Blushing is the
reddening of the face, ears, neck and often the upper part of the chest, followed by feeling of heat and tingling.
Blushing is an unconscious, physical reaction that is caused by certain
situations, and is a perfectly normal bodily reaction. Some people believe blushing is naturally attractive as individuals
are likely to show their true emotions! However, for many people blushing can cause discomfort and distress as they worry
about when and where they may blush. The embarrassment of blushing can become so severe for those who are extremely anxious
in social situations that the sufferer avoids social contact (known as social anxiety).
The problem with blushing
For many people, blushing can be traced back to a particular event (e.g.
being put on the spot in front of a class full of people) and this can lead to a vicious circle of being embrrassed about
the blushing and anticipating it happening again. Becoming tense in similar situations and worrying about blushing often makes
it more likely that it will happen again. This is because our brain automates patterns of thinking, and for individuals who
blush excessively, their brain has often automated worrying about blushing.
Trying not wo worry about blushing also doesn't help the situation as our brains can't
not think about something we're trying not to think about. For example if you tell yourself not to think of a white rabbit,
we immediately picture a white rabbit in our mind! So if we tell ourselves not to worry about blushing, we immediately think
about blushing. Again, our brain automates this pattern thinking.
Causes of blushing
Blushing is caused by widening of the tiny muscles in our blood vessels
under the skin. Normally these muscles are partly contracted giving us our natural complexion. If these muscles are fully
contracted, the blood vessels are closed and less blood can pass through them, which causes the skin to become pale. On the
other end of the scale, if these muscles are relaxed and widened, more blood than normal can pass through, causing the skin
to become redder.
These tiny muscles
are controlled by our autonomic nervous system which can be affected by a number of factors, including heat, illness or our
emotions. If we are emotionally sensitive or our autonomic nervous system is working too hard, blushing may be more common.
Therefore emotions such as embarrassment, guilt, nervousness or shame can often cause blushing.
Treatment for blushing
Most people who blush try to hide it and worry in advance about how they
are going to deal with a certain situation. However this often makes it worse. Some people suffering from blushing have been
able to break this vicious cycle by simply not trying to hide it and announcing when they are about to blush to others. The
more they accept that part of them, the more likely it won't happen! Distraction exercises and deep breathing can also be
ways to help manage the blushing.
can help control blushing by accessing an individual's unconscious mind to discover the root cause ofthe problem and help
the individual to learn how to deal with it in a calmer, more relaxed way. By reframing the negative thought processes an
individual can often feel more comfortable in situations that would usually cause them to blush.
Hypnotherapy can also help to increase self-confidence and self-esteem and
reduce sensitivity to situations that trigger blushing.