Tag Archive for: psychology

Understanding Nonbinary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive

Understanding Nonbinary People: How to Be Respectful and Supportive

Nonbinary Defined

Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time.

People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with nonbinary being one of the most common (sometimes spelled with a hyphen, as “non-binary”). Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, genderfluid, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing – but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female. If you’re not sure what a word means, you can usually just ask politely.

Why “Nonbinary”?

Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. The idea that there are only two genders is sometimes called a “gender binary,” because binary means “having two parts” (male and female). Therefore, “nonbinary” is one term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.

Basic Facts about Nonbinary People

Nonbinary people are nothing new. Non-binary people aren’t confused about their gender identity or following a new fad – nonbinary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies around the world.

Some, but not all, nonbinary people undergo medical procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity. While not all nonbinary people need medical care to live a fulfilling life, it’s critical and even lifesaving for many.

Most transgender people are not nonbinary. While some transgender people are nonbinary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female and should be treated like any other man or woman.

Being nonbinary is not the same thing as being intersex. Intersex people have anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female. Most intersex people identify as either men or women, though some may be nonbinary. Non-binary people are usually not intersex: they’re usually born with bodies that may fit typical definitions of male and female, but their innate gender identity is something other than male or female.

How to Be Respectful and Supportive of Nonbinary People

It isn’t as hard as you might think to be supportive and respectful of nonbinary people, even if you have just started to learn about them.

You don’t have to understand what it means for someone to be nonbinary to respect them. Some people haven’t heard a lot about nonbinary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that’s okay. Identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect.

Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a nonbinary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don’t ask someone what their old name was.

Try not to make any assumptions about people’s gender. You can’t tell if someone is nonbinary simply by looking at them, just like how you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by how they look. A nonbinary person might appear feminine, masculine, or genderless, or show a mix of gendered characteristics – and their appearance doesn’t determine their pronouns.

If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different nonbinary people may use different pronouns. Many nonbinary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.

Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It’s important for nonbinary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school, and in public spaces.

Understand that, for many nonbinary people, navigating gendered spaces – like bathrooms – can be challenging. For many nonbinary people, using either the women’s or the men’s restroom might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Nonbinary people should be able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in. You can help support nonbinary people by accepting their judgment about where they feel most comfortable when dealing with spaces that are based on binary gender distinctions.

Talk to nonbinary people to learn more about who they are. There’s no one way to be nonbinary. The best way to understand what it’s like to be nonbinary is to talk with nonbinary people and listen to their stories.

Source: National Centre for Transgender Equality (2023)

 

Blog Post by Registered Psychologist, Kerri Hill

 

Lacking Motivation? Try a TOMATO!

Lacking Motivation? Try a TOMATO!

Picture this: You’re staring at a to-do list, a work task, or a school assignment, and you begin to feel like time is slipping through your fingers as you struggle to find the motivation to get started. The problem is that you can’t pull motivation out of thin air – it fuels itself, and it needs to start somewhere.

Motivation consists of these steps:

  • Desire or Goal: Motivation starts when you have something you want to achieve. It could be improving your grades, changing your diet, or learning a new skill.
  • Expectation of Reward: When you set a goal, you usually expect some sort of benefit from achieving it. If you want to earn better grades, the reward could be a sense of accomplishment, a scholarship, or praise from parents and teachers.
  • Taking Action: To reach that desired reward, you need to act. You need to do something to bring you closer to your goal, whether that means studying for exams or hitting the gym on a regular schedule.
  • Achieving Success: As you act, you make progress towards your goal. Witnessing that progress gives you a sense of accomplishment, which acts as a reward in itself, and further reinforces your motivation. This feeling propels you to keep going and move closer to your initial goal. This step boosts your motivation, and encourages you to set new goals, expect new rewards, take new actions, and achieve new successes.

So how do tomatoes fit into this motivational equation?

