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Go Green: It is healing!

By Shameem Akhtar
December 14, 2014 15:47 IST
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Here are four health benefits of green colour: it heals, boosts memory, lowers anger and makes you lose more fat

In the eighties a much-cited research by environmental psychologist Roger Ulrich woke the scientific world to the impact of greenery on health. In a hospital study on patients recovering from an operation, he proved that those whose windows overlooked greenery recovered faster than the others in the control group.

A similar review of healing colours may have set the English town planners to repaint the London Bridge a soothing green: which many believe led to the dramatic drop in suicide rates (of those who jumped off the bridge).

Those engaged with interiors, architecture will also vouch for the fact that each colour has an impact on people, mostly at a very subliminal level (for instance, red colour is used by many eateries or bars to create a having-fun, feel-good high).

And that the impact of the colour green is that of soothing the nerves and relaxation.

Blue, for instance, is used (if you notice the logos of many financial institutes) to convey assurance and solidity, while yellow is used to stimulate the mind and create buoyancy.

This could mean a quick check on your favorite colour and see how its use (overuse) is likely impacting you without you knowing it. Also, it could mean you should be looking at your private space -- at work or in your home -- to see if you have the colour green to help you deal with life in a relaxed fashion.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, takes you through a few reasons why you should go green.

Green heals

Looking at greenery, either real or even an image, is said to relax your mind. This in turn sets off a parasympathetic nervous system relaxation process, and other systems that may be firing off -- like heart beat rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, pulse rate, sweating, muscle relaxation, blinking rate, pressure in certain sense organs -- are also invited to relax.

In turn, the systems that need to repair or work, like the uro-genital system, digestive system, are allowed to resume normal function (they get into a go-slow mode when you are stressed, accounting for digestive upsets or problems related to the sexual system for instance).

Many progressive hospitals are said to create healing green spaces to help speed up recovery of patients.

You could introduce green into your line of vision by just having a painting where green is the dominant shade. You could also download wallpapers for your laptop with a strong dominant green theme.

A potted plant which is lush or working on a window garden could be as effective and healing.

Memory boost

While red colour grabs attention, green colour is believed to improve your memory. This could be for all the same reasons that we cited above: that the mind is relaxed and when you try to learn something while the mind is relaxed and alert, it is far likely to remember it.

Mind-trainers and memory-boosters will advise you that studying or doing some demanding task beside or under a green light is likely to improve the recall value of what you are trying to learn.

Lowers anger

Again, because green impacts breathing and heart rate, it could be used to reduce the inflammatory impact of anger. Anger is an outbreak of the sympathetic nervous system (which sets off the body in the fight or flight mode, to deal with perceived threat).

Since green has the opposite impact, it could be used to control anger (by having about you accessories/visible jewellery which are green in colour).

If it is a simmering anger, perhaps taking a walk out in some greenery will bring your mind back to a state of balance and deal with the problem instead of being consumed by it. It will also help you recover from the aftermath of anger (like inflammation inside that causes many diseases).

It makes you eat less, lose more fat

Unbelievable, but true, that if you were to choose green plates you are likely to cut out on white (fattening stuff) simply because researchers have found that colour contrast on the plate actually makes you eat less.

Plus, green food stuffs -- whether in fruits, vegetables or sauces -- could mean lesser calories.

Green smoothies are healthier than the creamy ones. Having more green choices on your plates means more nutrients and anti-oxidants and thus, less hunger.

One of the reasons many of us over-eat is because of nutritional deficiencies which in turn create cravings.

Green tea, again, is a weight loss aid and a better choice for various reasons -- whether it concerns emotional stability or weight control goals and must be preferred over other caffeine or soft-drink fixes.

Photograph: kalexander2010/Wikimedia Commons

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Shameem Akhtar