Mental Health Awareness UK, navigating grief through colour

mental health navigating grief through colour karen haller

As this is mental health awareness week here in the UK, I wanted to focus on something we all experience at sometime in our life, which is grief.

Grief really hit me hard when my father was ill and passed away. I felt the grief even before he passed.

I’ve realised that I also felt deep grief with the loss of friendships, relationships and the loss of a job which at the time meant a lot to me. It can happen with any traumatic event we experience. Grief is a part of life. It’s something I’m processing now too, as I see my mother slowly coming to the end of her life.

Recently I saw a video on Instagram by UK clinical psychologist Dr Julie Smith on grieving and I wanted to share it with you because I love how she demonstrates the process of grieving through the use of colour.  

She starts the video by saying if you’ve ever lost someone, you’ve probably asked yourself will the pain of this grief ever really go away?

In the video she uses a black painted circle to represent grief. Black in this context is a great colour to use as represents the dark, heavy abyss we can often find ourselves in.

There is an old saying that time heals all wounds. It certainly has been my experience that my grief has lessened over time. But Dr Stevens suggests that grief never fully disappears.

The perspective she offered instead, is that overtime we can to begin to engage with our new reality and build new experiences around our grief.

What I love is that she demonstrates this visually through the use of colour, “wrapping that black circle of grief” in more joyful, brighter colours.

Although we still might experience moments of deep pain and sorrow, Dr Stevens says there will also be moments of new joy, love and purpose as these new layers of our life build around our grief. It’s like our life grows around the pain so that even though it’s still there you can still create a life that is beautiful and meaningful to you.

For me, I miss my father more as each year passes and I wish he was still here but the pain of his passing definitely lessened as I have encircled it with lots of joyful, colourful life experiences.

What I took away from Dr Stevens video was that we can live with and move beyond grief through building new colourful memories into our life experience.

And that’s how I use colour on a daily basis. I find colour to support how I’m feeling or how I want to feel.

How we can use colour psychology to support good mental health in our everyday life

Below I’ve shared a few colours and some of their positive psychological traits and how they can support you from the soft, gentle soothing colours to the bold, bright and vibrant, so that you can use colour to support you and your mental health.

Dark Green aids to create balance and harmony, providing a sense of reassurance and peace.

Yellow so that even on the greyest of days it’s like taking the sunshine with you.

Orange can bring a touch of playful fun to any occasion.

 Red can help with motivation and feeling physically energised.

Soft pink is like wrapping yourself in a snuggly, warm embrace.

Purple to support you when you want to take time out for reflection.

We all experience grief in different ways and at different levels depending where we are in our process, so wherever you are I hope this helps you today.  

If you would like to find out more about which colours can support you in the way you need, check out my book, The Little Book of Colour.

If you would like to watch the video, head over here where you can also check out more of Dr Julie’s insights.

If you would like to find out more about Dr Julie, her book and free resources, head over here.

Wishing you a colourful day,

Image: Dr Julie’s Instagram post

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