5 questions to care for your caring fuel tank

How you care for yourself will enable you to keep caring without ‘burning out’, or ‘wearing out’! You need to ensure you refill your caring fuel tank.

wrecked car Keith Wickramasekara unsplash resize 2

Your caring fuel tank

A car needs fuel in the tank to run. To keep the car running you regularly need to add fuel and when you go for long drives you purposely fill up the tank so that the car will make the distance. You should operate in the same way. Your health habits and daily decisions, attitudes, relationships, activities, stress management, rest behaviours and activities either fill or drain your fuel tank, and the effect multiplies over the years.

As a person who supports and encourages others you will find your fuel tank is drained by the act of caring, combined with your not so healthy behaviours, and is filled when you practice self-care. To last the distance in caring and avoid compassion fatigue you need to be able to determine the level in your tank, identifying what is draining you and what can fill you.

5 questions to help you care for your fuel tank

1.  How do you recognise you are running on an empty tank? (the worksheet has more questions to help you with this)

2.  What drains your tank? (stress, activities, people, health behaviours, attitudes)

3.  What fills your tank? (rest, activities, hobbies/leisure, people, health behaviours, attitudes).

4.  Where can you get support from, to either fill your tank or stop it emptying out? (debrief, supervision, friends)

5.  What resources are available to you to either fill your tank or stop it emptying out? (boundaries both professional and personal, referral agencies for you or others you care for)

Filling your tank

As someone who cares for others you need to be proactive in filling your tank, not just waiting until it is nearly empty. To fill your tank you need to not only identify what fills it (question 3) but ensure you practice it. This requires a commitment of – time and energy.  You have to prioritise self-care.

Bill Hybels, founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Church and Willow Creek Association, in his book ‘Simplify’1 lists five keys to replenishment; things that can fill your tank:

  • Connecting with God
  • Family
  • Satisfying work
  • Recreation
  • Exercise

So the last, bonus question is how can you build more tank filling into your life to keep your caring tank full?

Putting legs on it

Looking at the answers to your questions, what action do you need to take today to care for your caring tank? Can you identify one step you can take?




Wayne Cordeiro’s  book ‘Leading on empty’ and  ‘A new hope for a stressed out life’  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9FupWEEMSA (starts at 38 minutes)

Rest can help keep your tank full. You can download ‘A little book of rest’ a short book about rest and how to do it below. Contains Christian content


  1. Hybels, B (2014) Simplify, Hodder & Stoughton, USA p 17-26

Photo credit: Keith Wickramasekara www.unsplash.com

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