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Abstract

The study was conducted to determine the effect of colors on stress reduction. The study yielded the following results: There was a significant reduction in the studnets’ level of stress after exposure to blue and pink color therapy. Moreover, a significant difference in the stress levels between the students with and without color therapy. In conclusion, being in the clinical duty is a stressful experience among students. The students’ stress levels were reduced after exposure to blue and pink color therapy. Those students with color therapy had a higher reduction of stress level than those who did not receive the therapy. Both blue and pink are soothing colors, but blue has higher effect on the reduction of stress level. Key words - color therapy, stress reduction, blue and pink colors
95
INTRODUCTION
The roots of the therapeutic effects of color can be traced way back to the ancient
Egyptian mythology. The art of healing with color was founded by the god Thoth,
include the use of color in healing. In the Hermetic tradition, the Ancient Egyptians
and Greeks used colored minerals, stones, crystals, salves, and dyes as remedies. They
also painted their treatment sanctuaries in various shades of color. Recent applications
on color therapy show that color is becoming widely accepted as a therapeutic tool
with various medical applications. A new technique, which has been developed over
the past two decades as a result of pioneering research, is photodynamic therapy, or
PDT. This is based on the discovery that certain intravenously injected photosensitive
chemicals not only accumulate in cancer cells but selectively identify these cells under
Today, the pace of the modern world is breathtaking Although there are many
benefits of living in this age, people are also noticing the buildup of stress The stress
people experience takes its toll on their bodies Although it is experienced first in the
Abstract - The study was conducted to determine the effect of colors
on stress reduction. The study yielded the following results: There was
blue and pink color therapy. Moreover, a significant difference in the
stress levels between the students with and without color therapy. In
conclusion, being in the clinical duty is a stressful experience among
blue and pink color therapy. Those students with color therapy had
a higher reduction of stress level than those who did not receive the
therapy. Both blue and pink are soothing colors, but blue has higher
effect on the reduction of stress level.
Key words - color therapy, stress reduction, blue and pink colors
The Role of Colors in Stress Reduction
LESLEY C. LUBOS
Dawsonia@yahoo.com
Liceo de Cagayan University
Final Revision Accepted: May 6, 2008
Vol 5 No.2 December 2008 ISSN: 2094-1064 Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7828/ljher.v5i2.39
96
Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
has changed a lot over time. Response to stress has not. Today, stressors are more likely
to be the slow driver of people, such as nerve-wracking requirements in school, the
evening news, pollution in the air, and conicts in relationships.
Nowadays, stress is one of the highest risk factors for heart disease, together with
diet, exercise, and heredity. The solution to staying healthy within peoples’ stressful
lives is to reduce stress and lessen the vulnerability to stress (hp://www.wellness.com).
The third year Nursing students of Liceo de Cagayan University, as the researcher has
observed, are no exception to experiencing stress and its eects. They become very
stressed, agitated, anxious, exhausted, and eventually drained aer their clinical duties.
For such, some of them would not have the energy to nish other responsibilities or
time for other subjects. As a result, both clinical and academic performances become
mediocre.
The researcher decided to pursue this study for the purpose of not just contributing
a feasible means to reducing stress in students through the techniques used in color
therapy, but also making this study a part of their health teachings to their clients and
patients.
FRAMEwORk
Avicenna, an Arab physician and disciple of Aristotle, advanced the art of healing.
In his Canon of Medicine (Avicenna, 980 AD), he made clear the vital importance of
color in both diagnosis and treatment. Avicenna, noting that color was an observable
symptom of disease, developed a chart that related color to temperament and the
physical condition of the body. He used color in treatment - insisting that red moved
the blood, blue or white cooled it, and yellow reduced pain and inammation. He
usually prescribed potions of red owers to cure blood disorders, and yellow owers
and morning sunlight to cure disorders of the biliary system.
