January has long been considered the blue month, the post Christmas blues, the New Year blues, the broken resolution blues, it even has a dedicated blue Monday - today it is time to engage in some colour therapy and move away from those blue tones.
Take a moment to look around you, wherever you happen to be, at home, in the office or sat on a bus, scan around yourself and see what colour jumps out at you. It could be a child's red coat, or the orange of those healthy clementines you keep meaning to eat, that purple shopping bag, that flash of yellow from a passing car. As you look around, one colour will nearly always jump out at you.
And this colour could be indicative of your mood.
Colour therapy over the years has established a list of colours and their related moods, these colour wheels can be as simplistic or as sophisticated as you are willing to make them, with as many varied nuances of feelings as there are shades of colour - here are two examples:
The emotions are arranged by their opposites on the other side of the wheel =
Happy to Sad, Fear to Anger, Trust to Disgust, Anticipation to Surprise.
On many colour wheels, the more intense the colour - the more intense the emotion.
But with humans being capable of approximately 34,000 emotions, even this is a pretty basic example.
The most widely used and recognised colour wheel used in therapy was developed by American psychologist Dr. Robert Plutchik, who spent extensive years studying people and their emotions and proposed a basic primary wheel of eight emotions that would serve as the foundations for all others; joy, sadness, acceptance, disgust, fear, anger, surprise and anticipation.
The wheel helps us to identify and understand our emotions and the effects that these can have on our lives and the choices that we make. If we lack the vocabulary for these emotions we can lack the emotional intelligence required to identify them, validate them, and ultimately to deal with them
"The key to emotional intelligence is learning the language of emotions”.
Plutchik books are available here
Plutchik full survey findings here
Putting a name to an emotion helps to bring clarity to it and in helping us to understand it, can remove some of the anxiety around that emotion, leaving us freer to cope with it.
But as well as using colour to grow and develop our emotional intelligence and mental healing abilities, we can also use colour to affect and change our moods.
The advertising industry has used a basic colour-to-mood chart to sell us all sorts of things over the years, from books, to clothes to toothbrushes. We often make subconscious judgements about a person, environment or product based on colour, and the effects of colour can be both subtle and powerful.
Colour psychology studies have revealed how different colours can determine human behaviour and provoke an emotional reaction - the natural extension of this has taken practitioners into the use of art as a therapeutical tool, allowing for non-verbal communication of a state of mind.
But what does all this mean for you? After a blue January, where does February take you?
Take a moment to identify which colours are leaping out at you - are they reflecting your mood? To what intensity? If they are negative can you identify the causes? Are you able to deal with them?
Use the psychology of colour to change your mood - generate the mood that you want by incorporating its representative colour into your daily life. Wear it, paint it, find it in the natural world around you.
Colour is one of the most impactful ways the natural world has of interacting with us, we can learn to use these same colours to communicate with ourselves to our advantage and impact our behaviours, our emotions and our mental health.