2020 has been a trying year. Life has been shaken up in ways we could never have imagined. But if there’s a lesson to be learned, it’s that pleasure can sometimes be gained from the smallest of things.
Many of us have spent much more time outdoors than we ever have before, and if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere with as much natural beauty as Orkney, you might have been paying more attention to the spectrum of colours that come with each changing season. I know I have.
But outside of being something pleasing to the eye, what can colour do for us?
I put some questions to Rebecca Dearman, a colour therapist,to find out her thoughts on all things colour, and how it can affect our very moods.
Rebecca alongside her partner Ronnie, runs The Yoga Shed in Crieff, an alternative and holistic health service. Trained in the Aura Soma form of colour therapy, she links colour and spirituality, and believes colour can be used to bring balance to a person.
How does colour affect our mood?
“Consider common themes of each colour, i.e. red – passion and high energy; yellow - sunshine and vitality; purple - royalty. Already you might be thinking about associating themes, words and feelings. What you might not be noticing is how your body is reacting, e.g. tense tummy, dry throat, fidgety limbs.
“Colour can affect us in many ways, but the way it affects our mood can be quite subtle. Advertising and product designers have known this for some time. Fast food outlets use bright reds, oranges and yellows to ‘energise’ us; we eat quickly and leave. Therapeutic environments use blues and greens to suggest calmness. And purple? Think chocolate and cigarettes - special, luxury items.
“The colours we surround ourselves with, whether it’s clothes, paint or food, all have underlying themes and these can enhance our sense of well-being or affect us detrimentally.”
Is it possible then to lift our moods through colour?
“Like music, colour can lift the spirits. In general, vibrant colours of red, orange and yellow are energising, whereas blue, green and purples can be calming and relaxing.
“Colour can be ‘absorbed’ by wearing clothes, sitting in a room and eating food of a certain colour.”
How can we harness the colours around us?
“Nature provides its own recipe of colours, moving through the seasons offering a wonderful palette. So spending time in nature is not just about fresh air and exercise.
“We generally have more control over our built environment so chose your colours with awareness. If you have to live with someone else’s colours that you don’t like, try and add one item of your choice or wear the colour you would chose.
“Work places can also be problematic, again try to bring in your own colours if you can.”
If we don’t live somewhere with a lot of colour, how can we introduce more colour into our lives?
“Charity shops! Cheap places to find things which you may want to change as your own ‘season’ changes.
“Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be scared to try things out, that’s how you find out what you really like!
“Sample pots of paint are great to try out new colours in an inexpensive way. I’m not a scarf person, but they are good for providing a splash of colour. Try ‘eating a rainbow’ of healthy options and you get the benefit of the colour too.
I am also fascinated by light, so anything that can sit on a window sill (or near any light source), will filter that light and produce colour. If you have any outdoor space, include colour as flowers, ornaments, a painted fence and anything thatreflects light.”
2020 has been a difficult year for many. Are there any colours that you think might help people lift their moods over the coming months?
“Winter can be difficult for many people, especially this year. Cultures around the world have festivals of light and colour during their dark times to help lift everyone’s mood. As the current crisis is very stressful and ever changing colours that calm and reassure would help.
“Any colour might be someone’s personal choice, but I would suggest that these colours are muted, light and supportive. Vibrant red generally excites and energies passion, but with that could come aggression and anger.
Currently we might need an energy boost, but the fragility of people’s nerves would be in danger of being over stressed. Pale, soothing blues, greens, pinks and violets with a dash ofpale yellow would all offer a gentle hug.”
Do you have a favourite colour for 2020 and why?
“Not really. While volunteering at a local market garden this year I discovered a passion for roses, we were picking the flower heads and drying the petals to make confetti. I don’t grow them myself as I find them too thorny, but spending hours breaking up the heads and carefully sorting them into similar shades I was won over by the range of pinks and purples they produced.
“I love purple. The more deep magenta, the better. So they were my favourite.”
A big thank you to Rebecca, I really enjoyed and learned so much from our conversation. And now have a greater understanding why I have been seeking out a lot of yellow in my wardrobe and home. I hope just by reading this blog today the images and word have inspired and motivated you to bring some more colour to your lives.