Avicenna wrote also of the possible dangers of color in treatment. He observed
that a person with a nosebleed, for example, should not gaze at things of a brilliant red
color or be exposed to red light because this would stimulate the sanguineous humor,
whereas blue would soothe it and reduce blood ow. Furthermore, one of the most
renowned healers during the renaissance period was Theophrastus Bombastus von
Hohenheim (1493-1541), known as Paracelsus. He aributed his understanding of the
laws and practices of medicine to his conversations with witches (women who were
primarily pagan healers purged by the Church). Paracelsus regarded light and color as
essential for good health and used them extensively in treatment, together with elixirs,
charms, talismans, herbs, and minerals.
However, aer the Middle Ages, Paracelsus and other alchemists lost their
prestige when mysticism and magic were overtaken by rationalism and science. By
the eighteenth century, “enlightenment” had taken on a new meaning. It was the name
given to a philosophical movement that stressed the importance of reason and the
critical appraisal of existing ideas. Reason dictated that all knowledge had to be certain
and evident; anything about which there could be doubt was rejected. As a result, the
divine gradually disappeared from the scientic world view. By the nineteenth century,
the emphasis in science was exclusively on the material rather than the spiritual. As
medicine came under the umbrella of science, it, too, focused on the material physical
body, ignoring the mind and spirit. In the advent of physical medicine and such
treatments as surgery and antiseptics, interest in healing with color declined. It did not
resurface until the nineteenth century, and then not in Europe but in North America
97
(hp://www.nlm. nih.gov/exhibition/ paracelsus/paracelsus_2. html).
Then in 1876, Augustus Pleasanton published Blue and Sun-lights, in which
he reported his ndings on the eects of color on plants, animals, and humans. He
claimed that the quality, yield, and size of grapes could be signicantly increased if
they were grown in greenhouses made with alternating blue and transparent panes of
glass. He also reported having cured certain diseases and increased fertility, as well as
the rate of physical maturation in animals, by exposing them to blue light. In addition,
Pleasanton maintained that blue light was eective in treating human disease and
pain. His work gained supporters but was dismissed by the medical establishment
as unscientic (hp://www.sci-art-global.com/acne/ about-our-lights/html). In 1877, a
distinguished physician named Dr. Seth Pancoast published Blue and Red Lights. He,
too, advocated the use of color in healing (hp://www.sci-art-global. com/acne/about-
our-lights/html).
In 1878, Edwin Babbit published the principles of Light and Color. The second
edition, published in 1896, aracted worldwide aention. Babbit advanced a
comprehensive theory of healing with color. He identied the color red as a stimulant,
notably to blood and to a lesser extent to the nerves, yellow and orange as nerve
stimulants, blue and violet as soothing to all systems and with anti-inammatory
properties. Accordingly, Babbit prescribed red for paralysis, consumption, physical
exhaustion, and chronic rheumatism; yellow as a laxative, emetic and purgative, and
for bronchial diculties; and blue for inammatory conditions, sciatica, meningitis,
nervous headache, irritability, and sunstroke. Babbit developed various devices,
including a special cabinet called the Thermolume, which used colored glass and
natural light to produce colored light. He also developed the Chromo Disk, a funnel-
shaped device ed with special color lters that could localize light onto various parts
of the body.
Babbit further established the correspondence between colors and minerals,
which he used as an addition to treatment with colored light, and developed elixirs
by irradiating water with sunlight ltered through colored lenses. He claimed that this
“potentized” water retained the energy of the vital elements within the particular color
lter used, and that it had remarkable healing power. Solar tinctures of this kind are
still made and used today by many color therapists (hp://www.sci-art-global.com/
acne/about-our-lights.html). Chromopaths then sprang up throughout the country and
Britain, developing extensive color prescriptions for every conceivable ailment. By the
end of the nineteenth century, red light was used to prevent scars from forming in cases
of smallpox, and cures were later reported among tuberculosis patients exposed to
sunlight and ultraviolet rays. Nevertheless, the medical profession remained skeptical
of claims made about healing with color (hp://hanezebs. com/Online/info/color_
therapy.html).