In the late 1980s, an Italian college student, Francesco Cirillo, came up with a highly effective time management technique involving his kitchen timer which was shaped as a pomodoro (“tomato” in English). He started by setting the timer for two minutes and focusing on the task at hand for the whole time, until the timer went off. He then rewarded himself with a short break. He called each period of focus time “a Pomodoro” and thus, The Pomodoro® Technique was born (Cirillo Consulting, 2011).

Cirillo then experimented with different time intervals for each “tomato” and determined that the most productive times for himself was: 25 minutes of focused work time followed by a 2–5-minute break. After completing 4 tomatoes, a longer break of about 15-30 minutes may be warranted.

This technique acts as a trusty sidekick for your motivation and productivity. By breaking your work into manageable intervals, you avoid feeling overwhelmed by the enormity of the task ahead. Instead, you’re fueled by a sense of accomplishment every time you complete a “tomato.” These regular breaks help to prevent burnout and keep your mind fresh.

In a world filled with distractions, The Pomodoro® Technique offers a playful yet effective way to regain control over your time and supercharge your productivity. Whether you’re a student juggling assignments, a professional drowning in a sea of emails, or a busy adult trying to conquer housework, consider trying a few tomatoes. You might just harvest a bounty of accomplishments!

Reference:

Cirillo Consulting. (2011). The Pomodoro® Technique. The Pomodoro Technique. https://francescocirillo.com/products/the-pomodoro-technique

 

Blog Post by Registered Social Worker and Clinical Counsellor, Alicia Totten

 

What Does an Initial Speech Session Look Like?

What Does an Initial Speech Session Look Like?

You have been referred to see a speech-language pathologist (SLP) and have your initial appointment coming up or maybe you are debating booking an initial appointment. This blog is to provide information as to what an initial session with a speech-language pathologist at Wildflowers looks like!

  1. Interview
  • Upon entering the room, you will typically see a few different games and toys. Your child will be given a toy or game to get comfortable in the room and keep busy while the SLP asks some interview questions. The questions will vary based on the area of concern. The SLP will also ask follow-up questions based on the intake form that is completed before the session. The interviews’ purpose is to gain information that will be helpful in creating goals for your child near the end of the initial appointment.
  1. Play
  • The SLP will initiate play with your child to gain unstructured information. As it looks like the SLP is just playing with your child, they are gaining very important information. The SLP is paying attention to how your child produces sounds, what words they are using, if they use gestures, how or if they use words to interact with others, what sentence types they are using, how they play with toys, etc. This information allows the SLP to see the areas of concern in an unstructured way which helps them decide what areas they need to assess further. This is also to build rapport with your child as a good relationship will be key in how your child responds to intervention.
  1. Screening
  • Depending on the area of concern, this will look different. The SLP will introduce a screening measure to identify if your child has difficulty with a certain skill or not. From that information, the SLP will decide if further assessment needs to be done in that area. For example, if your child has difficulty producing a sound, the SLP will identify that sound during an unstructured task (play), identify it during a speech screening, then assess further to determine what position the sound is in error (initial, medial, and/or final) and at what level (words, phrases, sentences, conversation). All this information is used to create goals and sets a clear starting point for following sessions.
  1. Creating goals
  • The SLP will collect all the information gained through different measures during the initial session and state the appropriate goals for your child. The SLP will also ask what is important to you to be worked on so the goal making process is collaborative and meaningful.
  1. Homework
  • This is not as scary as it sounds! The SLP will provide strategies or information for you to implement at home to help prepare your child to work on their goals in future sessions. There will always be “homework” sent home after each session, so you know how to practice the skill at home and in other environments.

At the end of the initial session, the SLP will write down some background information, unstructured observations, screening observations, and recommendations on a note for you to take home. The SLP will review all the information collected with you. The goal is that you leave with a better understanding of the skills your child is having difficulty with, clear goals that will be targeted in follow up sessions, and ways to start working on the skill at home and in other environments.

Please keep in mind that other SLP’s at other clinics may do things differently and the initial session may look different depending on your child’s age!

