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                                                                                                                order to regulate body temperature by the
                                                                                                                process of vasodilation).1

                                                                                                                Obviously these physiological changes are
                                                                                                                extremely useful if we are being physically
                                                                                                                threatened (e.g. by a wild animal) as we
                                                                                                                are then in a strong position to either run
                                                                                                                away or defend ourselves. However, they
                                                                                                                are not so useful when the triggering
                                                                                                                emotion is not fear or anger, but embar-
                                                                                                                rassment - in which case afflicted individuals
                                                                                                                usually have to ‘grin and bear’ the
                                                                                                                situation, along with sweaty palms, a racing
                                                                                                                heart and, of course, a red face. In such
                                                                                                                instances it is only once the feeling of
                                                                                                                embarrassment has subsided that the
                                                                                                                parasympathetic nervous system will bring
                                                                                                                the body back to equilibrium.1 Basically
                                                                                                                speaking, blushing is a means of cooling
                                                                                                                down a body that has been readied for
                                                                                                                action but is remaining stationary.
        magine tripping up on a crowded                      with the latest make-up products and



   I    platform when running for a train,
        knocking over a glass of red wine at a
        formal dinner party, or accidentally
        setting off a security alarm in a busy
   shop. These are typical situations in life that
   would make the majority of us blush. But
   for a large number of people, blushing can
                                                             application techniques, such superficial
                                                             measures do very little to address the
                                                             underlying cause …

                                                             Why we blush
                                                             Blushing is intrinsically linked to our
                                                             inherent ‘fight or flight’ instinct. When
                                                                                                                Blushing: the social element
                                                                                                                The majority of us only blush when we
                                                                                                                feel embarrassed by a particular situation,
                                                                                                                and to feel embarrassment usually
                                                                                                                requires the presence of other people.
                                                                                                                (Very few of us would blush if we spilt
                                                                                                                wine or tripped up at home alone!) This
   be triggered by relatively innocuous,                     faced by something that provokes an                centres around the fact we care about
   everyday events, such as being asked the                  intense emotion in us, such as anger or            what other people think of us. If we
   time or having to speak to somebody of                    fear, our sympathetic nervous system               behave ‘inappropriately’ in a situation, then
   the opposite sex. For these people,                       responds by preparing the body for action:         those who are present will see us acting in
   blushing (or simply the fear of blushing) has             the pupils dilate; the heart accelerates;          a way that is at odds with how we would
   become such a preoccupation, they often                   bladder contraction and stomach activity           like them to see us.1 This is perhaps why
   have difficulty applying for new jobs, finding            are inhibited; and adrenaline is pumped            people rarely recall blushing before the age
   a partner or having any sort of social life.              throughout the body. Simultaneously,               of 5 - up until this age, we do not have the
   And sadly, whilst the Beauty Therapist may                blood is directed either away from the skin        capacity to fully understand what is or isn’t
   be able to help clients mask their blushing               (if required by the muscles) or towards it (in     ‘normal’ or ‘appropriate behaviour’ in a


                In Victorian England, blushing        Certain chemical additives in      Nicotinic acid or niacin,           The word ‘erythrophobia’
did you know:




                in women was considered               cosmetics may aggravate            which occurs naturally in may       (which is a fear/ phobia of
                flattering as it implied that they    sensitive skin, making it red in   foods (including yeast, beans       blushing) comes from the
                were reserved and inhibited           appearance. This may               and lean meat) can dilate           Greek words eruthros,
                by nature - qualities that suited     increase concern about             blood vessels and produce           meaning to be red, and
                their ‘secondary role’ in             blushing in self-conscious         facial flushing if taken in large   phobos, meaning fear.
                society.1                             individuals/ chronic blushers.1    amounts.1


