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The Prescribed Walk in the Park

by Trevor Mayes(more info)

listed in colour therapy, originally published in issue 153 - December 2008

As a colour counsellor and lifelong outdoor pursuit's enthusiast, I read with interest the recent news that doctors were prescribing a walk in the park for depression. The idea that outdoor exercise is good for depression has been around for a long time, but has only recently been confirmed by research. This prescription is also known as 'ecotherapy' and looks set to be the next growth industry; it is a combination of ecopsychology, which is about the influence of nature upon humans combined with psychotherapy. However, this is only one explanation as to why this prescription is so good for our psychological well-being, colour or light therapy is another.

Tree Lined Walk

Having spent 16 years in social work, working with young people, I have come across many psychological and sociological theories, therapies, solutions and treatments for the way in which people behave, or for personal problem solving. Some of them work for a while after which either people slip back into the same routine, or natural maturational processes take place which means they simply grow out of the undesirable behaviour. I concluded that there are no immediate solutions or answers to most problems, in which case the question is how can I manage the situation while maturational and healing processes takes place; I believe this was and still is the answer to most situations, and does the minimum amount of damage to the client.

The problem with any therapy or exercise regime is that people start with good intentions and simply give up because they lack the motivation. Unless people can afford a life coach to help them stay motivated, it often leads to reinforcement or worsening of the very problem or behaviour they are trying to change; diets being a classic example. As with most people, after a while I also give up; however, I have found the answer is to build exercise into a routine, as I need to keep fit in order to enjoy my active lifestyle.

What I like about colour therapy is that all I have to do is wear it, eat it, or just look at it to maintain a sense of balance and wellbeing. In that respect I will explain why a walk in the park, and the colours of nature, are beneficial to our wellbeing, and include some advice on the colours to wear, and some music for your iPod. Colour vibrates at the same frequencies as musical keynotes, so you can also listen to the music for a similar effect as actually seeing the colour.

With regard to exercise, I, like most people, find doing for the sake of it boring and an effort; however, I do it because I enjoy walking over mountains and canoe surfing, both of which demand a high degree of fitness before you start. Therefore, I suggest the answer to this problem is finding some kind of lifestyle pastime or activity that indirectly motivates you to stay fit. In that respect why pay to go to a gym, or buy an exercise machine, when you have a road outside your front door. For upper body exercise use a pair of walking sticks, the cheaper and heavier the better, as they not only take the strain off your knees but also tone the stomach, and help you walk faster, especially uphill.

The most important thing about a walk in the park is simply being there under natural sunlight, which we need to maintain our circadian rhythm or, what is commonly known as our body clock. This regulates our melatonin and serotonin levels, which in turn helps with our sleep cycles, so we only feel sleepy at night and not during the day. This is particularly important during the winter months for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Although you can get UV conducting glass, general window glass blocks UV light so even if you work under natural sunlight, you also need sunlight to regulate your body clock. For the same reasons do not wear sunglasses, glasses or contact lenses as they have the same effect. If you must shade your eyes, use charcoal grey non-polarized lenses to let in some UV light, and always protect yourself from sunburn.

Colour Vibrations

To start with, you may need the energy and motivation to get out of the house, as depression or stress can be quite debilitating, but any form of exercise will boost the metabolism. I find red energy useful to fire myself up before I go canoe surfing in the middle of winter; to start with, I play some rock music, which is generally in the keynote of C with a heavy bass sound that will cause metal furniture to vibrate. I also use red solarized water, which is water in a red coloured bottle that has been in the sun all day. The vibrations from the colour will permeate the water so it will vibrate at the same frequency; I drink this just before I go into the sea to boost my circulation, which is a sensation that I can actually feel happening, and for a bit of Dutch courage before I hit the surf.


Apart from the benefits of exercise, walking obviously increases the circulation; the resulting increase in the blood flow through the brain can help with mental processes, and problem solving issues. Wearing a yellow shirt can help with the mental processes and bring creative solutions to the situation that you are trying to resolve. The use of the colour indigo can help you get in touch with your intuition and see past the presenting problems to gain a greater insight to the resolution of the pressures in your life. I wear a yellow shirt and an indigo tracksuit for this purpose, and tend to stick to paths or roads for a constant walking speed without any other distraction while I think things over.


Blue is the most popular colour among adults, and a blue sky is psychologically calming, nurturing and healing. Blue creates a feeling of deep inner peace, and brings out the nurturing mother or benevolent father aspects of our personality; it can also help in situations where diplomacy or negotiation skills are required, especially when dealing with authority. Blue is the colour of healing that helps with grief and leaving the past behind; like dealing with a sense of loss, it helps with addictions that are either psychological or involve tobacco, alcohol or drugs, etc. If the sky is overcast then the lack of blue can be compensated for by wearing blue jeans or some other blue clothing; this will have the effect of boosting your need for blue within the sunlight colour spectrum. You can also wear something yellow which, combined with blue, makes up white light and can give you a bit of a psychological boost to deal with SAD during the dark days of winter.


