Why do we blush?

And why does it get worse the more you think about it?
Why do we blush?

We all do it, whether we want to or not. Blushing is normally involuntary and always seems to happen at the worse possible moments: during an important presentation or meeting, or when you meet someone you think is attractive. And the more aware you are of your blushing the worse it gets. But why does it happen if we can’t control it?

What is blushing?

Blushing and flushing sometimes get mixed up with each other but they do differ from each other, though they do have a close physiological relation. Blushing is generally milder, restricted to the face and assumed to reflect emotional stress, while flushing is more intensive and extends over more of the body and is rarely caused by a mental state.

Emotional stress associated with blushing include passion, embarrassment, shyness, fear, anger and romantic stimulation. Which basically means that it comes down to that we turn red because we care. We care about what someone else thinks of us in a great variety of situations and that makes us blush.

But what physically happens when we blush? The reddening of the cheeks and forehead, and sometimes neck, chest and ears, is caused by blood vessels that dilate which causes the blood flow to increase and in return causes reddening of the skin. Often you’ll feel yourself turning red before you actually are as you’ll feel warm. Blushing is in principle a physiological reaction which is intended to cool the skin.

Girl blushingBlushing is a good thing

Blushing is part of social behaviour which is why we tend to only do so in those parts of our body that people can see. Men, for instance, tend not to turn red where their beards may grow. When people see you blush, they’ll likely know that you care about their reaction. Whether you have done something silly or are a little insecure, when people see you turn red they are less likely to judge you harshly for it because they are more likely to sympathise with you.

When we blush we often tend to think we shouldn’t be and get embarrassed even further which just makes it worse. It is better to accept the colouring than to fight it. Because if you don’t care about blushing, you are less likely to do so.

Other ways to lessen how often you turn red is by trying to care less about what other people think of you. Focus on the task at hand and the message you want to bring across, ignore the blush that spreads across your face (easier said than done, we know).

Finally, it is important we all start normalising blushing and put it in perspective, everybody does it on occasion even the most secure and assertive people do. Blushing shouldn’t be considered a negative attribute. For if everyone does it and it shows that you care, how can it be wrong?