A “glimmer”, is a term coined by clinical Social Worker, Deb Dana in her 2018 book, The Polyvagal Theory of Therapy. Glimmers are described as small moments in our day that allow us to feel safe and calm, both emotionally and physiologically.
Glimmers are the opposite of triggers. Triggers are experiences that can create feelings of danger, stress, and/or fear. Glimmers facilitate relaxation and comfort. Biologically, glimmers activate our ventral vagal nervous system, helping create feelings of calm and connection. While triggers can activate our sympathetic nervous, often associated with our fight-flight-freeze responses occurring when our brains perceive something in our environment to be a threat.
Following a recent viral Tik Tok video, people talking about and seeking out glimmers has been showing up in social media platforms at an increasing rate. That is definetley a positive social media trend that I can get on board with!
As humans, we are wired to be sensitive to our surroundings. This process is designed to support our learning, development, and safety. So it makes sense that our brains are more acutely aware of potential dangers in our surroundings to help us respond accordingly. But what if we could intentionally shift our focus away from the triggers and onto the glimmers to signal safety and security within ourselves more often?
While glimmers are often “micro moments”, with practice and time, can make a big impact on our functioning and sense of well-being. Actively seeking out glimmers, can help wire (or re wire) our systems to bring more awareness to our joy, peace, and regulation.
Our environments are full of opportunities for both triggers and glimmers. Sights, smells, sounds, things we can touch or feel, and even foods or drinks that we can taste, can all cue our brains to respond with calm or chaos.
So what are some glimmers we can start seeking out today?
- That first sip of coffee or tea in the morning (this might be a full on shimmer and sparkle moment)
- A smile from your child in a peaceful moment at home
- Getting that last email sent at the end of a busy day
- Climbing into bed at night
- Eating a tasty snack or delicious meal
- Feeling the warmth of the sunshine on your face when you step outside
Glimmers don’t have to be anything extravagant. If we keep our eyes open, we can see and feel little glimmers all throughout our day. These moments can then propel towards increased mental wellbeing, in even the smallest of ways. Even with a busy week back to school, the transition from summer to Fall, and new routines and schedules ahead, we can find a glimmer somewhere, each day, if we are looking for it.
Blog Post by Registered Psychologist, Megan Adams Lebell