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  • Alyssa Abrahamson

Discover Your Glimmers: Finding the Opposite of a Trigger

The word "trigger" has become part of our societal vocabulary as trauma becomes more openly spoken about. We’re primed to feel triggers and encouraged to know what our triggers are.

Key to the conversation around learning what activates us, both into states of survival, and into states of calm and safety, are something called “glimmers.”

The term glimmer was coined by Deb Dana, licensed clinical social worker who specializes in complex trauma. In her book The Polyvagal Theory in Therapy she writes,

"Glimmers refer to those small moments when our biology is in a place of connection or regulation, which cues our nervous system to feel safe or calm.”

Essentially, glimmers are the opposite of triggers!

Glimmers are rooted in polyvagal theory, which helps us understand the impact of the autonomic nervous system on our mental health. We have 3 states that we move in and out of:

  1. Sympathetic state, which is our “fight or flight” response

  2. Dorsal vagal (parasympathetic state) which is our disconnect, collapse, shut down response

  3. Ventral vagal (parasympathetic state) the state of safety, connection and regulation

While "triggers" activate either the sympathetic nervous system or the dorsal vagal branch, "glimmers" activate our ventral vagal branch, which is where feelings of groundedness, connection, safety, and mindfulness exist.

Common glimmers include:

  • Experiencing moments in nature (e.g. the sun on your skin, smelling the ocean or seeing a rainbow)

  • Petting animals or cuddling a pet

  • Gently rocking your body

  • Humming

  • Connecting with a stranger

  • Wrapping your body in a cozy blanket

  • Taking a deep breath in while smelling a flower

  • Hearing your favorite song unexpectedly

Often glimmers pass right by without us taking note. But understanding how the nervous system impacts mental and emotional health can inspire you to actively pay attention to your glimmers.

With this in mind, let’s set an intention to cultivate mindfulness around glimmers.

*A Glimmer Hunting Exercise*

  1. Set a goal of finding 1-3 glimmers a day

  2. Intentionally savor glimmer moments

  3. Notice, enjoy, and be with any pleasant emotions and sensations this brings

Let's celebrate our glimmers. Comment below and let me know what your glimmers are.

Love, Your Wellness Coach,


P.S. If you need help figuring out where to start with your nutrition, health, and feeling good in your body, EMAIL ME to set up your wellness consult call.

P.P.S. Listen to podcast episode 148, "Discover Your Glimmers: Finding the Opposite of a Trigger."

October 25, 2023


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