Investigations into the therapeutic use of color were carried out in Europe during
the early twentieth century, notably by Rudolph Steiner, who related color to form,
shape, and sound. He suggested that the vibrational quality of certain colors is amplied
by some forms, and that certain combinations of color and shape have either destructive
or regenerative eects on living organisms. In the schools inspired by Steiner’s work,
classrooms are painted and textured to correspond to the “mood” of children at various
stages of their development (hp://www.kheper.netltopics/Anthroposophy/ Steiner.
html).
Rudolph Steiner’s work was continued by Theo Gimbel, who established the
Hygeia Studios and College of Color Therapy in Britain. Among the principles
The Role of Colors in Stress Reduction L.C. Lubos
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Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
explored by Gimbel are the claims of Max Luscher, a former professor of psychology at
Basle University, who claimed that color preferences demonstrate states of mind and/
or glandular imbalance, and can be used as the basis for physical and psychological
diagnosis. Luschers theory, which forms the basis of the Luscher Color Test, rests on
the idea that the signicance of color for man originates in his early history, when his
behavior was governed by night and day. Luscher believed that the colors associated
with these two environments — yellow and dark blue — are connected with dierences
in metabolic rate and glandular secretions appropriate to the energy required for
nighime sleep and daytime hunting. He also believed that autonomic (involuntary)
responses are associated with other colors (hp://www.netpets.com/—temperamentl
temperament/types.html).
Support for Luscher’s theories was provided in the 1940s by the Russian
scientist S. V. Krakov, who established that the color red stimulates the sympathetic
part of the autonomic nervous system, while blue stimulates the parasympathetic
part. His ndings were conrmed in 1958 by Robert Gerard. Gerard found that red
produced feelings of arousal, and was disturbing to anxious or tense subjects, while
blue generated feelings of tranquility and well being and had a calming eect. The
discovery that blood pressure increases under red light and decreases under blue light
led Gerard to suggest that psycho physiological activation increases with wavelength
from blue to red. Although cautious about his ndings and insisting on the need for
further research, Gerard highlighted the possible therapeutic benets of the color blue,
and recommended it as supplementary therapy in the treatment of various conditions.
Among other suggestions, Gerard pointed to the possible uses of blue as a tranquilizer
and relaxant in anxious individuals, and as a way of reducing blood pressure in the
treatment of hypertension (hp://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Robert_Gerard).
Dr. Harry Wohlfarth also showed that certain colors have measurable and
predictable eects on the autonomic nervous system of people. In numerous studies,
he found that blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rates increase most under
yellow light, moderately under orange, and minimally under red, while decreasing
most under black, moderately under blue, and minimally under green (hp://www.
instantheadacherelief.com/lighting. html). Subsequent research on plants and animals
conducted by the photo biologist Dr. John O demonstrated the eects of color on
growth and development. Plants grown under red glass were found to shoot up four
times quicker than those grown in ordinary sunlight, and to grow much more slowly
under green glass. However, although red light initially over stimulated plants, their
growth was subsequently stunted, whereas blue light produced slower growth initially
but taller, thicker plants later (hp://www.kaliszincolor.com/lighherapy/ A_dr_o.
html).
During the 1950s, studies suggested that neonatal jaundice, a potentially fatal
condition found in two-thirds of premature babies, could be successfully treated by
exposure to sunlight. This was conrmed in the 1960s, and white light replaced the
high-risk blood transfusions in the treatment of this condition. Blue light was later
found to be more eective and less hazardous than full-spectrum (the most common
form of treatment for neonatal jaundice). Bright white full-spectrum light is also now
being used in the treatment of cancers, SAD (seasonal aective disorder — so called
“winter depression”), anorexia, bulimia nervosa, insomnia, jet lag, shi-working,
alcohol and drug dependency, and to reduce overall levels of medication.