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   social context, nor are we able to consider     what is known as ‘chronic blushing’, or        to make a mental note of as many details
   ourselves or our actions from another           ‘erythrophobia’, whereby the feeling of        as possible relating to a person or object in
   person’s point of view.1                        embarrassment is experienced “in the           close proximity.
                                                   absence of any clearly defined accident,
   Why some people blush more than others          social transgression or faux pas. The only     Whilst the above techniques pay particular
   People who are naturally shy and self-          feature that seems to be essential is the      attention to breaking the blushing-thought
   conscious are far more likely to suffer         presence of other people”.1 It is              cycle, it is also useful to learn different
   from embarrassment/ blushing than               therefore the actual fear of blushing that     modes of relaxation that can be called
   people who are outgoing and confident,          generates the blushing in the first            upon before, during and after a blushing
   and therefore personality type is a key         instance. What triggers this fear is           incidence, to literally calm and cool the
   factor. However, even highly sociable           exposure to any situation that involves        body and face back down. Learning how to
   people can be prone to blushing when            other people.1                                 breathe deeply and to tense and relax the
   faced with a new or unusual situation,                                                         various muscle groups can be helpful, as
   largely because the potential to behave         People who suffer from chronic blushing        can the use of visualisation.
   ‘inappropriately’ (and therefore feel           often get caught up in a vicious blushing-
   embarrassed) is above average.                  thought cycle, which would typically           Remember …
                                                   involve an internal dialogue along the lines   Blushing, particularly chronic blushing, is as
   Whilst everyone is capable of blushing          of: “I’m blushing … have others noticed?       much a psychological problem as it is a
   under the ‘right’ circumstances, there is       … how are they reacting? … I’m sure            physiological one. Understanding, patience,
   little doubt that blushing is more obvious in   they can tell … they must wonder why           and practice are required by those hoping
   people who have fair and/or thin skin. As a     I’m blushing … how embarrassing …              to tackle both the cause and symptoms.
   result, these people are often more self-       what must they think? … is my face getting
   conscious about their blushes than those        redder? … I’m blushing …”1 And although
   who have dark or thick skin, which in turn      it might seem almost impossible to the
   can make them more prone to blushing.1          chronic blusher, Professor Edelmann             References
                                                   believes that this cycle can be broken
   Age can also have a role to play.               through a number of distraction
   Adolescents are particularly concerned          techniques and relaxation strategies …           1
                                                                                                     Coping with Blushing, by Professor
   about what others may think of them, and                                                         Robert Edelmann, was used as
   have to frequently deal with new and            Coping with blushing                             reference material for the purposes of
   potentially embarrassing situations. The fact   It is important for the chronic blusher to       this article. Members who would like
   that the body goes through significant          think positively. This can be achieved           to learn more about the topic of
   physical changes as a result of puberty can     through ‘self-talk’, both before and during      blushing are advised to view or buy a
   be an additional source of anxiety for the      a blushing incidence. When preparing for a       copy of this book. For further details,
   self-conscious teenager. (Indeed, people        difficult situation, one or two of the           see below.
   often report that blushing first became a       following thoughts may be of use:
   problem for them between the ages of 9                                                          Members’ Offer!
   and 13, and escalated during adolescence.)1     • I can cope with it
                                                   • I will not be negative
   On the plus side, however, it is generally      • I will think rationally                        Coping with Blushing, by Professor
   assumed that the frequency and fear of          • I will not worry; it won’t help                Robert Edelmann, is published by
   blushing declines after adolescence. Indeed,    • I will manage the situation.1                  Sheldon Press and retails at £7.99.
   Professor Edelmann comments in his book,                                                         FHT Members can obtain a copy for
   Coping with Blushing, that: “there is           And when blushing:                               just £6.99 (which includes p&p) by
   evidence that neurochemical receptors that                                                       calling: Tel 020
   control the dilation of the facial veins        • It’s not the worst thing that could            7643 0382,
   become less numerous with age and                 happen to me                                   quoting
   hence ones’ capacity to blush may well          • This is a good chance for me to practise       ‘FHT/CWB’.
   decline. It is also likely that many of us        coping                                         Offer closes:
   become less concerned about other               • I can handle this challenge                    November 30th,
   people’s evaluations of us as we get older”.    • I am going to stay and confront this.1         2004. (Book
                                                                                                    statistics: soft-
   Chronic blushing                                Focusing on something or someone else            back; 96 pages;
   Yet age, personality and skin type aside,       as opposed to internal thoughts and/or the       13.5 cm x 20
   some people will apparently blush at just       thoughts of others may also be of benefit.       cm; no illustra-
   about anything. Such people suffer from         For instance, the chronic blusher may like       tions. ISBN: 0-
                                                                                                    85969-919-6)

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