The Psychology Behind Red and Green

By Dr. Gerard Muraida

During February and March, we will see plenty of red and green with Valentine’s Day and St Patrick’s Day on the horizon.

According to Color Psychology, red is often associated with strong emotions: love, desire and anger. It is also a sign of danger, violence, and aggression. In terms of vision, red captures attention, which is why fire engines are painted red. Red, a primary color, focuses behind the retina, which causes the lens to move forward. This produces the effect of increased attention. Red is also the international color for stop.

As Valentine’s Day approaches, cards and boxes of candy will be adorning store shelves. However, consider paying attention to the true meaning of the day, thanking someone for friendship and or love. Companionship and community are extremely important to living a fulfilled life. The book The Blue Zones Secrets to Living Longer described five areas in the world where longevity was noted to be the norm, not the exception. Studies of these locales determined that associated habits of the inhabitants included having a robust social network, including a spiritual network of friends; having a purpose in life; eating a plant-based diet; exercising; and drinking wine in moderation. The Italian Island Sardinians and the Greek Island Icarians drink one to two glasses of red wine per day.

Green is a combination of yellow and blue, symbolizing life and fertility, and relating to the heavens. Green is also the dominant color in nature It has relaxing and calming effects. Color Psychology states that green symbolizes peace and harmony. VeryWell Mind states that green is healthful, motivating, and natural. Green also connotes safety and hence gives permission to “go” at stoplights.

St. Patrick’s Day and green are associated by the fact that Ireland is known as the “Emerald Island”. The Irish flag has a green stripe representing the Catholics of Ireland. Celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States date back to the mid to late 1900s. A large influx of Irish immigrants after the Great Famine celebrated by wearing green, as well as by waving both the Irish and American flags.

As we venture into these two months, why not consider adopting some of the “Blue Zone” habits?  You may take a more active role in a social community, consider volunteering, remain active, eat more vegetables and if your health allows, drink in moderation.  Stay calm and enjoy the color changes as the browns of winter turn to the greens of spring.

As always, consult with your health care provider before embarking on a change in diet or activity.

Fun fact: Eighty percent of males are red-green colorblind. Hence, I am continually asked if something is red or green.

Happy early spring.

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