Why Do We Blush ? Why do we develop pink tinge in the face from embarrassment or shame ?
As soon as he walks into the room, flashing you a quick grin, your cheeks take on a light shade of red. You feel the crimson washing over your face, but there’s nothing you can do — you’re blushing.
Blush biology works like this: Veins in the face dilate, causing more blood to flow into your cheeks, thus the rosy color. But scientists are stumped as to why it happens or what function it serves. That is, besides deflating your ego
Researchers in California conducted two experiments. In the first, 60 students were asked to recount embarrassing moments and rated according to how much they blushed. They were then given ten raffle tickets and asked to keep some and share the rest.
It turns out that those who blushed the most tended to give away more of their tickets, which suggested they were more altruistic than non-blushers.
In the second experiment, participants watched an actor express either embarrassment or pride at being told he had received a perfect score on a test.
The volunteers said they were more inclined to trust the actor if they saw him blush and seem ruffled by the good news, rather than proud.
AsapSCIENCE explains blushing as a reaction of the sympathetic nervous system and part of our “fight or flight” response. When you’re embarrassed, adrenaline is released, speeding up your heart rate and dilating your blood vessels to improve your blood flow and oxygen delivery. In humans, facial veins react to this adrenaline by blushing. But this response doesn’t happen anywhere else in your body, which is why you don’t blush all over.
The author of the study, Matthew Feinberg, says: ‘Moderate levels of embarrassment are signs of virtue. You want to affiliate with embarrassed people more. You feel comfortable trusting them.’
How to Avoid Blushing
Relax Out of It
Blushing tends to get worse at first as people start to get embarrassed about their embarrassment, creating a sort of vicious circle. The more tense you get as you start to blush, the more the blood is forced to the face. One trick is, when you feel it coming on, to deliberately drop your shoulders, relax your body, and push your stomach out. This takes a bit of doing at first, so you might want to practice.
Try to prevent blushing in the first place, if possible
Find out when you blush. Is it when you’re angry, or when you’re nervous? Is it when you look at or think of a certain someone? Is it when you’re put in the spotlight? Don’t necessarily try to avoid whatever makes you blush, but try to condition your body to believe that there is no reason to blush when it comes along. This is the first step in beating the blushing.
Announce It, Don’t Hide It
One thing that allows the circle to continue is the ‘hiding’ of it by the blusher. I used to blush much more than I do now (most people do from time to time). The way I dealt with it, and a way that has helped clients of mine, was to announce it when it was about to happen. “Here we go, I’m going to go red now” or “Oh, I think I might blush“.
“Drinking a glass of cold water may help cool down your body and normalize your coloring when a flush sets in,” says Wechsler. She also suggests placing a cold compress of water or milk on your skin to constrict blood vessels.