This article was originally published on PH Online Dec 2008 Issue 153 -

As a colour counsellor and lifelong outdoor pursuit’s enthusiast, I read with interest the recent news that doctors were prescribing a walk in the park for depression. The idea that outdoor exercise is good for depression has been around for a long time but has only recently been confirmed by research. This prescription has become known as ‘ecotherapy’ and looks set to be the next growth industry; it is a combination of ecopsychology, which is about the influence of nature upon humans combined with psychotherapy. However, this is only one explanation as to why this prescription is so good for our psychological well-being, colour or light therapy is another.

Having spent sixteen years in social work working with young people I have come across many psychological and sociological theories, therapies, solutions and treatments for the way in which people behave or for personal problem solving. Some of them work for a while after which either people slip back into the same routine, or natural maturational processes take place which means they simply grow out of the undesirable behaviour. I concluded that there no immediate solutions or answers to most problems, in which case the question is how can I manage the situation while maturational and healing processes takes place; I believe this was and still is the answer to most situations and does the minimum amount of damage to the client.

The problem with any therapy or exercise regime is that people start with good intentions and simply give up because they lack the motivation. Unless people can afford a life coach to help them stay motivated, it often leads to reinforcement or worsening of the very problem or behaviour they are trying to change, diets being a classic example. As with most people after a while I also give up, however, I have found the answer is to build exercise into an active lifestyle.

What I like about colour therapy is that all I have to do is wear it, eat it, or just look at it to maintain a sense of balance and well-being. In that respect I will explain why a walk in the park and the colours of nature are beneficial to our well-being, and include some advice on the colours to wear, and some music for your ipod. Colour vibrates at the same frequencies as musical keynotes so you can also listen to the music for a similar effect as actually seeing the colour.

Like most people, I find exercise for the sake of it boring and an effort, however, I do it because I enjoy walking over mountains and canoe surfing both of which demand a high degree of fitness before you start. Therefore, I suggest the answer to this problem is finding some kind of lifestyle pastime or activity that indirectly motivates you to stay fit. In that respect why pay to go to a gym or buy an exercise machine when you have a road outside your front door. For upper body exercise use a pair of walking sticks, the cheaper and heavier the better, they not only take the strain off your knees but also tone the stomach and help you walk faster especially uphill.

The most important thing about a walk in the park is simply being there under natural sunlight, which we need to maintain our circadian rhythm or what is commonly known as our body clock. This regulates our melatonin and serotonin levels, which in turn helps with our sleep cycles so we only feeling sleepy at night and not during the day. This is particularly import during the winter months for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Although you can get UV conducting glass, generally window glass blocks UV light so even if you work near a window, you also need sunlight to regulate your body clock. For the same reasons, do not wear sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses as they have the same effect, if you must shade your eyes, use charcoal grey non-polarized lenses to let in some UV light, and always protect yourself from sunburn.

To start with, you may need the energy and motivation to get out of the house as depression or stress can be quite debilitating, but any form of exercise will boost the metabolism. I find red energy useful to fire myself up before I go canoe surfing in the middle of winter; to start with, I play some rock music, which is generally in the keynote of C with a heavy bass sound that will cause metal furniture to vibrate. I also use red solarised water, which is water in a red coloured bottle that has been in the sun all day. The vibrations from the colour will permeate the water so it will vibrate at the same frequency; I drink this just before I go into the sea to boost my circulation which is a sensation that I can actually feel happening, it provides a bit of Dutch courage before I hit the surf.

Apart from the benefits of exercise walking obviously increases the circulation, the resulting increase in the blood flow through the brain can help with the mental processes and problem solving issues. Wearing a yellow shirt can help with the this process and bring creative solutions to the situation that you are trying to resolve. The use of the colour indigo can help you get in touch with your intuition and see past the presenting problems to gain a greater insight to the resolution of the pressures in your life. I wear a yellow shirt and an indigo tracksuit for this purpose and tend to stick to paths or roads for a constant walking speed without any other distraction while I think things over.

Blue is the most popular colour among adults and a blue sky is psychologically calming, nurturing and healing. Blue creates a feeling of deep inner peace, and brings out the nurturing mother or benevolent father aspects of our personality; it can also help in situations where diplomacy or negotiation skills are required especially when dealing with authority. Blue is the colour of healing that helps with grief and leaving the past behind; like dealing with a sense of loss it helps with addictions that are either psychological or the usual tobacco, alcohol or drugs etc. If the sky is overcast then the lack of blue can be compensated for by wearing blue jeans or some other blue clothing, it will have the effect of boosting your need for blue within the sunlight colour spectrum. You can also wear something yellow which combined with blue makes up white light and can give you a bit of a psychological boost to deal with SAD during the dark days of winter.

