Tips to minimize blushing

Tips to minimize blushing

If public speaking and feeling embarrassed make you feel like a real-life Charlie Brown, you might be interested to know that blushing is a physical response to stress. And if blushing isn’t embarrassing enough, often, the more you think about it, the redder your face gets.

The complexities of blushing have been a mystery for quite some time. In fact, it was the subject of Charles Darwin’s “The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals” where he describes the involuntary gesture as “the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.”

Scientifically, blushing occurs when an emotion causes the glands to release adrenaline into the body. The adrenalin then dilates the blood vessels that make you blush.

Dr. Tahir Sheikh, a psychiatrist at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, Downers Grove, Ill., says that blushing is the body’s natural response to sudden self-consciousness.

“Most people think blushing only occurs when they interact with someone that they are attracted to or when they feel embarrassed. But in reality, blushing can also occur when someone feels any kind of social discomfort, such as feeling inferior socially or professionally; uncomfortable; anxious; scrutinized; or ashamed,” says Dr. Sheikh.

So what can be done to downplay this emotional expression? Dr. Sheikh suggests the following tips:

Relax – The more tense you feel, the more blood is forced to the face. Instead, when you feel a blush coming on, drop your shoulders, relax your body and push your stomach out.

Avoid focusing on the embarrassment – Divert your attention from the embarrassment and think about something else.

Cold water – Grab a cold washcloth or run a paper towel under cold water and hold on the face to shrink blood vessels.

Meditation – Before a presentation or anxiety-ridden situation, meditate to calm the nerves and stress hormones.

And keep in mind, while people who blush a lot tend to be uncomfortable with their feelings being on full display, research has shown that society finds blushing charming, says Dr. Sheikh.

“People gravitate to those who are authentic. The ability to show your true self, blushing and all, makes you more likable and trustworthy,” he says.

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About the Author

Johnna Kelly
Johnna Kelly

Johnna Kelly, healthe news contributor, is a manager of public affairs and marketing at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn. She is a former newspaper reporter and spent nearly 10 years as a public relations professional working for state and county government. During her time as a communications staffer for the Illinois General Assembly, she was integral in drafting and passing legislation creating Andrea's Law, the nation's first murderer registry. In her spare time, she volunteers at a local homeless shelter, enjoys traveling, photography and watching the Chicago Bulls.