It comes out of the blue. It draws people’s attention and you feel that warm, familiar sensation on your cheeks. The more you think about it, the more your cheeks get warmer… and then you’re done-for. You know it can only get worse. Your face starts to burn and you know you must look like… a tomato.
Blushing. This problem is shared men and women of all ages. Everyone turns red sometimes, but for some people it’s is a real problem. Fortunately, with some work, it’s totally possible to control this unwanted coloring of your face.
Why we blush?
Blushing can have many causes, but this involuntary reddening of the face is typically triggered by embarrassment or stress. Your nervous system is stimulated in moments of emotional response and releases hormones like epinephrine (adrenaline) into your body. Your blood circulation automatically increases in reaction to this hormonal signal. Blood flows from your extremities to your upper body (this is why nervousness is also associated with cold hands) and flows directly to your face. The lighter your skin is, the more visible your blushes are.
Blushing is usually a result of anxiety, fear, or embarrassment. However, some people suffer from Rosacea, a skin ailment, which can be healed by avoiding stress, prolonged exposure to sunlight, and spicy foods.
Blushing may also be triggered by an irrational fear of blushing, known as erythrophobia. This is an anxiety disorder or a social phobia which requires psychological treatment. However, in less severe cases, it’s possible to learn to control our blushing reflex on our own. People most commonly blush too much if they haven’t developed a good attitude towards criticism and they’re over-sensitive to what others think of them. Most people don’t blush when they’re alone!
Luckily, we blush less with age; we develop better social skills and our skin becomes less sensitive. Nevertheless, you probably don’t want to wait until retirement to get this problem solved! It’s important to acknowledge that our blushing problems are usually “just in our own head”. Although blushes are typically provoked by external factors, we control how we react to the world. This gives us hope because it means that we can control blushing with the power of our mind alone!
Method 1: Desensitize Yourself
The key to stopping your blushing is to disconnect your nervous system from your blush response in stressful situations. To desensitize your body to emotional situations that make you blush, you need to identify the root cause: the situations which cause you stress, anxiety, and embarrassment.
Take some time and visualize different situations that make you blush. You can even make a list of the situations which cause your strongest emotional responses. Everyone is different; your blushing could be triggered by talking to a super-hot girl, speaking in public, or maybe bumping into your ex with a new boyfriend.
When you feel embarrassed, think it through and analyze your responses as if you were an outside observer of what’s happening. The whole point of this exercise is to rationalize your fear by naming it and trying to gain control.
Don’t avoid the things that make you blush; instead, condition your body to believe that there’s no reason to blush when these triggers come along. After a while, you’ll notice that you’re blushing less in stressful situations.
When speaking in public: If you need to make a speech or talk with someone who stresses you out, imagine this person in their underwear or some other silly situation. I personally imagine other people “dancing like no one is watching” – in their own weird style, with very stupid moves. It makes them look funny and less authoritative to me. It reminds me that everyone’s human, and I’m not the only one who makes mistakes.
Method 2: Make Intentional Blushing Attempts
Stand in front of the mirror and try to blush. Do your best to make your face turn red for several minutes. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times a day.
Did it work? Probably not.
As I mentioned before, blushing is an involuntary human reaction, which means it can’t be provoked on demand. Nevertheless, these kinds of intentional blushing attempts (if repeated regularly) can help you stop blushing as often! Psychologists say that this exercise (even if unsuccessful) gets your brain used to the idea of blushing, and reduces your fear of blushing in stressful situations.
Method 3: Try the “Cold Water” Method
Don’t worry, I won’t advise you to jump into a cold shower whenever you feel you’re about to blush.
In a stressful moment, when you feel your face starting to heat up, imagine being in a cold, wet place. Picture yourself jumping into a swimming pool, standing under a waterfall, or taking a cold shower. Do your best to feel the coolness of the water falling away from your body.
Visualization is a powerful tool which can make you feel colder just by thinking about it. It also helps to think about something other than the reason you’re stressed!
Method 4: Take a Rational Approach
Blushing is a feedback-loop mechanism inside your body. If you’re embarrassed, you blush. When you blush, you get more embarrassed and turn redder. You may not be able to think about anything else but your blushing…
When this happens, quickly put yourself in the role of an observer. Take a moment to analyze your emotions and get a bit of distance from your stressful situation.
Are you talking to people? Do you feel judged by them? So what! They’re just humans like you. They go to the bathroom the same way you do and have the same problems in their lives. Surely you aren’t the first or the last person to stand there and talk to them. Relax, and don’t exaggerate the situation.
Care less about what other people think in general. REALLY. The sooner you understand this, the happier your life will be! Life is too short to worry about people who judge or despise you. You simply don’t have time for it!
Method 5: Manage Your Stress
Feeling relaxed and in control can prevent blushing from occurring in the first place. Get plenty of sleep to keep your cortisol levels in balance, and become more aware of your breath.
Relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing, may also quiet down your over-stimulated nervous system and counteract the blood pressure symptoms associated with anxiety.
Yoga is a great mind/body exercise that helps center your thoughts and provide physical stimulation that gets your blood flowing throughout your body – not just to your face. Mindfulness and breathing training from yoga and/or meditation will help you control your body in stressful situations.
In more severe anxiety cases, it’s possible to use medication, such as a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). After a consultation with your doctor, this type of medication can be used to reduce your feelings of fear and anxiety.
Method 6: Stop Caring About It!
Last but not least, simply stop worrying about your blushing. I know it’s annoying to have your involuntary stress reactions displayed on your face—but believe me—people care much less about your blushing than you do! Just accept blushing as a part of your charm, and don’t fixate your thoughts on it.
Furthermore, people often see someone who blushes as more sympathetic and authentic. Researchers believe that people who blush are better at relationships, because they report higher levels of monogamy and trustworthiness.