I just started stitching a bright summer pattern and realized that, aside from the calm feeling of contentment I usually get from cross stitching, I was getting an extra boost from the brilliant colors I was using. Really? I thought. Am I really feeling happier because I’m looking at joyful colors? It turns out science says yes. And further, it is partially the autonomic nervous system (the malfunctioning bane of my existence) that creates this emotional boost.

Several studies have shown that color affects the autonomic nervous system, whether it’s through light or even the color of a tablecloth. (In this one, all colors except red had a tension-reducing effect.) Science has proven that color affects brain waves, the nervous system, and hormonal activity, all of which in turn impact our emotions.

I guess artists and designers have always known this, and really, I knew it too, but it never occurred to me that color was something I could use to try to regulate my faulty autonomic nervous system. So bring on all the colorful fabrics and threads!

Do colors make you emotional? Tell me in the comments.