With proven calming abilities, this is the colour to combat modern-day stresses
We reveal why fresh, therapeutic leaf green is the perfect antidote to modern-day stresses
To the Japanese, the idea that the colour of fresh leaves has
therapeutic benefits would not come as a surprise. Shinrin-yoku, or the practice of ‘forest bathing’ (spending time in a forest), has been part of their national health programme since 1982, and from 2004 to 2012 around £3.2 million was spent studying its effects. One professor at a medical school in Tokyo showed in a 2009 study that cell activity linked with the immune system increased after shinrinyoku. Even better, the positive effects lasted for up to a month. Time in green spaces was also found to reduce hostility and depression. In other tests, participants who had spent time forest bathing were found to have reduced levels of cortisol (a hormone linked with stress), as well as lower heart rates and blood pressure. Of course, only a very small percentage of human history has been spent without close proximity to nature, so it is natural to believe that our physiology might have evolved to respond to the stimuli found in outside settings. Indeed, even looking at images of greenery has measurable benefits.
Although nature comes in more shades than we could ever name, our association between the natural world and the colour green has deep roots. The Ancient Egyptian hieroglyph for green was a stalk of papyrus. On a scientific level, a green substance, chlorophyll, is the cornerstone of the food chain: packed into leaves, it is essential for photosynthesis, the process by which plants harvest the sun’s energy. Perhaps part of the reason green is soothing to us is because we subconsciously associate it with plentiful food supplies.
When, in December 2016, Pantone named ‘Greenery’ as the colour of 2017, it specifically talked about it as an antidote to the stresses of modern life. To promote the virtues of the shade, it collaborated with Airbnb to create a greenery-themed apartment in London. The entrance was styled like a woodland walk, complete with tree-stump stepping stones, and one of the bedrooms had a manicured lawn in place of a carpet. This might be a bit much for the average house, but since modern life doesn’t show signs of becoming any less hectic and stressful, perhaps we can inoculate ourselves against its effects by inviting the vibrant colours of shinrin-yoku into our homes.
Nature comes in many shades, but our association between the natural world and the colour green has deep roots
Paints to try ‘Pixie Green’ paint, £31.49 for 2.5 litres, Dulux (dulux.co.uk). ‘ Leaf Green’ linseed paint, £ 38 for one litre, Oricalcum (oricalcum.uk). ‘ Vert Kasbouri No.1’ paint, £22 per litre, Emery & Cie (emeryetcie.com) PANTONE 369CP