 

Blog Post by Registered Speech-Language Pathologist, Kristen Lipp

 

Anxiety and the Fight-Flight-Freeze Response

Anxiety and the Fight-Flight-Freeze Response

The fight-flight-freeze response is our body’s way of reacting to threats or dangers, whether they are real (i.e. life or death situations) or perceived (i.e. an upcoming test, job interview, etc). Our body’s three main ways of responding to possible threats are to “fight” through the situation, “flight” by avoiding, or “freeze” by shutting down.

How our body and mind respond to fight-flight-freeze:

When our amygdala (the part of our brain responds to a threat) detects fear or stress, our body’s sympathetic (involuntary) nervous system becomes activated which can cause our body to respond in the following ways:

  • increased heart rate – mind racing (thinking errors)
  • muscle tension – shaking/sweating/chills
  • shallow/rapid breathing – faintness or lightheadedness
  • pupils dilate – bladder issues

During this response, our mind can engage in thinking errors (assuming the worst, all-or-nothing thinking, blaming, personalizing, etc) and we can be impulsive.

Ways to regulate and cope with our fight-flight-freeze response:

  • ground yourself using your 5 senses
  • practice deep breathing and muscle relaxation
  • improve your sleep hygiene/routine
  • eat a healthy/well balanced diet
  • engage in regular exercise
  • avoid/reduce drug and alcohol consumption
  • understand your triggers and how your body responds
  • challenge your thinking errors and work on reframing with positive thoughts
  • practice activities like mindfulness, meditation, and yoga
  • establish boundaries and reduce emotional vulnerability
  • practice exposure therapy
  • talk to your doctor about medication

When your fight-flight-freeze response is frequently activated, it leaves us feeling tired, exhausted, and unable to live in the present moment. By helping to understand your fight-flight-freeze response, you will be better able to regulate and cope so that you can be more present and engaged in life. It’s important to remember that not all anxious feelings are bad. A healthy amount of anxiety can help motivate us to succeed and accomplish tasks.

For more information about Anxiety and the Fight-Flight-Freeze Response visit: Anxiety Canada’s Website

 

Blog Post by Registered Social Worker, Justin Beahm

 

Can’t We Just Use Spellcheck?: Secrets Behind the Importance of Encoding

Can’t We Just Use Spellcheck?:  Secrets Behind the Importance of Encoding

“I can’t spell either, but isn’t that what word processors are for?”  This is shared sentiment for many of us who were taught to read by recognizing words as whole units as opposed to breaking them down into sound parts.  Regardless, we can indeed read, and that’s what matters…right?  And that’s really all we need our kids to do…yes?  Well, let’s break it down.

First, it is important to address some terms that we may hear thrown around at family/teacher conferences:

Decoding: the process of using sounds and blending them together to read words.

Encoding: the process of matching letters to sounds in order to spell words.

Phonemic awareness: identifying, hearing, and working with sounds in spoken words (i.e. changing the last sound in /cat/ to /p/ to make /cap/).

Phonics: connecting sounds to actual letters.

Reading and spelling work simultaneously to develop overall literacy skills.  When we come to understand the relationships between letters and sounds (phonics) and how to manipulate those sounds (phonemic awareness), we improve our encoding (spelling) skills.  And consequently, when we possess these valuable encoding skills we will in turn improve our decoding (reading).

Put simply: When you can spell, you can read more effectively, and visa versa.  So take as many opportunities as possible to equally develop these skills with your child.

Perhaps you can both become literacy wizards!

 

Blog Post by Educational Strategist, Kimberly Desautels

 

How to Talk to Kids about Death and Dying

How to talk to Kids about Dying and Death

Children and adolescents can respond to death and dying differently, and it is important to consider their developmental stages when having discussions about this topic. Dominant societal norms have informed our understanding of developmental stages and needs. The following are a few considerations to help guide you when having conversations about death and dying with children and adolescents.