Green is the colour associated with the ecology or environment; with regard to colour therapy it is particularly beneficial for the parasympathetic nervous system and good for the heart both physically and emotionally. It can lower blood pressure and help us deal with heartache as it provides a physical comfort and feeling of safety, this is why first aid kits are now green instead of red. Getting out into open green landscape will help satisfy your need for feeling of personal space and create a distance between you and the pressures you are under. It will help you take a step back and see all sides to the issues that you are facing. It will help bring harmony to difficult relationships allowing people to listen to the viewpoint of others and find a solution by mutual agreement. However, green is also about ‘me’ and the need to improve oneself with regard to physical and psychological well-being, a better job, living conditions etc. Therefore, green is a good colour to use in association with self-help therapies.

The place to be for a blue green mixture or turquoise is by the sea, it is the master healer combining the properties of both colours. It will spark youthful imaginative ideas to most situations, and will help you deal with difficult and demanding events so you can excuse the pun, take things in your stride.

To maintain our well-being we must maintain a sense of balance as too much of any one colour can have a detrimental effect. I have previously mention red with regard to energy and motivation, it is also a colour that will create a balance with both blue and green. Blue is an electric or cool colour that relates to the mind, it is introverted and can have a depressive effect on our emotions hence the expression of having the blues. Red is warm earth colour that is outgoing, and friendly. It balances the depressive tendencies of blue to bring us out of ourselves and keep us grounded and in touch with reality when we find things hard to believe or fear we are losing it. Red is the complementary colour to green so will balance and therefore reinforce the benefit we get from being in green open spaces; I sometimes wear a red anorak for this purpose.

Nature provides us with different colours throughout the seasons, although green grass is constant throughout the year. Autumn is a time of the year whereby deciduous trees shed their leaves to prepare for winter and perennial plants die off ready to grow again next spring. Look for the orange colour amongst the leaves and plants as orange is a purgative that will help you clear blockages both physical and mental. So use it get rid of all the unwanted baggage inside you head that is holding you back, then you will be ready for the light green shoots of spring bringing new opportunities into your life. Nothing gives me a greater lift than seeing the first wild daffodils in spring the yellow of the flowers a big psychological boost after the gloomy days of winter.

Many people listen to an ipod while out walking and as I previously mentioned the frequency of colours correspond to musical keynotes. This can boost the therapeutic effect of the colours we need and the lyrics can provide us with a motivational affirmation. The problem is that we need a spectrum analyser to know what the keynotes are in the music or songs, so here are some examples to use as a general guide.

The ultimate music to accompany a walk in the park is Beethoven’s Symphony No 6 in F ‘Pastoral’. As the name suggests it is predominately-green music for the countryside and the keynote F is the same frequency as the colour green. The symphony contains the popular Shepherd’s Hymn but the first movement contains a variety of keynotes to fit in with the title. Awakening of pleasant feelings upon arriving in the countryside and includes the following keys.

* B = Violet – for spiritual inspiration.
* D = Orange - to remove mental blockages.
* G = Blue - mentally calming and healing.
* E = Yellow - for grounding and helps you think things over.
* A = Indigo - helps you use your own intuition.
* F = Green - for personal space, calm and balance during a crises.

You can look for other popular classics in the keynote of F for green. If you want some blue music, try Elgar’s Nimrod or Mozart’s EineKliene Nacht Music, which is in the key of G. The useful thing about classical music is that you can see what keynote is from the cover.

For those who like popular music Simon & Garfunkel or any folk music with an acoustic guitar is predominately F for green; most love songs are also in this keynote. One way of finding out is to hold a piece of glossy paper from a magazine in front of a speaker, if it vibrates then it is approximately in the keynote of F. Using the above as a guide, select the music you need for your ipod to help you solve your situation before you go walking.

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Author's Bio: 

Trevor Mayes is proprietor of Colour Counselling Therapy Healing and works online at and Born in 1951, he has been an outdoor pursuit's instructor, senior social worker, children's home manager, and market gardener. He is now a practising colour therapist with five years experience, and regulated by his membership of the International Wheel of Colour.

He has a Diploma in Colour Therapy from the Iris International School of Colour Therapy, a Certificate in Community & Youth Work from The University of London Goldsmiths College 1974-1976 and a Diploma in Community Education from De Montfort University 1980-1982.

His interests include the psychological, scientific, medical, and therapeutic use of colour, anything to do with spirituality and the metaphysical, including shamanism and the runes. He is an audiophile who appreciates the quality reproduction of music as a means of healing. He lives in west Wales, which gives him access to the mountains and coastal footpaths; canoe surfing is a passion that keeps body and soul together.