Why should you notice Glimmers more often?
Awareness Life Style

Why should you notice Glimmers more often?


Have you ever experienced that warm feeling spread in your body for a few moments after you see a rainbow, or maybe feel the sun on a chilly winter morning, maybe along with some hot chocolate? Have you felt your mood shift to a more positive one for a while after such experiences? Such moments are called glimmers.

What is a glimmer?

Glimmers are brief moments, experiences, interactions, or resources of safety, connection, and positive engagement that remind us of the beauty and joy in the world. These micro-moments often stop us as we go on about our day and help make us feel settled and present in the moment. They evoke a sense of safety, goodness, and well-being.

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Glimmers versus Triggers

While a lot of us might not be familiar with the term ‘glimmer’, we are all familiar with the term ‘trigger’. Triggers are those people, places, situations, or things that create a sense of danger, often stirring up emotions from traumatic and distressing past experiences. Such stimuli are typically linked to disorders such as Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Triggers are the exact opposite of glimmers. Unlike glimmers, triggers are easy to identify because they evoke observable bodily changes, like the activation of nervous system defences such as fight, flight, or freeze. On the other hand, glimmers are harder to identify because of the subtle physiological responses they result in.

Read More: Recognizing Your Own Triggers

Neuroception is the activity or process of our subconscious system scanning our environment constantly for cues of safety or danger, indirectly also influencing our physiological system. Porges (1995), in his polyvagal theory, explained how the autonomic nervous system, particularly the vagus nerve, continuously searches for and reads cues to determine if they are dangerous.

This difference between glimmers and triggers could be understood using the polyvagal theory. Further, it could be elaborated by thinking of the activity of the nervous system in the form of a ladder. In the ladder imagery of nervous system states, at the bottom, we can find the freeze state. In this state, one often feels paralyzed or immobilized. In this state, the dorsal vagal nerve circuit is activated. As a result, we experience feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness, or numbness. We cry, isolate ourselves, feel dissociated, and engage in little activity. Bodily changes such as having cold skin or a slouched posture might also be apparent.

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Moving up the ladder, we find the fight or flight state, wherein the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This is the state where we feel motivation, anger, and anxiety. We might choose to run away or confront the stimulus we are faced with. For either of the responses, our body prepares itself to engage in physical movement. At the top of the ladder, we find glimmers. In this state, the peripheral nervous system, or the ventral vagal circuit is activated. This circuit is otherwise known as the “safety circuit” and facilitates social engagement and safety. The resulting cascade of physiological responses gives rise to our most human qualities such as empathy and connection. One could find themselves showing an open posture and a steady heart rate in this state. The activation of the peripheral nervous system also facilitates homeostasis.

Read More: Empathy vs Sympathy: Understanding the Difference

More reasons why you should notice glimmers

These subtle and profound moments are internal or external cues that bring individuals back to a sense of joy and safety and regulate their nervous systems. This helps in facilitating not just emotional but also physical wellness. Due to the continuous activation of the peripheral nervous system, while noticing glimmers, there is a reduction in the risk of disease.

1. Help in dealing with triggers

The social worker Deb Dana who popularized the term ‘glimmer’ through her book The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy: Engaging the Rhythm of Regulation in 2018 highlighted that glimmers might not heal us of our triggers but can help us deal with them better.

2. Effects on the brain

Finding and noticing glimmers can help build neuroplasticity. This is because each time we consciously acknowledge a glimmer, we are reinforcing the same neural pathway that encourages feeling safe and well. Eventually, this becomes a conditioned response leading to not merely a temporary lift in moods, but also a sustainable shift in the baseline neurological state. Further, the more you notice glimmers, the more they start to naturally appear, and the stronger the neural pathways become.

Read More: 10 Mood Boosters That Are Absolutely Free

3. Stress management and resilience

While noticing glimmers, our body acts in a direction opposite to our usual stress response. We are engaging in mental regulation by fighting off negative emotions and experiencing more positive emotions. In such cases, it evolves into strategies of resilience and stress management, guiding the individuals back to a state of balance and well-being.

4. Enhanced self-awareness

It also gives rise to heightened self-awareness, mentally and emotionally. There is a sudden burst of inspiration, motivation, and clarity that leads to different perspectives. This helps in creatively solving problems and connecting with the world outside in novel ways. An additional benefit would be the resultant increase in productivity, not just in workplaces but also in general life.

5. Quality relationships

When we make it a habit to regularly experience it, we feel secure and centered. We view the world as a safer place to be a part of. As a result, we are more open to connections. Our positive approach and conscious practice of finding glimmers also encourage us to find the positive qualities and traits in others and be appreciative of them. This facilitates meaningful relationships and strengthens the connection we share with other people around us.

How to start noticing glimmers?

Here are some tips that would help you notice glimmers and make it a habit.

  • Reflect on what or who excites you or makes you feel safe, centred, and “at home”. Actively seek out these experiences.
  • Record your glimmers by taking pictures of them, doodling, or writing about them in your “glimmer journal”.
  • Surround yourself with people who have already developed the tendency to experience it regularly.
  • Be patient with yourself, but always celebrate your progress, even if it is not much.
  • Think of ways in which you can engage other loved ones in finding more glimmers.
  • Set an intention to spot a certain number of glimmers every day.
  • Practice mindfulness. Go on mindful glimmer walks, maybe?
  • Be grateful for what you already have.

In conclusion, noticing glimmers is a cycle where you keep noticing more and more positive cues that make you feel safe and secure, and eventually make you healthier physically, mentally, and socially. However, you must take the starting step. So, this is your sign to start noticing glimmers. Together, let’s lead a thriving culture with positive health outcomes.

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References +
  • Amft, T. B. (2023, May 8). Glimmer: How to trigger feelings of joy and safety. Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-glimmer-5323168
  • DiGonis, E. (2023, July 10). Discovering Glimmers | CPTSDfoundation.org. https://cptsdfoundation.org/2023/07/10/discovering-glimmers/
  • Marter, J. (2023a, October 17). Discovering your glimmers: finding moments of joy. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/glimmers/
  • Marter, J. (2023b, November 6). Finding light in the darkness. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/mental-wealth/202311/finding-light-in-the-darkness
  • Maxwell, V. (2023, October 1). How to grow glimmers and feel less anxious. Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/crazy-for-life/202309/how-to-grow-glimmers-and-feel-less-anxious
  • Neo, P. (2023, September 14). Tired of triggers? Seek out glimmers to inspire & nourish instead. Mindbodygreen. https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-are-glimmers
  • Rawlinson, A. (2021, August 1). Feeling Stressed? Getting to Know Your ‘Glimmers’ Could Help — Therapy with Abby. Therapy With Abby. https://www.therapywithabby.co.uk/blog/glimmers-and-triggers
  • Sowinska, K. (2023, October 17). What are glimmers and how do they work? – Silver Lining. Silver Lining. https://silverliningtherapy.co/what-are-glimmers-and-how-do-they-work/
  • Taylor, S. (2023, October 3). Glimmers: How Micro-Moments Can Re-Shape Your Nervous system and Wellbeing. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/glimmers-how-micro-moments-can-re-shape-your-nervous-system-taylor-/
  • Weatherhead, E. (2023, October 3). How Glimmers Can Boost Your Mental Health. KMA Therapy. https://www.kmatherapy.com/blog/how-glimmers-can-boost-your-mental-health
  • Wilson, J. (2023, August 15). Glimmers are the opposite of triggers. Here’s how to find them in your life. HuffPost UK. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/glimmers-are-the-opposite-of-triggers-heres-how-to-find-them-in-your-life_uk_64db4ccfe4b01e7cf0274eac

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