countries view white as representing purity and freshness, but in Eastern countries it is a symbol of mourning.

In the local publication Vero Beach 32963, the February 13 edition featured an article by Caroline Leaper titled, “Why Wearing Color is Proven to Have Good Mental Benefits.” It talked about all the bright colors worn by movie stars on the red carpet, and how color affects both the wearer and the viewer. In the article is this quote by Jules Standish: “Our reaction to seeing inspiring, bright, harmonious things is mood lifting, which in turn has a physical effect, improving blood pressure and strengthening the nervous system.” We impact ourselves and the people around us because colors create a neurological response.

Standish also says, “Every color has a purpose, an influence, and a power to
change the way we look and feel about ourselves and the way others view us, too.” On the color spectrum there are warm colors and cool colors. The warm colors of red, orange, and yellow can speed up our metabolism and evoke emotions ranging from warmth, comfort, and satisfaction, to feelings of frustration and anger if there’s an overdose. Cool colors include blue, purple, and green, which promote calmness, serenity, and relaxation, as well as sadness and ambivalence if experienced in overwhelming amounts. 

Color’s gifts are ours for the taking, and those of us with cancer know how
important it is to feel good even on our most challenging days. Color psychology works, so wear that brightly colored outfit to your chemo treatment: You’ll give yourself and everyone in the room a serotonin lift. Wear your favorite color top and pants on days at home to keep your spirits up. Have some bright scarfs and caps handy to make you smile while encouraging your hair to regrow. Wear your warm power colors to each doctor visit to remind yourself that you are the one making the decisions. Choose a soft afghan in a cool, calming color for napping, and give yourself pictures to enjoy in your home that have tranquil colors to encourage peace of mind. Look in your clothes closet, identify what pieces make you feel happy, and wear them with enthusiasm.

Friends After Diagnosis has a hair and makeup class called FriendShine that’s available for those needing a boost in the middle of treatment, as well as a program called Healing Arts in Medicine that includes art classes where all your inner feelings can come out in every shade and hue you need to express. Use color’s gifts to keep yourself encouraged, uplifted, and creatively expressing who you are with every color of the rainbow. Here’s to being our own beautiful, unique, colorful selves.

Until Next Time – Sylvia

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