How do I control my blushing?

Most of us have experienced blushing at some point in our lives. Whilst it can be a bit embarrassing and inconvenient, it is not usually a cause for concern.

However, for those who have frequent and severe blushing, it can have a significant psychological impact on day to day life whereby individuals end up feeling that they have to avoid certain situations.

What is blushing?

When the human body perceives threat, the fight, freeze or flight  system is activated – adrenalin is released into the body, the pupils dilate, increased blood flow creates more energy, and – that most dreaded of reactions for the socially anxious – a process known as ‘vasodilation’ opens up the blood vessels so that blood flows more easily, turning the face red.

So where’s the threat?

If going red is a reaction to feeling threatened, then what is going on when we blush on entering a room, on meeting someone we know in the street, on being asked a question at work? Yes – we are feeling threatened. ‘Social anxiety’ is a phrase that covers a world of misery – while some anxiety in interactions is usual, for the socially anxious, every encounter is an agony of self-consciousness and doubt, filled with the fear of judgement and disapproval.

Haven’t you grown out of that yet?

For many socially anxious people, the agony becomes focused on the finely-tuned torture of ‘going red’. 

“The fear of blushing can become so powerful that to avoid it people may duck out of social situations, work opportunities, places where they may see someone they know – essentially, they avoid life. ”

Fear of blushing can be so disabling, it is has it’s own medical name: ‘erythrophobia’. Shame can become an intrinsic part of this fear, often embedded by thoughtless or cruel ridicule when blushing as a child or that most sensitive of times - adolescence. The myth that blushing is only something that happens to teenagers can add to the sense of shame.

The paradox of the blush… who notices anyway?

Fear of blushing sets us up to blush. Anticipatory anxiety is fuel. Reducing the fear reduces the likelihood of the blush. Paradoxically, the less we care whether we blush or not, the less likely we are to do it! And part of learning to care less is understanding that to others, a blush is not such a big deal. To people who do not blush easily, blushing is not a terrible or shameful thing. They are not judging harshly when they see someone go red – in fact, they often do not even notice.

Learning not to care that we blush, learning not to beat ourselves up for being anxious, is not always easy. At Emotionalskills we have explored and developed ways of doing that. We find out what is behind your blush, your social anxiety, your fear of disapproval.

None of us should have to avoid life in order to cope. Don’t let your blushes, stop you from living life to the fullest.

Sign up to our newsletter

Keep up to date with news and tips for managing emotional tension and guidance on ways to lead a fulfilling life.
View our latest newsletter here.