Green is the colour associated with the ecology or environment, and getting out into green fields or spaces will help us deal with issues associated with this colour. Green is particularly beneficial for the parasympathetic nervous system and good for the heart, both physically and emotionally. It can lower blood pressure and help us deal with heartache, as it provides physical comfort and feeling of safety, this is why first aid kits are now green instead of red! Getting out into open green spaces will, in turn, create a feeling of personal space and a distance between us and the pressures we are under. This helps us take a step back and see all sides of the issues that we are facing. It will help bring harmony to difficult relationships, allowing people to listen to the viewpoint of others and find a solution by mutual agreement. However, green is also about 'me' and the need to improve oneself with regard to physical and psychological wellbeing, a better job, living conditions, etc. Therefore, green is a good colour to use with self-help therapies.


The place to be for a blue green mixture, or turquoise, is by the sea; it is the master healer combining the properties of both colours. It sparks youthful imaginative ideas to most situations, and will help you deal with difficult and demanding events so you can, excuse the pun, take things in your stride.

Touch of Red

To maintain our wellbeing we must maintain a sense of balance, as too much of any one colour can have a detrimental effect. I have previously mentioned that red, with regard to energy and motivation, is also a colour that creates a balance with both blue and green. Blue is an electric or cool colour that relates to the mind; it is introverted and can have a depressive effect on our emotions, hence the expression of having the blues. Red is a warm earth colour that is outgoing, and friendly. It balances the depressive tendencies of blue to bring us out of ourselves and keep us grounded and in touch with reality, when we find things hard to believe or fear we are losing it. Red is the complementary colour to green so will balance and, therefore, reinforce the benefit we get from being in green open spaces; I sometimes wear a red anorak for this purpose.

Nature's Gifts

Nature provides us with different colours throughout the seasons, although green grass is constant throughout the year. Autumn is a time of the year whereby deciduous trees shed their leaves to prepare for winter, and perennial plants die off ready to grow again next spring. Look for the orange colour amongst the leaves and plants, as orange is a purgative that will help you clear blockages, both physical and mental, so use it to get rid of all the unwanted baggage inside your head that is holding you back. Then you will be ready for the light green shoots of spring bringing new opportunities into your life. Nothing gives me a greater lift than seeing the first wild daffodils in spring; the yellow of the flowers offer a big psychological boost after the gloomy days of winter.

The first daffodils of spring
The first daffodils of spring

Colour of Music

Many people use an iPod while out walking and, as I previously mentioned, the frequency of colours correspond to musical keynotes. This can boost the therapeutic effect of the colours we need, while the lyrics provide us with a motivational affirmation. The problem is that we need a spectrum analyzer to know what the keynotes are in the music or songs, so here are some examples to use as a general guide.

The ultimate music to accompany a walk in the park is Beethoven's Symphony No 6 in F 'Pastoral. As the name suggests, it is predominately-green music for the countryside, as the keynote F is the same frequency as the colour green. The symphony contains the popular Shepherd's Hymn, but the first movement contains a variety of keynotes to fit in with the title: Awakening of pleasant feelings upon arriving in the countryside and includes the following keys:
B = Violet - for spiritual inspiration;
D = Orange - to remove mental blockages;
G = Blue - mentally calming and healing;
E = Yellow - for grounding and helps you think things over;
A = Indigo - helps you use your own intuition;
F = Green - for personal space, calm and balance during a crises.
Other popular classics in the keynote of F for green are Elgar's Nimrod and Mozart's EineKliene Nacht Music, which is in the key of G for blue. The useful thing about classical music is that from the cover you can see what the keynote is.
For those who like popular music, Simon and Garfunkel, or any folk music with an acoustic guitar, they are predominately F for green; most love songs are in this keynote. One way of finding out is to hold a piece of glossy paper from a magazine in front of a speaker, if it vibrates then it is approximately in the keynote of F. Using the above as a guide, select the music you need for your iPod to help you solve your situation before you go walking.

And finally, if you cannot get into the park then the Colours of Nature slide show at can be very relaxing while listening to the appropriate music.

Articles in Journals

Szabo A, Billett E and Turner J. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 35(5): 342-343. October 2001.

Articles Online

Olszewski David, E.E and I.E. Light and Health. Available online at


Chiazzari Suzy. The Complete Book of Colour. Element Books Limited. Shaftsbury. 1998.
Luscher Max. The Luscher Colour Test. Pocket Book Edition. New York. 1971.
Verner-Bonds Lilian. The Complete Book of Colour Healing. Godsfield Press. London. 2000.
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The Mental Health Foundation. Up and running? Exercise therapy and the treatment of mild or moderate depression in primary care. March 2005. Available online at
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Department of Health. At least five a week: Evidence on the impact of physical activity and its relationship to health. A report from the Chief Medical Officer. April 2004. Available online at


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About Trevor Mayes

Trevor Mayes is proprietor of Colour Counselling Therapy Healing and works online at Born in 1951, he has been an outdoor pursuit's instructor, senior social worker, children's home manager, and market gardener. He is now a practising colour therapist with five years experience, and regulated by his membership of the International Wheel of Colour.

He has a Diploma in Colour Therapy from the Iris International School of Colour Therapy, a Certificate in Community & Youth Work from The University of London Goldsmiths College 1974-1976 and a Diploma in Community Education from De Montfort University 1980-1982.

His interests include the psychological, scientific, medical, and therapeutic use of colour, anything to do with spirituality and the metaphysical, including shamanism and the runes. He is an audiophile who appreciates the quality reproduction of music as a means of healing. He lives in west Wales, which gives him access to the mountains and coastal footpaths; canoe surfing is a passion that keeps body and soul together. Trevor may be contacted via

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