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Best Paint Colors for Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Maximize your best moods with our eight uplifting paint picks.

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Woman choosing paint colorsGiulio Fornasar/Getty Images

Paint Color and Mood

We often describe our mood in color terms: “the blues,” “seeing red,” or “tickled pink.” But does color actually affect mood? A growing body of research by environmental psychologists suggests the answer is yes, as findings show color can have a physiological effect on the body and mind.

Interior designers have long used color to strike mood effect in homes, restaurants and retail stores. Take it from designer Celerie Kemble: “There’s a reason we don’t see the world in black and white.” So let’s improve your outlook while you stay home by surrounding you with colors that uplift, relax and soothe.

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Pinky Beige, Sherwin-Williams

Pinky Beige is less millennial pink and more sophisticated sand. Pink but grounded by earthy brown-based tones, it’s still on trend, just a shift from the brighter, bolder pinks.

Upside: Tones like this flatter just about everyone — great for Zoom meetings! Want to transport yourself away from your daily schedule of conference calls? Imagine sinking into soft, warm sand on Harbour Island in the Bahamas or another peaceful beach.

Ways to use the hue: This one is primed for use in upholstery fabric, a neutral rug, or painted wood shelving for a pop against white walls.

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Prince, Clare

This one might come as a surprise, but consider enveloping yourself in a luxe, sophisticated, cozy purple, such as Clare’s Prince. Long considered the purview of royalty, wisdom, creativity and truth, deep purple conveys the kind of peace that comes with hard-won confidence. Plus, Clare is one of the best places to buy paint online.

Ways to use the hue: Cozy up to a deep purple chenille throw blanket, patterned drawer liners, velvet drapes or pottery pieces.

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Roycroft Bottle Green, Sherwin-Williams

There’s a whole area of psychology dedicated to “restorative environments” — that’s where you heard about the concept of forest bathing. It’s part of why a walk in the woods can lift your mood if you’re feeling anxious or depressed. It might also help explain the rise of green in interior design. Roycroft Bottle Green is sedate, but saturated — deep woods, without too much muddy brown.

Ways to use the hue: If you’re not ready to commit to green on your walls, bring in plants! While there is some debate on the subject, houseplants have been linked to improved air quality. They add color, texture, visual interest and, in some cases, scent. It can also be therapeutic to tend to and nurture something that’s alive but doesn’t have many demands, including ZZ plants, burgundy rubber trees, monsteras or prayer plants.

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Crisp Linen, Benjamin Moore

Some studies suggest that clearing visual clutter can help reduce anxiety and depression. While that can often mean you have too much stuff or need to tidy up, visual clutter can also correlate to design. Clear your canvas with a lovely off-white. Whites with a yellow undertone, such as Crisp Linen, feel creamy and soft, unlike cool whites, which can feel stark, sterile or clinical. Think of laundry drying on a line in the sun.

Ways to use the hue: If it’s not for your walls, consider swapping out patterned bedding and bright towels and shower curtains.

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Weekend, Magnolia Home

Widely accepted by many design pros as the most calming color — and certainly a fan favorite — this particular color suggests the expansiveness and calming shhhh of ocean waves. Just the name alone — Weekend — suggests a feeling of freedom and relaxation. If this feels too bold, consider Benjamin Moore’s color of 2021 — Aegean Teal, which is more muted with undertones of green and gray.

Ways to use the hue: An area or throw rug could provide some color on the ground level. It’s easy to find, frame and hang beautiful nature photography featuring deeply hued blues.

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Sulking Room Pink, Farrow & Ball

One famous study, conducted by Alexander Schauss, showed the color that reduced aggression the most was not blue, but … pink. While his famous “drunk-tank pink,” reminiscent of Pepto Bismol, may be out of favor right now except for mid-century bathrooms, pink has been hot for years. Farrow & Ball’s Sulking Room Pink is soothing, muted and can almost act as a neutral. That allows for various complimentary palettes and design styles.

Ways to use the hue: These days, it’s easy to find just about anything in this muted, rosy pink. Include it in your decor without much commitment by incorporating fuzzy faux sheepskin, knitted poufs for sitting or balancing a snack tray, Lucite accessories or textiles.

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Dutch Orange, Farrow & Ball

Now, for a wild card: Yellow draws people to its bright, sunny optimism, and yellow and orange have been shown to brighten moods. Dutch Orange offers up a citrus twist. It infuses a sense of brightness and connection to nature, as it mirrors the color of marigolds, a trending color in interiors. This color can make you feel like you are melting away stress under a warm sun.

Ways to use the hue: Find vintage dishes or bowls in this color and put them on your open shelves in the kitchen. Stack some orange-covered coffee-table books or — you guessed it — throw pillows.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.