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Finding glimmers in PTSD and trauma

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi everyone,

So I've been reading about glimmers lately and thought it might be useful for other people too.

Basically the idea is from Deb Dana (a professional in trauma) that tells us that every single person all of the time is looking for signs of safety and danger. Most of the time, we aren't even aware of it but our system is always keeping an ear and an eye out for things that could be dangerous to us.

In trauma and PTSD, we don't have the same baseline of safety- so we're constantly looking for danger more than we need to. Like a door slamming even though it's just the wind. This is why we get jumpy even though we might know that we are ok now.

So glimmers- intentionally finding ways to know that we are safe.

Some of the ones I can think of and find is cuddling my dog, smelling a vanilla candle and looking at the plants around my house. and the beach; I always feel safe at the beach 🙂

Is there any you can think of?

7 Replies 7

On The Road
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, romantic_thi3f

This is an interesting concept about feeling safe, I would like to know more about glimmers. 🙂

"....we don't have the same baseline of safety- so we're constantly looking for danger more than we need to" I'm not sure if I understand this one, could you explain more about this?

One strange example I can think of is keeping feet undercover while sleeping 🙂

Community Champion
Community Champion

Romantic thief

thanks for this , very interesting.
my glimmers
i find dancing with scarves with a toddler helped me.

Wrapping myself ,with a hand knitted shawl.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Thanks for the interesting thread romantic thi3f,

for me it’s just being in the present moment….. any thing that grounds me…..


Community Champion
Community Champion


Thank you! Appreciate the feedback and for all of you sharing your glimmers; it's really helped me so I was hoping it would help to post.

On The Road- Ok, sure.

Here’s a bit of a psychology 101 so I hope it makes sense. 🙂

Best example and way I’ve understood it is when we see a bear (totally not an Aussie thing but it’s helped me so go with it!). Our amygdala in our brain is the one that pushes the ‘panic button’. We then go into fight, flight or freeze mode. So maybe we run away from the bear, attack it with the nearest stick, or just freeze.

During this time, our prefrontal cortex is like our thinking brain. But there’s no time to think, so it switches off. There’s no time to decide what’s best and weigh up the pros and cons of what to do.

During this time, our nervous system also changes- our heartbeat races to prepare us and no time to sleep because we have to stay awake.

Mostly, when the trauma and the stress of the bear is over, we get to go back to our ‘baseline’, so we recognise that it’s all over and return to whatever we were doing.
In trauma though, our brains kind of get stuck. So even if there’s no bear, our brains haven’t yet understood that. So we still get jumpy, struggle to think, struggle to sleep.. They are all really useful when we see a bear, but not anymore.

So then the glimmers come in- while our brain is still on alert and constantly pushing that damn alarm button when it doesn’t need to, we get to try and find ways to show us there’s no bear anymore.
So now, while our brain keeps an eye out for noises, in glimmers, we really pay attention to all the times and things around us to show us there’s no bear.

Hi romantic_thi3f,

Thanks for the explanation, now I understand better 🙂

I think smoking is actually one of the most common glimmers...

Hi On The Road,

I'm so glad!

I've been thinking about this post for a few days, but I'm not sure I agree. Isn't it kind of a search for safety? I think smoking itself can help people when they're stressed, but I don't think it would be one of those things around you to say 'hey, I'm safe now'. Kind of like alcohol in a way, that it can calm us down but not in the same way. What do you think?

Thank you (and everyone reading) for being apart of this conversation, I was nervous the thread was going to fade away.


Eagle Ray
Community Member

Thank you, I can relate to this.

Patting a dog definitely helps me. I don’t have my own but have lived with dogs before. The other day a friendly staffy came up to me and licked me excitedly and I gave her lots of pats. It instantly transformed how I felt.

Walking and being in nature is another one for me, much more helpful to me than walking in an urban environment. I feel that nature holds you when you feel alone and nothing else seems to help.

Cuddling up with a blanket on the couch watching a tv show I like with a hot beverage gives me a safe feeling.

I also love photography, especially landscape and wildlife photography, and when I’m doing that I’m completely absorbed in it. Not feeling safe isn’t possible when I’m absorbed in that way.

I read that when our curiosity is engaged, the trauma circuits in our brain switch off, that it’s not possible to be curious and traumatised at the same time.

I’ve had complex trauma since early childhood, so not feeling safe has been my norm, but there are these things which do take me out of that constant hypervigilance.