The blue light found to be successful in the treatment of neonatal jaundice has also
been shown to be eective in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In studies by S. F.
99
McDonald, most of those exposed to blue light for variable periods up to een minutes
experienced a signicant degree of pain relief. It was concluded that the pain reduction
was directly related both to the blue light and the length of exposure to it. Blue light
is also used in healing injured tissue and preventing scar tissue, in the treatment of
cancers and nonmalignant tumors, as well as skin and lung conditions (hp://home.
comcast.net/—smcdonald 9l/tableof.html).
In 1990, scientists reported to the annual conference of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science on the successful use of blue light in the treatment
of a wide variety of psychological problems, including addictions, eating disorders,
impotence, and depression. At the other end of the color spectrum, red light has
been shown to be eective in the treatment of migraine headaches and cancer. As a
result, color is becoming widely accepted as a therapeutic tool with various medical
applications.
A new technique, which has been developed over the past two decades as a result
of pioneering research, is photodynamic therapy, or PDT. This is based on the discovery
that certain intravenously injected photosensitive chemicals not only accumulate
in cancer cells but selectively identify these cells under ultraviolet light. These
photosensitive chemicals then exclusively destroy the cancer cells when activated by
red light, whose longer wavelength allows it to penetrate tissue more deeply than other
colors. PDT can be used for both diagnosis and treatment. Dr. Thomas Dougherty, who
developed PDT, reports that in a worldwide experiment more than 3000 people, with
a wide variety of malignant tumors, have been successfully treated with this technique
(hp://www.tarleton.edu/—dougherty).
Color is also used therapeutically in a variety of non-medical seings. In some
cases, its eects have been quite accidental as in a report by the governor of a prison in
which each of its four wings had been painted a dierent color. Both he and his sta
found that the behavior of the prisoners varied signicantly depending on which wing
they lived in, although their allocation to each had been random. Those in red and
yellow wings were more inclined to violence than those in the blue and green wings.
Experimental research lends support to these observations. Viewing red light has
been found to increase subjects’ strength by 13.5 percent and to elicit 5.8 percent more
electrical activity in the arm muscles. For this reason it is now used to improve the
performance of athletes. Red light appears to help athletes who need short, quick bursts
of energy, while blue light assists in performances requiring a more steady energy
output. By comparison, pink has been found to have a tranquilizing and calming eect
within minutes of exposure. It suppresses hostile, aggressive, and anxious behavior
among women in Western culture. Pink holding cells are now widely used to reduce
violent and aggressive behavior among prisoners, and some sources have reported a
reduction of muscle strength in inmates within 2.7 seconds. It appears that when in
pink surroundings people cannot be aggressive even if they want to, because the color
saps their energy (hp://www.kaliszincolor.com/ligth-therapy/A_dr_o. html).
The cited theories, researches, and information, provide evidence to support the
claim that color therapy can change a person’s mental, physiological, and emotional
health; hence, color therapy is helpful to those who are stressed, especially the
students.
The independent variable of the study is the color therapy, which assumed
that color inuences the level of stress experienced by the subjects of the study. The
dependent variable is the level of stress, the factor to be inuenced by color therapy.
The Role of Colors in Stress Reduction L.C. Lubos
100
Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
OBJECTIVES OF ThE STUDY
The study pursued the following objectives: (1) to compare the level of stress
experienced by the students exposed to blue and pink color therapy; (2) to compare
the level of stress of the students before and aer exposure to color therapy; and (3) to
compare the level of stress between the treatment and control groups.
METhODOLOGY
Two groups of Nursing students from Liceo de Cagayan University were studied.
The rst group was a control group, which was not subjected to color therapy; and the
second group was the experimental group, which was subjected to the therapy. The
students were from the 7AM-3PM shi. The two groups were given a pretest aer
hospital duty. The pretest was followed by a color (blue and pink) therapy. Aer the
therapy, the two groups answered the same questionnaire as post test.
