According to brain research, there are simple things you can do to create a calming, stress-relieving environment for you, your family, and even students in a classroom.
If the brain were meant to be calm in nature, wouldn’t it make sense that the colors of nature would be the most calming for the brain? On a crystal clear day, look up. The sky will be blue. Look down, the grass will be green and the earth brown. Therefore, the calming colors for the brain are blues, greens, earth tones, and pastels. High-energy colors include reds, oranges, and deep yellows. Just look at the leaves changing in the fall or the colors associated with most fast-food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King, or Kentucky Fried Chicken. These are energetic places with a great deal of activity. If you want your baby to get a peaceful night’s sleep, you may not want to paint the nursery bright red.
Music with beats of approximately 50 to 70 per minute are considered calming types of music. Examples of these include some classical pieces, particularly from the Baroque period; new age (Enya or Yani); smooth jazz; slow Celtic (Irish) music; Native American music; or nature sounds. High-energy music would encompass salsa music, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, or fast-paced country. (By the way, do you know what you get if you play a country song backward? Give up?! You get your dog back, your wife back, your house back, your alimony payments stop, you sober up, and you get out of jail. 😉 Just a little humor which is also good for your brain and body!)
The worst possible light for the brain appears to be fluorescent lighting which gives off a number of beats that can produce cortisol, a stress hormone. This type of lighting can make hyperactive children more so, cause epileptic seizures, and increase the severity of migraine headaches. Why, then, are new schools still being built with fluorescent lights? It is also the cheapest form of light. The best light would be natural. There are cultures in the world that experience six months of light and six months of darkness. During the six months of darkness, the incidences of alcoholism, depression, and suicide increase. Soon doctors may have to start prescribing more doses of Vitamin D since children are not playing outdoors in the sun as often as they used to.
Our sense of smell is the sense most closely tied to memory. Lavender, vanilla, and sandalwood are some of the more calming fragrances for the brain. Peppermint, citrus (particularly lemon and orange), and cinnamon all tend to put the brain in a more energetic state.
There are simple ways you can alter your environment to surround yourself with more calm and less stress. Almost 15 years ago, my husband and I built a house with earth-tone colored walls, lots of windows and no fluorescent lights. My husband loves to listen to smooth jazz when he wants to relax, and I may be seen listening to classical or piano music. We both love the energizing sounds of rock and roll or rhythm and blues. I also have serious aromatherapy plug-ins where relaxing smells permeate the air.
However, there is one thing I must warn you about. The worst part of having a brain-compatible home? When people come to visit you, it is difficult to get them to leave! 🙂