  1. Be honest and concrete.

When it comes to describing death to children, it is important to be truthful and tell them that a loved on has died, and explain what the impacts of that are. Children often have a hard time understanding the permanence of death, and adults can at times complicate this understanding by using euphemisms.  Adults often resort to using euphemisms because they have good intentions and want to “soften” the impact of death to the child, however these phrases send the wrong messages to kids. Sayings such as “passed away”, “went on a long journey”, “is on a long sleep” all send the wrong message to kids because these are not true. Telling a child when their pet dies, that “we put the dog to sleep”, can result in the child feeling scared to fall asleep because they will associate sleep with dying. Instead, it is advisable to be honest and perfectly clear.  Say “when you die, your heart stops beating. Your body stops working. You don’t eat. You don’t sleep. You don’t breathe”. This gives more honest context for the child to help them begin to understand.

  1. Loss comes in many different shapes and forms.

Loss doesn’t always include death, and can be invisible at times.  Our western cultural norms acknowledge death and grief with support from the nuclear family, extended family and larger social community. However, loss can include the loss of a friendship, loss of employment, loss of social status, loss of wishes, hopes and dreams.  It becomes important as parents to be aware of how these losses impact our feelings, and if we can be validating, accepting and supportive of these losses we can foster increased resilience in our children.

  1. Take Things Slow.

Children understand and process death in tiny bits and pieces, over a period of time. Developmentally they are unable to process and internalize the concepts all at once, so do not expect them to do this. They will ask questions about the person who has died one day, and three days later ask again. This is how their brains are processing the loss. It’s like eating an apple, one tiny bit at a time. If you can remain calm and patient, and answer their questions when they ask or invite them to read a book about death (some titles will be suggested below) or tell a story about their loved one, this will help them maintain their relationship with their loved one and help them slowly understand that their relationship with this person has changed.

4. Create a circle of care around the child.

The death of a loved one can be unsettling for a child, and children are also very attuned to the disruption in their parents &/or caregivers lives. Children can develop fears of being alone or of being abandoned. It is comforting for children to be reassured by their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends and family to know that they are cared for. This can be verbalized to children, but it can also be shown by spending 1:1 time with them involved in age appropriate activities.

  1. It’s okay to show sadness and cry in front of your child.

Parents being able to role model and express emotions in times of sadness is powerful for children to witness. Children need to see their adults around them as human beings who feel all emotions, including sadness and grief. The tenderness and vulnerability you can express in front of your child, models to them that you can live with emotions and help prepare them for when they may feel overwhelmed by grief again.

  1. The funeral rule.

Give kids a choice when it comes to attending funerals, and tell them that you will accept whatever choice they choose. Also, if they choose to attend explain to them what will happen at the funeral, including if there will be an open casket, any religious ceremonies, graveside services. By being clear and direct with the child, you can help them visualize and gain a deeper understanding of death rituals and you can help them decide if they are ready to be present for that. If they choose to attend, find ways to have them be involved, and let them know that many strangers may speak to them, and that it is okay to visit with cousins and other family members that they may not see often. No child is too young to attend a funeral, but they may need different support from you depending on their age.

See the Child Grief resource for more information on grief and development.

  1. Keep hope alive.

Children need to be reassured that life will go on, and that you (and they) are going to be okay. This is a key component to helping children adjust to death and loss. Instilling hope for the future in your child builds resilience, and you can do this by helping them identify some of the things they are looking forward to in their future. (ie, list five things you are excited for in the next month(s)).

  1. Allow them to continue a relationship with their loved one.

Parents can help their child continue a relationship with their loved one through special acts, projects, traditions to honour the memory of the loved one who has passed away. Memory books, letters, stories, picture boards, videos, music, food and clothing can all help children still feel connected with their loved one who has passed away. Allowing them to talk to the person, saying their name regularly and continuing conversations about them all invite the child to remember and connect. Children fear “losing their connection” to their loved one, and this connection needs to be nurtured and fostered to maintain the bond between the child and loved one.

If you have questions or concerns always feel free to reach out to your clinician to talk about loss, dying, death and grief.  These topics can be challenging to discuss, but your clinician provides a safe space for you to be open about your feelings, and to receive acknowledgment and support.

