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Triggers Are Out And ‘Glimmers’ Are In

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

Life is full of triggers, which at times can steal the joy out of our lives. A trigger, according to NAMI, is an experience that can evoke an unpleasant emotional reaction. Oftentimes, this might look like something that brings up childhood trauma. It can even be as simple as something trivial that disrupts your mood. When this happens, it’s easy to fixate on and allow it to consume the moment. 

Deb Dana, a licensed clinical social worker, coined what seems to be the opposite of a trigger. She called this concept a “glimmer,” which is a “micro-moment” that elicits a feeling of safety or calmness. She states that it doesn’t have to be a grand phenomenon, but rather a small moment that gently regulates the nervous system. According to Dana, glimmers are thought to have the opposite effect on our bodies that triggers do. Rather than setting our bodies into unpleasant states of anxiety or withdrawal, glimmers may reduce distress and allow us to feel a sense of calmness. 

Upon learning about glimmers, I immediately began to notice them more. There are plenty of small moments throughout the day that allow me to take a moment to appreciate certain experiences and situations. For example, one day this week I was sitting at a long red light. I was ready to get home after a long day out, and I was feeling impatient. I noticed a pedestrian walking alongside his scooter, which held a plant. I thought it was cute that he was wheeling his plant around, wherever he may have been going. To me, that was a glimmer in an ordinarily mundane situation. 

I decided to challenge myself to notice more glimmers throughout the day. I wanted to see if this could improve my perception of the world. So, I took to my little notes app and got to being mindful. Here are some examples of the glimmers I noticed throughout the days: 

Sunday: The excited meow my cat makes as I unlock the door to my apartment.

Monday: The change in air between the end of September and the beginning of October. 

Tuesday: Turning in an assignment I worked hard on. 

Wednesday: Liking a poem I wrote. 

As you can see, these are seemingly small and relatively “unimportant things.” To me, they were pretty moments I noticed. As I recorded these, I realized they helped me to be more mindful of the nice things that go on around us. It’s so easy to get caught up in the everyday trials and tribulations of being a human. Still, life is kinda cute when you pay attention. 

If you’re reading this, I challenge you to record glimmers in your days. Even if you don’t write them down, see if you can notice them or even seek them out in your ordinary situations. Perhaps it will help you to appreciate the mundane like it did for me. 

Abigale Darnell (she/her) is a student in Psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Creative Writing. She has an interest in holistic wellness, female empowerment, fashion and pop culture.