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Spotting Glimmers ✨ Instead of Triggers

October can be a tricky month for me, as it’s filled with triggers that make me feel like I’m navigating a field of emotional landmines. But recently, a dear friend, who radiates positivity and reality like a beam of sunlight, introduced me to something called “glimmers.” Let me catch you up on this fantastic concept.

Glimmers are those small, magical moments that ignite joy or peace, giving our nervous system a nudge toward safety and calm. They serve as cues that we’re in a secure and soothing environment. Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in using the Polyvagal Theory, introduced this concept. You can bet I’ll be adding this book to my must-read list along with my romance novel obsession. She explains that glimmers are essentially the opposite of triggers, which activate our body’s stress response and can lead to anxiety or distress.

But here’s the kicker: Glimmers aren’t just about happiness. They can also usher in ease, relaxation, a sense of security and connection, or simply make the world feel alright, even if just for a moment.

So, from now on, whenever a trigger rears its head, I’ll be on the lookout for a glimmer. Recognizing and embracing glimmers in our daily lives can have a positive impact on our mental health. These moments can create a sense of well-being and resilience, even in the face of challenging circumstances.

Glimmers come in various forms, ranging from simple everyday pleasures to more profound experiences. It could be moments of connection with loved ones, enjoying nature, or engaging in activities that bring happiness.

Deb Dana’s work on glimmers is closely tied to the Polyvagal Theory, which explains how our autonomic nervous system responds to social interactions and stressors. Glimmers activate the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting relaxation. Umm, yes please! So, by consciously acknowledging and savouring these moments, we can enhance our resilience and better cope with stressors and triggers.

Now, let me share a few of my own personal glimmers so you get the idea (plus a little glimpse into my weird and wonderful life):

  • Driving in the rain on the highway, passing under a bridge. It’s that fleeting moment when the bridge shields me from the rain and there’s serene silence. This fills me with pure joy. And the bonus? My son knows how much it means to me, so he eagerly points out upcoming bridges when I’m shuttling him to and from hockey practice.
  • Catching my son in the rearview mirror, his eyes following cars passing by.
  • Those moments when a patient I’ve been thinking about suddenly appears on my schedule, like the universe’s way of saying hello.
  • This one’s a bit quirky, but my son loves it too. When I turn off the BBQ and hear that satisfying “pufft” as the gas shuts off — music to my ears.
  • The one most satisfying glimmer moments for me is crushing shells on the beach. Particularly dried crab shells, oh, oh, this one is my all-time favourite. It brings me a deep connection to my earthy self that often gets lost in the concrete jungle of the city.
  • Sticky notes or love notes hidden in places I’ll stumble upon. My husband has a knack for placing them in my romance novels, which then become delightful bookmarks. Double glimmer!

If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m weird. I know, I can handle it.

But my wish for you, my friend, as we transition into autumn, is to make the choice to focus on spotting glimmers instead of triggers. 

I’m curious about your glimmers. Hit reply or share them with me next time you’re in the clinic. Let’s celebrate those moments that bring us joy and peace amidst life’s challenges. 


Sara Ward

Sara Ward

Step into my world, where the momentum of our combined energies makes healing contagious.



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