Blushing – What’s it all about?

If you’re a blusher, you’ll know exactly what it means to feel that sudden rush of blood to your face. Oh yes, we’ve all been there. You’re happily walking along the street and all of a sudden you trip up and you’re heading to the ground. You look around, only to discover that there are people all around you, just staring at you and asking if you’re ok. You get up and there it begins, this unwanted rush of blood heading straight up to your face. You know you’re glowing and that everyone’s watching you. This is the world of blushing and for many people it’s devastating and can have a severe effect on their self esteem and confidence.

Blushing is perfectly natural and it happens to lots and lots of people, especially when something highly embarrassing happens to them. What exactly is blushing though and why on Earth does it cause us to get so hot and bothered?

What’s going on?

You may not have known this but blushing is unique to us humans and the rush of blood we get to our face, neck and sometimes ears is caused by adrenaline. The fight or flight response causes the blood vessels in our face to increase in diameter, this is known as vasodilation and it also supplies an increase in blood flow to our faces. This reaction, only happens because the sympathetic nervous system has been stimulated, for whatever reason. This response is totally involuntary and really is out of your control. It can happen at the drop of a hat and in any situation at all.

Some people get this rush of blood to their face, neck and ears, which can cause deep embarrassment. Blushing really can have a huge effect on people’s lives and can stop them living a normal life. Many people refuse to leave the house because of the fear of blushing.

This blushing fear is known as erythrophobia and requires medical attention otherwise it can lead to other medical conditions. Blushing makes people feel hot and sweaty as well as many other physical symptoms, for instance anxiety. Anxiety can cause you to blush but the blushing can also lead to anxiety. This is the unwanted cycle that urgently needs to be broken.

Our faces appear red when we blush because there are more blood vessels and capillaries there than anywhere else on our bodies and some people have more blood vessels on their faces than others, which is why some people get redder than others.

The release of adrenaline is the result of embarrassment. There are many other reasons why we blush for instance after meals, certain drinks, or social events. These are controlled, however, by other biochemical pathways. Charles Darwin said that blushing was strange and that it’s “The most peculiar and most human of all expressions.” Most blushers would absolutely agree with this statement.

So, what’s the point to blushing?

Well, this is a very good question and it’s a question that scientists haven’t really been able to answer yet. There are some very good theories though about why it is that we humans blush.

Blushing is brought about by embarrassment and other emotional triggers for instance anger, shyness, nervousness, sadness etc. Blushing is seen as a very important signal to other people. Our ancestors blushed. They did so because way back then they wouldn’t have known that many words and so they wouldn’t have been able to communicate very well through speech. The only way they could let others know what they were feeling was through blushing.

You cannot fake blushing, as we mentioned earlier, it’s totally involuntary and once it’s happening to you, you cannot stop it.

This is a highly probable theory and it tells us that blushing is totally natural and it happens to most people and there really is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about.

Blushing enables us to show our emotions to other people. It lets them know when we’re feeling sad, angry, shy or embarrassed. Blushing is an extremely powerful cue that’s non verbal and many people actually find blushing rather sweet and attractive. It has been said that many people trust those who blush far more than they trust those that don’t blush.

Blushing tells others that we are self aware, that we know what we are feeling and that yes, we do have emotions and feelings and we aren’t afraid to show them. Blushing shows that we are intelligent, emotionally and that we have the ability to recognise what it is we are feeling and that we can react to any situation appropriately.

Blushing can also let others know when we are sorry for something and that we wish things could have turned out differently. This is especially true when a mistake has been made that directly affects another person. In this instance blushing can help to keep the peace with another.

It’s a part of who we are

As Darwin says blushing is strange but it’s one of the most natural things in the world. It’s totally out of our hands if and when we blush and perhaps, we’re just going to have to accept that it’s just a part of who we are. Blushing may be unwanted but once we learn to accept the fact that we’re blushers the less we may actually blush.

Remember, the more we think about blushing the more we do blush and when we ignore our blushing, it goes away on its own. If you’re a blusher and get embarrassed easily, don’t let it bother you, it’s a natural human trait and maybe, there’s something very special about it, after all.