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What Are the Most Relaxing Colors?

By S. Mithra
Updated May 16, 2024
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The most relaxing colors are generally believed to be cool shades such as green and blue. Designers, psychologists, feng shui experts, and advertisers all agree that blues and greens make us feel calm, balanced, and less emotional. They use these hues, especially a sage green, in hospitals, test centers, and television stations to ease nerves and attenuate harsh emotions. Whether this reaction has to do with the effect of wavelengths on brain chemistry, linguistic associations, cultural meanings, or coincidence, has yet to be fully determined.

Interior designers noted that people consistently describe rooms painted blue and green as relaxing and harmonious, a finding that has been backed up by scientific studies. Architects and painters use colors from the cool part of the spectrum like blues and greens on walls and ceilings in bedrooms and bathrooms where people like feeling peaceful.

Driving down any highway in the United States, you'll notice that every sign noting an exit or interchange is comprised of reflective white letters on a chalky, dark green background. Civil engineers determined that a driver's eyes don't get as tired looking at print on a green field, yet the colors provide enough contrast for easy character recognition. Another place we see green used is in the "green room" of theaters or television studios because nervous performers are quieted by the color. This is also the reason surgeons wear green scrubs. Hospital waiting rooms, psychiatric wards, and prison cells often paint their walls green for the same effect.

Scientific researchers in neurology, psychology, and ophthalmology actually have found some preliminary evidence that the relaxing effects of green do not solely depend on cultural associations with leaves or meadows. Our eye perceives color using tiny sensors called cones. Certain cones are sensitive to red or green or blue light. However, overall they are the most sensitive to wavelengths at 510 nm, which translates to green light. Researchers hypothesize that this sensitivity to green objects might affect hormonal production or the circulation of neurotransmitters that in turn influence mood.

Chromotherapy goes back to ancient Chinese and Egyptian practices of using different colors to heal medical problems. Recent studies have shown that when exposed to green colored paper or placed in a green room, a person's heart rate drops, blood pressure lowers, and muscles relax, while hot colors like red or orange cause these values to rise. There is some scientific backing, after all, to the idea that green is the most relaxing color.

A well-designed indoor putting green brings a touch of nature indoors, creating a serene and inviting atmosphere. The lush green turf can transform any room into a soothing oasis, allowing you to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life while enjoying the pleasure of practicing your golf skills. Whether in a living room, office, or even a dedicated leisure area, a putting green for home offers the perfect blend of leisure and tranquility, making it an ideal addition to your interior design.

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Discussion Comments
By anon997966 — On Mar 24, 2017

Light green actually cause depression in the long run. There are several prisons which use this little trick.

By anon991697 — On Jul 10, 2015

Hospitals use green due to daltonic people!

By anon355799 — On Nov 19, 2013

Sunrise colours are more blue/green, and it really does make sense now thinking about the nights I wake up to pray, the darkness becomes bluish/ green. It is very relaxing even when the fact of the matter is that you are going back to sleep after a couple of minutes. Thank you for submitting the article.

By anon346504 — On Aug 29, 2013

Interesting. However, the warmer colours, especially orange, are associated with sunset, so if our brains register one of those hues, we begin to feel relaxed whereas blue, the color of the day, wakes us up.

Yellow, perhaps?

By kylee07drg — On Dec 03, 2012

I do all of my meditation and relaxation in my bedroom. When I rented the house, I painted the bedroom walls a medium shade of blue, and I got a big plush green rug for the floor.

I can stare at the walls and take my mind off of everything. It's like looking into a calming, empty space in which I can envision possibilities.

The green rug is thick and comfortable. It fits with the calming atmosphere in the room.

By shell4life — On Dec 02, 2012

I really wish my doctor would use relaxing paint colors on her exam room walls! I get so nervous whenever I'm there. My blood pressure goes up, and I just feel really uneasy in those stark white rooms.

By healthy4life — On Dec 02, 2012

I did not know that blue is a relaxing paint color. I did know that it is supposed to command respect.

The boss often wears blue when he has to meet with employees. Also, I've noticed that potential employers often wear blue during job interviews.

I guess it's good that blue is also calming, because the interviewee is sure to be nervous! I think wearing blue is a good way to set the tone for the interview.

By Perdido — On Dec 01, 2012

I just can't ignore these colors' obvious symbolism. Green is trees and grass, and blue is the clear sky with no troubling storm clouds or dreary gray stratus clouds.

Even if it's been scientifically proven that the relaxing effect is from something other than this symbolism, I know that nature can be calming. Just ask anyone who walks outside on a sunny day in spring or summer.

I know that I always feel better after I've taken a walk in the park during my lunch break. Even if I've been having a stressful day, the exposure to the greens and blues calms my nerves.

By anon301224 — On Nov 02, 2012

I would like to know how a color can be calming when you hate it? Our workplace is going to paint some of our labs green and the color they chose makes me want to throw up. I have been in display homes with green rooms and I get agitated. Am I just an anomaly? I don't think so.

By anon278461 — On Jul 06, 2012

Is it a good idea to paint my bedroom in some shades of light green and white? Because people say that green is relaxing, calming and "fatiguing", but I'll also study hard in this room.

By anon274681 — On Jun 12, 2012

I agree that green is a very relaxing color. Recently I painted my room shades of green, and one time when my friend was over she said that, for some unknown reason, she always feels tired when she comes in my room. She attributed it to the bright green paint, and I agreed, and noticed that I, too, feel exhausted whenever I'm in my room. I searched online to see if anyone else felt that green was a color with a calming/sleepy effect, and it turns out it does indeed.

By anon40648 — On Aug 10, 2009

i am a manager at a testing center and i would like to repaint our waiting room to make it more relaxing and calming for my clients awaiting their HIV results. i read now that blue and green are relaxing, but how do i combine them/what other colours can i use so i can also decorate the place without spoiling the effect of the blue and green color?

By malena — On Feb 01, 2008

I always hear that blue is a relaxing color...but I thought I also heard once that it is a depressing color. Perhaps it can be too relaxing? Is this true?

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