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Gratitude & Glimmers

Gratitude & Glimmers

We all know that Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude (hopefully we’re practicing gratitude year round, just an extra dose in November).

But what exactly are glimmers?

It is a term that has recently become popular on social media but it is actually rooted in Polyvagal Theory, (which is about our autonomic nervous system, especially the vagus nerve, and the regulation of our response to cues of stress, danger and safety).

Glimmers are the opposite of a trigger: triggers activate the nervous system igniting fight, flight or freeze while glimmers calm the system. According to polyvagal theory, glimmers are cues that move the body into a ventral vagal state, which is where we experience the feeling of safety and connection.

Gratitude is when we feel thankful for the positive aspects of our life.

It is such an important practice but one that is often overlooked as simplistic. However, there is plenty of science that supports it’s beneficial effects.

The key to a gratitude practice is to really connect with the feeling in your body of appreciation and gratitude. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a small thing like finding a good parking spot, the benefit comes from really taking a moment to feel the emotion of gratitude.

Another benefit of this practice is helping us get out of our heads and into our body more. Yes, you can just think about what you are grateful for, and there is some benefit to that, but the real bang for your buck comes from connecting on a deeper level to the feeling.

So what’s the difference between gratitude and glimmers?

A gratitude practice involves connecting with what you feel thankful for in this moment. A glimmer practice involves connecting with what brings you joy, what makes you feel safe, calm and connected.

Noticing glimmers helps to regulate and calm our central nervous system.

Both have significant benefits to our mental, physical and emotional well being and there may be overlap. For example, a glimmer for me as I write this is the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. It makes me feel safe and connected to nature and the changing seasons, but I can also feel grateful for this as well.

You can choose to practice one or the other or both!

Either one will have your mind looking each day for the positive aspects of your life, which helps to compensate for the negativity bias in our brains.

So maybe you’d like to start keeping a gratitude or glimmer journal each day.

There’s no one way to practice these, just pick the format and time of day that works best for you. Maybe you want to discuss it over dinner with your loved ones and share your glimmers and/or what you’re grateful for. Maybe you buy a journal to write down your glimmers each day.

The more you notice your glimmers, the more easily you can calm your nervous system when triggered. Doing it sometimes is better than not at all, often our all or nothing thinking can derail our good intentions by “not doing it right” or “good enough”.

So please give yourself some grace as you build this new routine.

Writing is actually a glimmer for me, helping me feel grounded, connected and calm.

Thank you for reading my blog, I wish you and your family the happiest of holidays!

Kathy Most
Therapist in Westfield, NJ
908-499-5491
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