The questionnaire, adapted from Rebato (2004), was composed of 24 questions.
Each respondent was asked to check the appropriate box in each question. The choices
were (3) VM- very much, (2) M- moderately, (1) S- slightly, and (0) NO- no. Table 1
shows the scoring ranges and their equivalent description.
Table 1. Specic indicators for the levels of stress
The subjects of the study were the 20 third-year Nursing students of Liceo de
Cagayan University during school year 2006-2007. The researcher made sure that the
students did not wear eyeglasses to ensure that they did not have any eye problem.
Aer hospital duty, the respondents were asked to answer the questionnaire (pretest)
to determine the level of stress aer their clinical duty.
Blue and pink were used as therapy. The two colors are considered to have calming
and soothing eect. Each color treatment was done in separate days. Aer the pretest,
the subjects were then taken to the treatment room. Prior to the treatment, instructions
were given to the subjects. They were told to breathe deeply and to stay relax as they
look at the colored wall in the room. They were not allowed to talk to each other but
rather to sit down and just look at the colored wall. The respondents were not allowed
to sleep either. The color therapy was conducted for 20 minutes. As to the control group,
color therapy was not conducted.
Aer the color therapy, the respondents were asked to answer the same
questionnaire as posest. The posest was given to determine the eect of color therapy
on the respondents. The control group was also given the posest for comparison. For
data comparison, the T-test was used.
101
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Table 2. Test of dierence in the level of stress aer pink and blue color therapy
The results of the study reveal that there was a slight dierence in the level of
stress experienced by the students aer exposure to blue (1.3832 and pink 1.6042) color
therapy. According to Avicenna (980 AD) in his Canon of Medicine, color has its vital
importance. He used color treatment insisting that red moved the blood, blue or white
cooled it, and yellow reduced pain and inammation. Although both the blue and pink
colors are known to have its soothing eects, the levels in which they can reduce stream
signicantly vary. Babbit emphasized that red is a stimulant while blue is soothing
to all systems. Since pink is a combination of red and white, then blue has a stronger
soothing eect than the color pink. Although this is so, pink still reduces the level of
stress.
Table 3. Test of dierence in the level of stress aer exposure to pink color therapy
Table 3 shows that aer the pink color therapy, there was a decrease in the level
of stress. The decrease was signicant as revealed by the test of dierence (t-value of
38.26> critical value of 1.729). As found out in an experiment, when people are in pink
surroundings, they cannot be aggressive even if they want to because the color saps
their energy. Pink has been found to have a tranquilizing and calming eect within
minutes of exposure. It suppresses hostile, aggressive, and anxious behavior. When a
person is stressed, there is the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, which
would cause the blood pressure and heart rate to increase.
Table 4. Test of dierence in the level of stress aer exposure to blue color therapy
The Role of Colors in Stress Reduction L.C. Lubos
102
Liceo Journal of Higher Education Research
Table 4 shows that the blue was a signicant reduction of the level of stress aer
exposure to blue color therapy. According to Robert Gerard (1958), blue generates the
feelings of tranquility and well-being and has a calming eect. He emphasized that
blue stimulates the parasympathetic part of the human’s autonomic nervous system.
The exposure to blue diminished stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, thus
making the respondents more calm and relaxed.
Table 5. Test of dierence in the level of stress between the treatment and control groups
Table 5 shows that the group exposed to color therapy had a more reduced level of
stress (3.1294) than the group without color therapy (1.3882).
When the students were stressed, the exposure to color therapy aided the reduction
of their stress level. According to Rudolph Steiner work, certain combinations of color
and shape have either destructive or generative eects on living organisms. In this
study, the color therapy possessed to have generative eect on the subjects.
CONCLUSION
Clinical duty is a stressful experience for Nursing students. However, students
reduced their stress signicantly aer exposure to color therapy. Both blue and pink are
soothing colors. Blue has stronger eect on reducing stress.
