Colour

With proven calm­ing abil­i­ties, this is the colour to com­bat mod­ern-day stresses

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents -

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

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