I have included some children’s resources to help parents introduce this conversation in their homes.

Sources:

Sedney, M. A., Baker, J. E., & Gross, E. (1994). “The story” of a death: Therapeutic considerations with bereaved families. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy20(3), 287–296. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1752-0606.1994.tb00116.x

O’Toole, D. (2002). Storytelling with Bereaved Children. Helping Bereaved Children: A Handbook for Practitioners. https://doi.org/9781593851644, 408

 

Blog Post by Registered Social Worker and Clinical Counsellor, Tammy Wagner

 

The Importance of Gestures in Developing Language

The Importance of Gestures in Developing Language

Before children start to communicate verbally, they begin to communicate their wants and needs to us by using gestures. It may be a surprise that an important milestone before a child says their first words is a child beginning to use gestures such as pointing to objects, opening and closing hands towards an item, or pulling an adult’s hand towards an item.

The Hanen Centre shares how children who use more gestures early on have also been shown to have larger vocabularies later when they begin to communicate verbally.  A child who shows or points to an item, will likely learn the word for it within three months. When a child is experiencing a language delay pairing words with gestures has been shown to produce greater language gains.

When and what gestures should my child be using?

Around:

  • 9 months: start to shake their head “no” and turn away.
  • 10 months: begin to lift their arms to indicate wanting to be picked up and reach out to get an item.
  • 11 months: will reach out with an item in their hand to “show” you and begin to wave hi and bye.
  • 12 months: begin to point to more items using an open-hand.
  • 13 months: start to clap and blow kisses.
  • 14 months: begin to point with only their index finger and bring their index finger up to their mouth to indicate “shhhh”.
  • 15 months: begin to give thumbs up and nod their heads to indicate “yes”.
  • 16 months: start to do high fives and raise their arms and hands into a “I dunno” position.

(First Words Project, 2014)

How can you help your child use more gestures?

  • Pointing to different objects and items. While reading a book or playing with a child’s preferred toy point out the different characters or items, making sure to say the word of the item at the same time as well.
  • Copy the gestures your child creates and add in the word for it to provide acknowledgement and encouragement to use it more.
  • Use gestures that show the function or shape of the object or word. Pointing down when talking about going down the slide or blowing when talking about blowing bubbles.

 

Blog Post by Speech-Language Pathologist, Jill Swenson

 

Finding Joy

Finding Joy

What is joy and how do we find it?   Finding joy is not a deep mystery.  We have the ability to see joy in life every day.  Mahatma Gandhi said, “a man is but the products of his thought, what he thinks he becomes”.  We have the ability to create joy in life.  The life we want to create is based on what we see as meaningful and valuable.   Experiencing joy influences our beliefs, values, and decisions we make.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines joy as feelings of pleasure or happiness resulting from positive experiences, achieving goals, doing well on exam, buying a house, or being able to do things we did not think we could.   Experiencing joy enhances the quality of relationships we have with ourselves and others.

We can create joy by choosing to do things that bring us joy or make us happy.    Take a moment to think about the things you do that make you feel happy. These can be anything like your first cup of coffee in the morning, hugging a special person, enjoying a good meal, reading a book, dancing in your kitchen, going for a walk, volunteering, exercising, journaling, time with friends, time alone, meditation, prayer. The list is endless and deeply personal.  How many of these are part of your daily or weekly routine?  Is there something you realize you have missed doing for a long time? Is there something you want to try but have not been able to do?  Joy becomes easier to see and more familiar the more we experience it.  We can have more joy in our lives by doing the simple things that bring happiness.

Joy is part the process of living and experience life.  Mahatma Gandhi also said, “joy lies in the fight, in the attempt, in the suffering involved, not in the victory itself.” Joy is something we can practice daily in our lives for it to become more familiar and easier to see.  This brings a shift in how we think about ourselves and the relationships we have.  We have the ability to create the life we want by choosing what we do.  If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life, but still the same amount of snow.

