Glimmers & Triggers

Welcome back to my blog! I have spent the past few blogs explaining, defining and talking about childhood trauma. Once we fully understand what it is and the effect it has on a child, then we can begin to help them and understand them. In this blog, I want to discuss “glimmers and triggers.”

Most people understand what trauma triggers are, but just in case lets break it down. Triggers are anything that might cause a person to recall a traumatic experience they have had. Some examples include images of violence, songs, smells, noises or places. For example, when a student goes through the trauma of parents who scream and become violent with one another. The child may be triggered by someone yelling or someone raising back their hand as if they are going to hit them. Another example could be the smell of cigarette smoke, certain type of perfume, alcohol, or a particular odor that can trigger an unpleasant event. When these triggers occur and the child reacts, it tends to throw them back into that exact time when the trauma happened to them. Therefore, they may exhibit fear, anger, sadness, completely freeze and shut down, panic attack, or try and escape or run away from the situation.

     On a brighter note, let’s talk about trauma glimmers. Glimmers are small moments that spark joy or peace which can help our nervous system to feel safe or calm. This mind shift can make a positive change on our mental health. Some examples are seeing a picture of your favorite place, seeing a picture of your pet, warmth of sun feeling, being in nature, thinking of a loved one, or seeing a rainbow. Glimmers are the exact opposite of triggers, and in our overstimulated worlds, glimmers can be the answer to regulating ourselves.

Many times, when we feel overwhelmed, it is caused by being overstimulated. It is a very helpful technique to remember the glimmers in your life and that are all around us. Some people when faced with anxiety or stress may want to light their favorite candle and sit in their favorite spot. Some may want to walk out in nature and take in the beauty of the grass, tress, flowers, etc. Others may want to pet or play with their pet, remember when they were at their favorite place, or think about their favorite hobby and how they feel when they are able to do it. The things that bring you joy and help calm you are your glimmers, and we all have some! So, let’s put them to use the next time we feel overwhelmed, overstimulated, stressed or anxious. We can use this technique ourselves and we can teach kids to practice this as well. 

Martha Hollingsworth, LPC

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