Updated: Oct 16, 2022
The health benefits of being in nature are obvious and most of us have accepted the fact that being physically active and breathing in clean, fresh air is good for us. But what about what's happening beneath the surface?
Have you ever noticed that after a walk in nature or anywhere outdoors, that you feel energized? Is it possible, that the impact of colour and light is affecting us on a physiological level?
If so, the concept is known as chromotherapy. It's theory is that the body responds to colour vibration and has a positive impact on our wellbeing. Colour frequency is based on wavelengths in the colour spectrum, with each colour vibrating at a different frequency. Chromotherapy believes that these frequencies can impact us energetically.
While the concept of chromotherapy may not be widely accepted, the significance and meaning of colour is. There are historical references to colour that span time, culture and religion. Modern society agrees that colour can impact us and practical applications in buildings have being used for over a century.
The science and theory of colour being used to reinforce a building's purpose is most common in hospitals. Doctors and nurses originally wore white to maintain cleanliness, but blue and green eventually proved to be more appropriate. With the rise of surgical procedures during war in the early 1900's, the innovative thinking of one doctor initiated the use of blue 'scrubs' during surgery. While the initial reason for this was to differentiate clothes that were ‘scrubbed clean’ to reduce the spread of germs (and the likelihood of infection during operations), the additional benefits soon became apparent.
Using blue smocks not only reduced glare and eye strain to surgeons, it also prevented the occurrence of optical illusions in the operating room. A phenomenon called successive contrast occurs after extended time staring into the red blood of surgical procedures. An after affect of the blotch appears in its complimentary colour, creating a shadow shape that is especially prominent against white surfaces. Once the switch to blue scrubs was made, the blotches would blend in, barely being noticed.
In time, it also became accepted that colour could help patients in their recovery. The colour green was adopted to help recovery in illness. Green symbolizes growth and life and is also the colour for balance, harmony and restful states of mind. So it is not just coincidence that most hospitals are green, the colour may actually help with healing.
With this in mind, I turn to the vibrant colours of fall and the unique opportunity they present in chromotherapy. Fall leaves, awash in glowing orange and yellow, with splashes of red, provide us with the perfect remedy to strengthen the mind, body and spirit. And the timing is ideal, just before winter.
Yellow, like the shining sun, is known for its strength and optimism. It is one of the most invigorating colours of the spectrum, also providing benefit to the nerves, glands and the brain. The colour yellow can energize us, making us more alert and aware. Orange and yellow also inspire creativity and stimulate the immune system.
Trees offer this incredible gift, allowing us to directly experience chromotherapy, every fall. All you need to do is take a walk, or enjoy the view. Immerse yourself in a forest or under the canopy of a tree and you will gain the many benefits that fall has to offer.