 

Take a moment to find your joy.

 

Blog Post by Clinical Social Worker, Bren Schock

 

The Unnerving Force: Permission to Feel – Eating Disorders Edition

The Unnerving Force: Permission to Feel

Eating Disorders Edition 

What would happen if you gave yourself permission to feel?

Imagine: Pressing pause on the busyness, facing the avoidance, slowing down for a moment, acknowledging the overwhelm and uneasiness…as your body senses freedom to release what it truly feels. Do you listen?

Remember: When was the first time that you can recall sharing your true, authentic feelings to someone that you trusted, confiding in them … mustering the courage to share your vulnerabilities … and their reaction was … uncalled for? Perhaps they rejected your expression with denial, anger, or ignorance toward your confession. When was the first time you internalized that your feelings were not valid and that it was easier to shut off uncomfortable emotions rather than to feel and express them?

Reflect: Each of us has a tapestry of lived experiences that have shaped how we tolerate or suppress emotional outcomes. For years, many of us have been conditioned to deny our feelings – specifically speaking – feelings that evoke distress when considering our bodies. Perhaps we have felt overwhelmed by our own emotions and expectations of our bodies … and after a long period of time the complexities of our feelings can project catastrophe and even chaos as we consider the unveiling. To begin articulating such bodily sensations feels utterly confusing. Obsessive or compulsive thoughts may precede intense physical responses to our emotional discourse … numbness, disgust, dissociation, or shame. Many of us cope with such discomfort through the illusionary lens of satisfaction by controlling food or exercise. With eating disorders, emotional highs and lows can become a rollercoaster, sweeping us off the floor and throwing our heads back in self-disciplined delight, to the next minute plummeting into an intrusive hole of self-hatred. When experiencing an eating disorder, it can feel that you have control at last, that a structured regime creates a sense of ease, while simultaneously disconnecting our bodies natural rhythms from the parts of our brain that manage rational thinking.

Imagine: Having a phobia, something you fear, and Every. Single. Day. facing that fear, multiple times a day, fixating about that fear, ruminating on mental exits, yet you can never completely get away. Struggling with an eating disorder, can feel something like this. We may deny our emotional wounds and think only that this acquired sense of control will help us feel in balance or create relief. We may be aware of the harm occurring to our bodies, but the release of tension through restriction overpowers logical reasoning to stop. And so we hide. Stay silent in the fight until our bodies start speaking for us.

Remember: It is important to know that anyone who experiences an eating disorder feels reality differently. Their reasons, story, and symptoms will sometimes differ drastically and often overlap. This may take the form of food avoidance, obsessive-compulsive eating habits, food anxiety, social anxiety or phobia, Anorexia Nervosa, ATypical Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia, Binge-Eating Disorder, Body Dysmorphia, restrictive eating, excessive exercising or dieting, as well as issues regarding self-worth, body image, self-harm or suicidal ideations. If you are experiencing characteristics of an eating disorder, OR you are curious about steps to take in allowing yourself to feel whole-heartedly as a human being; unpacking the physical sensations connected to your lived experiences and the emotions that run deep; questioning and facing the behaviour that makes you feel stuck – reach out, we can help!

Reflect: What could happen if we (re)discovered and (re)established one part of us, a singular personal narrative, one moment in our day to say: “I give you permission to feel your feelings”. To go on narrating, “The next time I experience a wave of embarrassment, fear, sadness, or the next time I am upset, but don’t know why, I can stop whatever I am doing and allow myself to feel my feelings”. I can validate them and say, “Yes, I am angry, sad, etc.” “This is how it feels…” What would happen if you slowly, but surely learned steps to reclaim parts of your body, the feelings, and thoughts that attach to those parts? Remember, that whatever you are feeling is a part of your wholeness as a human being, be brave to experience it fully.

Blog Post by Canadian Certified Counsellor, Cayle Fiala

 

Glimmers

Glimmers

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.

Shine on!

Blog Post by Registered Psychologist, Megan Adams Lebell