How Colors Affect Feelings

Emotional response is another aspect to consider when choosing colors.

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COLORS

By Rosemary Sadez Friedmann
Scripps Howard News Service

Scientists have studied the effect of color on our mood, health and way of thinking for many years. Our preference of one color over another may have something to do with the way color makes us feel.

Light is absorbed by the eye and converted into another form of energy, which enables us to see color. This energy affects and is felt even by people without sight. Light energy stimulates the pituitary and pineal glands, which regulate hormones and other physiological systems in the body.

We know that red stimulates, excites and warms the body, increases the heart rate, brain wave activity and respiration. Mothers are encouraged to stimulate infants' brains by dangling mobiles containing bright red balls on them.

If high blood pressure, hypertension or poor coordination afflict a person, they should not decorate their rooms with the color red.

Pink has a soothing effect and can even relax the muscles. Pink's tranquilizing effect has gained its entrance in prisons, hospital rooms and drug centers.

Are there finicky eaters in your kitchen? Try using an orange tablecloth or placemats. Orange stimulates the appetite and reduces fatigue. Of course, if you're on a diet, avoid orange.

Yellow is a memory stimulator. A touch of yellow in every room might just help you remember where you left your keys or eyeglasses. Yellow also raises blood pressure and pulse rate but not to the degree that red does.

Green reminds us of spring and therefore new beginnings. It brings feelings of calm, anticipation and hope, and it has a soothing, relaxing effect on the body as well as the mind. Still on that diet? Green is good as it could help control the anxiety associated with the discipline of controlling yourself from impulsive and over-eating. Maybe that avocado green refrigerator isn't such a bad thing after all.

Blue is another relaxing color. Pleasant dreams might be the end result of coloring the bedroom in shades of blue. It has a calming effect on the body: it lowers blood pressure, heart rate and respiration and in hot, humid weather has a cooling effect.

Another study shows that blue in the classroom can be a good thing. Children prone to tantrums and aggressive behavior became calmer after being in a classroom painted blue. Both blind and sighted children reacted the same when placed in blue surroundings.

More likely than not, if a particular color is preferred, it most likely is needed by the body. The pleasant and appealing response the body gives is a sort of "thank you" from body to brain.

Rosemary Sadez Friedmann, an interior designer in Naples, Fla., is author of Mystery of Color, available at Barnes & Noble Booksellers and online.

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