Running on Empty

My gas tank is sitting below 1/8th of a tank as I type, something I never let happen. I hear the words of my Dad encouraging me to always keep the tank at half full and how that helped me the day I got stuck on a local highway for hours.  

Many of the family caregivers I speak to are looking for ways to have enough for everyone in their life and perhaps at the end of the day, and as necessary, for themselves. I think of the parallel of the gas in my tank to the emotional and physical fuel we all have. At what point do we run out and can’t go any further? 


The life of being a family caregiver can have emotional highs, but the lows are powerful, often running in the background throughout your day. Emotions that can be tough to navigate, perhaps your feeling isolated, lost, and perhaps ashamed to ask for help or don’t know where to turn for help. Your ‘tank’ can’t keep going without some form of a fill-up and your ability to have clear thoughts and energy to help your loved one isn’t there, either. 

My emotional gas tank can get low when things start piling up. So I ask myself; what can I do at this very minute to make a change? Sometimes it’s a considerable shift, others it simply makes a distraction just long enough to pull me out of the mind rattle. If even for a few moments, it can still make a difference. 

Some days the only escape is taking the garbage out, and even with that take an extra a minute. Stop; take a few deep breaths, listen to the birds chirping, look at the clouds or stars in the sky, and just let yourself turn off. 

There can be issues in all of our lives that we feel we have no control over, most truly we don’t. Just do your best, with intention. Take a few extra ‘pause’ moments. Fill up your tank with whatever can give you that extra mileage safely, and keep going. THIS moment is truly all any of us has, and THIS moment is where you start.




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