Spring into action

Spring is on its way! It might still feel a little chilly, but those spring colors are sprouting everywhere. What is it about bright spring colors that make us feel cheery and want to clean out our houses? Let’s not dwell too much on the why, and jump right in to how to use this energy to welcome spring and kick those winter blues away.

First, we need some color.

Different colors have been associated with different emotions. You probably heard of jealousy being green, or yellow being happy. Winter tends to have a grey and hazy overtone that casts looming depression shadows. Most winter fashion features deep, dark colors. In a study, Wexner (1954) had subjects match “mood tones,” which were one to four emotion words to one of eight colors, and uncovered the feelings of “despondent, dejected, unhappy and melancholy” were matched with black (28%) and brown (28%), “followed by purple (12%) and blue (12%).” These findings “aligned” with Gilbert et al’s findings of these colors being associated with “sleepy, sad, bored, and tired” (Gilbert et al 2016). Wexner’s “excited, stimulating” mood tone mainly matched with red (64%), where “cheerful, jovial, joyful,” were matched with yellow (43%), followed by red (21%) and then orange (15%) (Gilbert et al 2016).

So why not introduce those cheery spring colors into your home? It is best to start with some neutrals, and add pops of color, so as not to overwhelm a room. Too much color or contrasting colors can interfere with the flow of a room. You want the colors to be harmonious with one another.

In addition, it is important to consider how much color or what color combinations you are wearing either in your outfit or in your makeup. Matching the color combinations will not only make you look more put together, but it can really brighten an outfit (Westmore 2007).

Next, we need to declutter.

Too much mess makes our minds race and think about how to move around the objects in our way or stress about where to put them. Parker-Pope from The New York Times wrote, “Getting organized is unquestionably good for both the mind and body – reducing risks for falls, helping eliminate germs and making it easier to find things like medicine and exercise gear.” She also pointed out through research that “the spectrum from cleanliness to messiness includes large numbers of people who are chronically disorganized and suffering either emotionally, physically, or socially.”

The key to tackle the insurmountable task of organized an entire house is to “group, sort, set priorities, and discard” (Parker-Pope (2008). The article also mentions people who are more organized tend to lose the weight they wanted and are generally more healthy overall.

I personally love to take this time of year to go through my closets first. What haven’t I been wearing? What’s too worn or so out of style? Donating clothes also has a way of making you feel good as well. Then, after all my clothes, shoes, and accessories are sorted, I’ll think about the other objects around the house I may not want, or are out of season and can be stored elsewhere for next winter. For example, I have a lot of Christmas, wintery decorations, so all these can be put somewhere else. Now my room feels less confined, and more spacious. It is best to take this last task room by room, so as not to overwhelm yourself.

So throw out that old tube of lipstick, and let’s start fresh.

Lastly, how about some nature?

It has been shown that humans are oftentimes more relaxed when surrounded by natural elements. Joye (2007) discusses the importance of natural structures in architecture through examples of environmental psychology, stating humans have innate characteristics that determine whether or not they feel “safe” in a space. This natural instincts are attributed to survival modes. People need a space to “restore” their bodies after being put into “fight or flight” mode, which can be accomplished. A much cited study by Ulrich involved hospital patients recovering from surgery. Some participants faced a window with trees in views, and others only had a brick wall to look at. The people who had the view of the trees “had shorter hospital stays, received fewer negative comments from nurses, required less moderate and strong analgesics, and had slightly fewer postoperative complications (Joye 2007).

So what does all this mean?

Try to introduce some natural features into your home. A study has suggested the presence of water features helps calm the mind and body (Joye 2007), just remember to be environmentally conscious when thinking or installing these features. For example, having a floating candles tray on the table is a better option than a constantly running fountain that doesn’t recycle its own water.

If you can, try to introduce some plants into your home as well. It doesn’t necessarily have to be spring flowers either; it could be cacti or succulents, or other types of green plants. If you have allergies or pets, you can always use fake foliage to decorate your home. Another idea would be to hang up some landscape paintings or art. These natural features will help your mind and body feel peaceful.

I personally love taking down the heavy, winter curtains and exchanging them with a lighter material to let more sunlight in. Nice, bright, white light really opens a space up. Changing lightbulbs to more energy efficient white light bulbs could also save energy costs and make your home shine.

Spring has the stereotype of being the rebirth after a cold, harsh winter. Take advantage of these emotions to really put some positive changes in your home, in your closet, and in your spirit.

What to you do after a long winter to help refocus your energy?

*Sources cited:

Giblert, et al. “The color of emotion: A metric for implicit color associations.” Elsevier. 203-210. 2016.
Joye, Yannick. “Architectural Lessons From Environmental Psychology: The Case of Biophilic Architecture.” Review of General Psychology. 305-328. 2007.
Parker-Pope, Tara. “A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves. The New York Times. 2008.
Westmore, Marvin. “Color.” Skin Inc. 125-130. 2007

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