How to Tap into the Healing Power of Color, Sound, and Art in Your Practice

Can color, sound, and art influence how people feel in healthcare settings?

Yes!

We’ve known it for years, and research has shown that color, sound, and art affect a patient’s mood and the experience of the healthcare encounter.   

But let’s take a closer look, starting with color.

Color in Healthcare

Different colors may produce different psychological responses, so we’ll limit our discussion to the most common colors.

White

Traditionally, most healthcare settings chose white for their walls. The color white implies cleanliness, which is desirable in any setting, even more so in healthcare.

But white may not be the best choice because it can make a space feel too clinical and impersonal, which runs counter to creating a comforting and safe healing environment for patients.

Pastels

Various shades of pastels are used in healthcare settings for their calming effect. The soft pastels make the office feel peaceful, friendly, and relaxing for patients.

Yellow

Yellow is a bright and cheerful color, stimulating feelings of happiness and positivity. On the flip side, too much bright yellow may overwhelm people and could increase anxiety.

Green

Overall, green is perceived as a soothing color associated with nature and healing. Depending on the shade of green, it can feel relaxing, comforting, and calming to patients.

Blue

Different shades of blue are also considered to have a calming effect in healthcare settings. Blue may signal feelings of tranquility and relaxation. It can also help decrease patients’ anxiety and tension while waiting to be seen.  

Red

Red, no matter the shade, spells energy, power, and excitement. Red has the potential to stimulate strong emotions and increase anxiety. And because of these reasons, red is generally not used in healthcare settings. 

So, could your office benefit from a facelift?

Depending on your practice, the population you work with, and your personal preferences, you may choose to change the colors used in your space.

You could update the colors in your waiting area, the hallway, or select exam rooms. But no matter your choice, updating the color/s is an inexpensive way to change the mood of your office.

And… if you don’t like the outcome, you can always repaint!

Sound in Healthcare

One thing you’ll find in many healthcare offices today is one or more Televisions varying in size and volume. Often, the channel of choice… News.

While things like TV, radio, and music may serve as a distraction and provide information to patients, they often lead to noise and underlying stress for patients while waiting to be seen.

Depending on the level of volume, the sound may disrupt and prevent people from talking with one another while in the waiting area. 

Frequently, TVs are set to a particular program and volume and cannot be changed by those in the waiting room, leaving people with no control over the sound. And it doesn’t matter if one is here because of a migraine or a flu shot.

There’s no distinction, and no allowances are being made. This can leave patients frustrated and slightly irritated by the time they see you.

So what’s the answer?

Bottomline… we all have different preferences. What is soothing to you might be entertaining to me or irritating to someone else.

Accommodating different preferences with different zones (quiet or sound) may not be something every office can or wants to do.

Providing headsets for those who want to listen to TV or radio is not an option either because of infection control issues or potential theft.  

This leaves you choosing between no sound, aka silence. Or, you could opt for soft, perhaps classical, or other music playing in the background.

The objective is always to create a positive experience for your patients; you don’t want to expose them to more stress and anxiety by having to listen to a loud TV or radio.

Ultimately, the choice of sound or no sound in your practice is yours.

Art in Healthcare

Surprised to hear it’s beneficial to have art as part of creating a relaxing environment in healthcare?

The idea of displaying art in hospitals and other healthcare settings is not new; it’s been done for hundreds of years. Displayed were mostly religious works of art that have long been moved into museums.  

Now think back to the last time you’ve been in a hospital, visiting someone. Today, most hospitals display paintings and photographs on their walls and in exam rooms, creating a more relaxing and pleasant environment for their patients.

Gone are the days of austerity… the blank and sterile hospital walls.

A study published on PubMed Central reports: ”Art contributes to creating an environment and atmosphere where patients can feel safe, socialize, maintain a connection to the world outside the hospital and support their identity. We conclude that the presence of visual art in hospitals contributes to health outcomes by improving patient satisfaction as an extended form of health care.”

And here’s an article published in The Telegraph, titled: “Art does heal: scientists say appreciating creative works can fight off disease.” In a nutshell, researchers found that both nature and art boost the immune system.

Today, art is considered an important element in wellness, and according to the US Department of Labor, Healthcare Interior Design is a viable field.  

How does it relate to you and your practice?

Along with color and sound, use paintings and photography to create an inviting environment for your patients. Create a space that makes your patients feel welcomed, special, and safe in your office.

As you may or may not know, I’ve been a photographer for many years. Photography is a great passion of mine (I’ve even been accused of being a photography nerd. Well, guilty as charged!).

I love different styles of photography, including floral, macro, and abstract, and I would love to see my work making a positive impact in healthcare.

If you’re interested in my work, you can find it at www.QuietImagery.com. (quick side note… there’s a Giveway underway; I’m giving away one of my prints.)


What are your thoughts about color, sound, and art?  We want to hear from you… Will you be making any changes in your practice soon? If you do, be sure to let us know by leaving your comment below.

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