All About The Beauty Of 'Glimmers' In Everyday Life

When it comes to mental well-being, mindfulness can be really useful to help navigate the challenges or the good moments in everyday life. Mindfulness consists of shifting a focus to the present moment, being conscious or aware of your thoughts, your feelings, and your body, especially when recognizing how your body may react to something. It is a therapeutic technique usually used to help combat and balance stress, depression, addiction, or anxiety (via WebMD).

When facing a variety of life experiences, your body may respond with an emotional reaction. Triggers are known to be cues around you that will alert you of what your body will perceive to be a threat. During this response, the body activates two branches of your autonomic nervous system. First is the sympathetic nervous system leading you into fight or flight mode. Second is the dorsal vagal system which can cause you to freeze or shut down. Triggers are often associated with a negative experience or trauma, so when faced with perceived danger, emotions like anger or distress can happen when triggered (via Trusted Journeys).

On the other hand, you may also positively react to something you face in your day to day. These are known as glimmers, which are usually cues of something that brings you joy and makes you feel safe. A reaction to a glimmer activates the ventral dorsal nervous system in your body that helps you feel relaxed and more open to the world around you, according to Trusted Journeys.

What exactly are glimmers?

Glimmers bring a sense of happiness or safety and are therefore known as the opposite of a trigger. Unlike a trigger that may have a more rooted issue connected to it, glimmers don't always have to be a part of something bigger. They can actually happen in any way, big or small. Recognizing and embracing a glimmer can also be beneficial for people who experience triggers or come from a place of trauma.

Licensed clinical social worker, Deb Dana, coined the term "glimmers" in her book "The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy," where she identified glimmers as a time when your body's biology is in a place of regulation or connection. "The thing I love about glimmers is that, working with trauma survivors, it's so respectful of their suffering," Dana tells USA Today. "It allows them to understand that their biology is wired in a way that we don't discount the trauma or the crisis or the ongoing suffering, but we recognize that their biology is exquisitely set up to be able to also notice the micro moments of goodness." Glimmers can be valuable to anyone. Embracing them creates a pattern of positivity that can better serve you both in the present moment and in the long term.

What do glimmers look like?

Glimmers can be anything that essentially makes you feel good. Feeling a sense of safety and connection is perhaps the most beneficial part of embracing a glimmer. They can be different for everyone because everyone experiences joy differently. Petting a puppy, seeing a loved one's smile, or even listening to your favorite song can be a glimmer. "You feel something happen inside," licensed clinical social worker Deb Dana tells USA Today. "There's an energy that happens around a glimmer, and then your brain then marks it as well."

Therapist Sara Stanizai tells TZR that glimmers can help shift your focus to the good in your life, which will then help you see more of it. Much like positive reinforcement, she says that constantly recognizing the good can help be encouraging to you. Embracing a glimmer can be extra helpful when things begin to feel challenging, too. "Glimmers are intangible rewards for your nervous system," Stanizai tells TZR. "Think of it as a gold star for your nervous system."

They can happen organically, but you also hold the power in your hands to create a glimmer tailored to you because you know yourself best. For example, when you feel any tension, simply take a few deep breaths. Doing so helps regulate your nervous system. Creating a glimmer can also look like making time to hang out with your friends or loved ones that bring a positive reaction, or a glimmer, out of you. Maybe you love painting, going for a nature walk, or drinking a warm cup of tea to help ground you. Do more of what feels good for you to encourage more glimmers to occur in your daily life.