Chromotherapy: How Color Affects Your Mood

With the ability to evoke a serious emotional response, even if you don’t know it’s happening…

Remember that moment in “Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy wakes up after the tornado and everything is vibrant and bold and exciting (especially after 30 minutes spent in dreary, grey Kansas)? Or in “Pleasantville” when the town’s citizens start experiencing life for the first time and color seeps in? Black-and-white films of yore are romantic and mysterious, but there’s a reason movie studios eventually moved to technicolor—color is crazy-powerful, and has the ability to evoke a serious emotional response, even if you don’t know it’s happening.

Whether you’re painting the walls of your bedroom, deciding between outfits for a date, or are just generally interested in chromotherapy, you too can use the power of color to your advantage.

Woke up feeling run down? Opt for that yellow sweater hanging in the back of your closet for boost of energy and inspiration. Big presentation coming up that you’re not feeling so hot about? A pair of gold shoes will trigger self-confidence and a sense of authority. Picking out colors for your meditation room? Violet walls can be soothing for both mental and emotional stress.

To take full advantage of color in your life, read on (and dress accordingly):

Red: Red often gets an intense rap as the color of blood and fire, but when you think about it, blood is the life force, and red is to color what a Beyonce-heavy playlist is to the gym: it will give you LIFE. It’s an intense color for sure, but wielded responsibly, red can go a long way in exciting you and offering a boost of courage.

Orange: A blend of the intensity of red and the optimism of yellow, orange is the color of stimulation. It will kick your butt into gear, imparting the enthusiasm and energy you need to accomplish pretty much anything on your to-do list.

Yellow: Smiley face emojis aren’t yellow by accident—the bright, cheery color is one of happiness, laughter and optimism. Yellow can wake up your mind, inspire mental agility and clarity, all while imparting an energy you might not have had before. The color of sunshine, daffodils and very cute puppies, it’s an attention-getter and a smile-inducer.

Green: Inspiring balance and harmony, the colors of nature are naturally soothing. And all that soothing sets the stage perfectly for harmonious growth (just like plants!) and health. When you find yourself stressed or getting worked up over something, think of the strong, stable roots of a tree and the softly fluttering green leaves living in harmony with the rest of the natural world, the weather and itself.

Blue: Just like serene lakes and rolling oceans have a calming effect, so too does the blue they wear so well. Use blue to soothe your mind, body and spirit, and calm whatever fires might be brewing internally. It’s easy to turn to a fiery color in times of turmoil, but shades of blue are your best bet at remaining serene, wise, and focused on the truth and what matters.

Purple: Historically the color of royalty, purple is often associated with wealth, sophistication, wisdom and prosperity, which makes it the perfect color to rock in job interview or salary negotiation. Lighter shades like violet are colors of transformation and soothing spirituality, perfect for a quick reconnection with yourself and what’s important.

Pink: There’s a reason Valentine’s Day—the day of all things love—is awash in pink tones. Of course, it’s associated with romance and love, but pink is also believed to impart a youthful energy, and what instills a more youthful energy than falling and being in love? What’s more, pink also helps you get in touch with your true feelings aka self-love and understanding. And more vibrant shades like magenta are thought to be magnetic….so, you know, love and literal attraction.

White: A color without a hue, white is sometimes thought to be the combination of all colors everywhere. It means balance and harmony, everything coming together into one perfect hue-less “color.” In some cultures, white signifies purity and innocence, while in others, it indicates light, illumination and wisdom. Either way, it’s hard to go wrong with a white outfit as it’s the perfect blank canvas, leaving you open to any possibility. (Maybe just stay away from tomato sauce.)

Black: On the opposite end of the spectrum is black, the darkest color that results from the complete absence or absorption of light. That’s right, black exists when there is no light; it is the most extreme of extremes. And though it’s easy to associate this light-eating color with evil and death, it’s also a symbol for power, intelligence and strength (perhaps because it’s eaten up all the light and so has its power, intelligence and strength).

Grey: In a surprise to no one, grey is often associated with feelings of indifference and apathy. Not only can a cloudy, overcast grey sky trigger feelings of sadness, but throwing on a grey ensemble won’t do anything to energize or bring your mood up. If you want to wallow, by all means keep rocking that grey sweatsuit, but something more vibrant will go a long way to perk you up. That said, grey is also the color of practicality, so it’s a good option if you need to get down to business.

Brown: The color of earth, brown has a serious grounding effect. It’s the color of nature and simplicity, and invites you to reconnect to your roots to get you back on solid ground. Brown is a reliable color, one that can make you feel safe and warm. If you’re feeling lost or flighty, reach for the safety of brown.

Silver: A color linked with the divine feminine, the energy of the moon and the tides, silver is fluid, emotional and sensitive while also being calming, stabilizing and purifying. If you’re feeling reflective or in need of some deep thinking, silver will help you reflect and shine light on what to do next. (Get it? Mirrors?)  

Gold: Shiny and rare, gold is the ultimate symbol of authority, confidence, passion and courage. These all may seem disjointed but think about it: gold is associated with success, a feat that requires confidence, passion and courage.

+ How does color affect your mood? Let us know in the comments below! 

Read more from our beauty contributor here!

Photos by Jana Kirn

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While I don’t like dressing in bright colours, I do find that yellow in general makes me more cheery. No wonder smiley faces are always yellow by default haha!

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

6 years ago

I like looking at white as I find it both calming and invigorating. Really, it comes down to the fact that I can focus better without color around me. For clothes, I exclusively bought grey for years. However, I’ve been adding in some light blue shades recently to add some variety. I like to see and make bright things but, my surroundings tend to be simple.

6 years ago

I love the power of colors. I’m an extremely visual person, so colors mean everything to me! Most of the time, I am wearing blue, grey, white, neutral pink, or black but I appreciate a good pop of color! Thanks for sharing!

6 years ago

I love the colour red :) full of passion and love.

6 years ago

Great Post! Thank you.
Ever since living in the Caribbean for a couple of years I have dressed in and loved bright colors in my life. Color makes me feel happy, free, and in love with life! I recently moved into a house where every wall was dark brown! Love the house, hate the dreary feel it had when you walked in. So, needless to say, the first thing my husband and I did was to paint every room a bright color… we have a range of yellow, orange, blue, green, and violet…truly makes me in love with my home and the life we have chosen!