Living with a chronic illness presents an array of challenges, both physical and emotional. In addition to managing symptoms and medical treatments, many patients also struggle with feelings of anxiety, depression, isolation, and frustration. The constant need to care for one’s health can become mentally and emotionally exhausting over time. Finding holistic therapies that can help soothe the mind as well as the body is so important for overall wellbeing. One creative approach that more and more patients are exploring is color therapy for chronic illness.
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The basic premise of color therapy for chronic illness or otherwise is that different colors evoke different emotions and physiological responses in humans. Exposing yourself to certain colors may provide comfort, joy, relaxation, or other therapeutic benefits that support mental and physical health. Unlike medications or other mainstream medical treatments, color therapy has no side effects and can be done easily at home.
Understanding Color Therapy for Chronic Illness
Color psychology is the in-depth study of how different hues affect emotions, behaviors, and perceptions in human beings. Extensive research has shown that our brains and bodies react in measurable ways to different wavelengths of visible light. Here is a more detailed overview of some of the most common psychological and physiological associations with major colors:
- Red – Energy, passion, strength, increased heart rate and blood pressure
- Orange – Vitality, creativity, adventure, boosts socialization and appetite
- Yellow – Happiness, optimism, clarity, stimulates mental activity and metabolism
- Green – Growth, balance, renewal, and calmness
- Blue – Calm, peaceful, stable, lowers heart rate and blood pressure
- Purple – Spiritual, mystical, imaginative, increases sensitivity and intuition
- Pink – Gentle, soothing, romantic, calming, sense of care
- White – Purity, simplicity, cleanliness, aids mental clarity
- Black – Sophistication, mystery, empty space
Of course, not everyone will have the exact same response to a given color. Our personal experiences and cultural associations contribute to the meanings and feelings we attach to them. However, the general patterns seen in rigorous color psychology studies provide useful guidance when choosing hues for therapeutic purposes.
Color Therapy Techniques
If you live with conditions like fibromyalgia, dysautonomia, or chronic migraine, consider making more intentional use of color therapy for chronic illness in your home environment and self-care practices. Color should be used thoughtfully, with specific therapeutic goals in mind. You could even discuss this strategy with a more conventional therapist!
If you’re struggling with your mental health, consider utilizing Talkspace online therapy.
My favorite method is surprisingly simple—colored glasses! Viewing the world through colored glasses filters your vision to immerse you in that hue. Special eyewear products are available, but you can also DIY with transparent colored cellophane. For example, I have a few pairs of green glasses for not only those benefits of growth, balance, renewal, and calmness but the benefits of green light for migraine.
I’ve also picked up Baker-Miller pink and blue glasses, which support feelings of relaxation, reduced aggression, and appetite suppression and feelings of improved communication and confidence in speaking, respectively.
Here are some more ideas for incorporating more color therapy into your life:
- Decorate with healing hues – Fill your living space with colors that promote the emotions you want to cultivate. Paint a wall blue for relaxation or accent with orange items to boost energy. Use different colors in different rooms for different goals.
- Wear colorful accessories – Choose scarves, shawls, socks, and other accessories in colors that will make you feel better throughout the day. Try purple for spiritual strength or green for rejuvenation. I even utilize this for veiling as well.
- Drink infused water – Sip water infused with sliced fruits and vegetables in soothing hues like cucumber (green) and strawberry (pink). Let the colors permeate internally for full mind-body benefits.
- Light therapy – Use lamps or lightboxes that emit colored light. Red stimulates energy while blue light aids relaxation before bedtime. Green and pink lights have gentle, comforting effects.
- Eat colorful foods – Fill your plate with fruits and veggies of different hues for nutritional benefits and subtle color therapy every meal.
- Use visualization – Sit quietly with eyes closed and picture yourself bathed in the healing color of your choice. Imagine it surrounding and filling you. Aphantasia rules this one out for me but I imagine it could be super effective
No matter which techniques you try, the key is focusing your mind on the color and its particular therapeutic effects while engaging in the activity. Tuning your concentration fully into your color experience will provide the most psychological and emotional benefits.
Suggestions of Color Therapy for Chronic Illness
While any hue can be healing, some colors may be especially supportive for common challenges faced by those with chronic medical conditions:
- Blue – The soothing qualities of blue make it ideal for lessening anxiety, promoting inner calm and peace. Studies confirm it can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Surround yourself with sky blue to ease worries.
- Yellow – Sunny yellow boosts mood, sparks optimism and vitality, enhances clarity. It can help overcome gloomy feelings and depressive thoughts. Try decorating your environment with cheery yellow accents!
- Pink – There is a reason hospital nurseries are often painted in pink hues. The color is clinically proven to have calming, comforting effects. Pink radiates gentle warmth and care when you need emotional uplifting.
- Green – Abundant in nature, green signifies renewal, growth, healing. It activates feelings of spiritual balance and harmony. Enjoy green outdoor spaces, gaze upon green plants.
- Lavender – The elegant, soft hue of lavender eases sadness and soothes nerves. The color and herb itself can aid relaxation and sleep when you’re feeling frazzled. Sip lavender tea or rest your eyes on lavender flowers.
Using Color Intentionally
Living with the challenges of chronic illness means finding small boosts and coping strategies that can make your days a bit easier. Exploring the healing potential of color therapy for chronic illness can cost nothing and only really requires intention and consistency. Use calming blue when you feel anxious. Think pink thoughts when you need comfort. Designate a green corner for spiritual renewal. Let color work its therapeutic magic as part of your holistic self-care practices, whether you order colored glasses like mine or implement other strategies. With mindful use, your hues of choice can become powerful allies.