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  • Grace Dowd

Finding Glimmers When Life is Tough

Life is busy and you’re having trouble finding room to breathe. You’re overwhelmed, overworked, and stay in a state of stress. As human beings it’s normal for our brains to gravitate towards worst case scenarios because our brains are designed to keep us safe rather than to keep us happy. This means that when we are in a state of stress or overwhelm we have less capacity to look for the good, and instead are on high alert searching for signs of danger. We then are engaged in a stress cycle that contributes to our stress and overwhelm, feeling stuck, and wondering why we can’t seem to catch a break.



It can be hard to look for the good when there are many factors stacked against us. The point is not to invalidate or gaslight ourselves into thinking/believing that everything is fine and we shouldn’t be experiencing stress. The point is for us to bring balance into our experience. If all we are feeling and experiencing is stress and overwhelm, then we may not ever achieve a state of calm or resolution while perpetuating that cycle. It’s also a way to affirm that we deserve to experience peace, calm, and joy in our lives, even when things are difficult.


What we can do is look for the glimmers. This term is from Polyvagal theory, which focuses on nervous system regulation and proposes different “states” that our nervous system enters into. A glimmer is what will bring our nervous system back into balance and into what PVT calls safe and social, or the ventral vagal state.


So what is a glimmer and how do I find one?


A glimmer is the opposite of a trigger. Think of phrases like “a glimmer of hope.” Glimmers are small, micro-moments or experiences that activate the part of our nervous system that brings about joyful and calm feelings. A glimmer is not a specific idea or set of experiences, as it can be unique to each individual. A glimmer could be noticing the smell of fresh cut grass, feeling the sunshine, listening to or smelling the rain, feeling your cat purr, petting a dog, or anything else that sparks feelings of joy or calm.



It’s important to truly take a pause to notice these glimmers and notice how you feel as you observe them. Glimmers work and are helpful because they are simple and easily accessible. Starting your busy day with the intention of looking for a glimmer can be a great place to start. It might be as simple as noticing the sun coming in through the window while you are in business meetings all day, or the smell of your coffee in the morning before leaving. We can always find a glimmer and take a micro-moment to appreciate it.



Glimmers are a great place to begin resetting your nervous system and find a foundation to build upon for creating new experiences that are full of toxic stress. As you notice a glimmer each day, you will begin to hold a collection of glimmers and find yourself noticing them more often. As with anything, the more frequent that we do it, the easier it is to search for a glimmer. It becomes second nature and a part of our daily routine.


What glimmers will you notice today? Tell us in the comments below!


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