ACkNOwLEDGEMENTS
The author wishes to thank the Liceo de Cagayan University Nursing
Department, especially to Ms. Elizabeth V. Mangalao, Ms. AizaLei C. Moreno,
Ms. Rosalie A. Sy, Ms. Rochelle E. Tabalbag, and Ms. Mae Violet A. Vedra for their
contribution during the course of the study.
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The Role of Colors in Stress Reduction L.C. Lubos
... The current body of research suggests that exposure to color causes multiple physiological responses 9 and indeed; influences performance. [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17] Whether this influence is through arousal level, 18,19 endocrinal changes such as hormones and circadian rhythm 20 or a calming effect to the parasympathetic nervous system; lowering heart rate and blood pressure 9,21,22 the fact that it harbours any influence on performance warrants attention. Added to this the fact that color is a cheap variable to manipulate (e.g., through the use of contact lenses, colored lens glasses, etc.) makes it appealing to both elite athlete and weekend warrior further substantiates the argument that consideration should be given towards its influence on performance. ...
... 23 Underpinning theory suggests that short wavelength colors such as blue and green have a calming effect, reducing blood pressure and rate of respiration, and affecting the parasympathetic nervous system; lowering heart rate and breathing rate. 9,21,22 In addition research has associated the color blue with higher oxygen saturation, measured by pulse oximetry, 24 as well as feelings of comfort, strength and happiness. [25][26][27] In contrast, red and orange can be identified as long wavelength colors, which are suggested to increase arousal level and excitement, 17,18,20,26 including higher systolic blood pressure, 9 ...
... pressure and rate of respiration, increasing oxygen saturation and affecting the parasympathetic nervous system by lowering heart rate. 9,21,22 However, these physiological measures were not considered within the present study and as such caution should be taken by this inference and hypothesis. ...
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Excellence in now's day extremely competitive academic loads more than a thorough knowledge of particular Area. Students are a crucial age because young public are facing various changes in life cycle. They should enhance their capability to achieve stress in demand to alive a healthy life after incoming the public. Students not only necessity to adapt to a new life cycle and new environment, on the other hand also required to be at home with many new people, things and events. Their life cycle is very stressful. It is significant to understand the sources of stress and how to deal with them. Depression, stress, anxiety generally came from educational tests, relationship difficulties, interpersonal relationships, life ups and downs, studies, peer , teachers, parent's pressure and occupation exploration. This stress can often cause psychological, behavioral problems and physical. Appropriate events should be taken to help make the right decision, affect their future. Reducing anxiety and timing and leisure activities may be an effective strategy Decrease the learning pressure of college students. With the help of this study we learn more about colors and how they touch our feeling to styling improved. Using some right color of different spaces and person can also help to reduce stress and depression.
Level of stress management among nurses in selected hospital in
  • A Alcober
Alcober, A. (2005). Level of stress management among nurses in selected hospital in Cagayan de Oro City Philippines: Liceo de Cagayan University Publisher Inc.,.
Common stressors encountered by single-parent students enrolled in
  • J L Balabag
Balabag, J. L. (2006). Common stressors encountered by single-parent students enrolled in NcM501202 of Liceo de Cagayan University. Philippines: Liceo de Cagayan University Publisher inc.,.
The merck manual of medical information home edition USA: Merck Research Laboratories
  • R Berkow
Berkow, R..(1997).The merck manual of medical information home edition USA: Merck Research Laboratories,.
Coping mechanisms against physical and emotional stresses experienced by selected students of Liceo de Cagayan University Philippines
  • L A Bordador
Bordador, L.A. ( March 2005). Coping mechanisms against physical and emotional stresses experienced by selected students of Liceo de Cagayan University Philippines: LDCU Publisher Inc.,.
Stress handling techniques among selected nursing students of Liceo de Cagayan University
  • M T Brana
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