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5 Mindfulness Tools to Support and Empower Caregivers in the Workplace

Written by Kristin Kilburg, Mindful Education in Healthcare Director, Challenge to Change, Inc.

Kristin leading a breathwork practice during the Iowa Caregivers Conference

"Within 60 minutes, each attendee learned at least one mindful tool that could shift their energy and change their day; all they needed was a little education and empowerment to use their mind and body." ~ Kristin Kilburg

On April 11, 2024, I had the opportunity to present as the keynote speaker at the Iowa CareGivers Conference in Peosta, Iowa. This annual conference is considered a “Reservoir Replenishing Retreat”. It is an opportunity for direct care workers, such as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA), Home Care Aides (HCA), Patient Care Technicians (PCT), Direct Support Professionals (DSP), and Hospice Aides, to be recognized for the work and care they provide to others. 

This free event was made possible through a partnership between Northeast Iowa Community College and Iowa CareGivers, and partly funded by the Telligen Community Initiative and Molina Healthcare.

As the keynote speaker, I was asked to set the tone for self-care for the day. Creating this experience was a highlight of my work as the Mindful Education in Healthcare Director at Challenge to Change, Inc. The experience included a deep dive into five mindful tools that can be used as on-demand well-being support and a gift bag of goodies to enhance the attendee’s personal practice with each tool. Each tool was offered as an option for self-care first, and then offered as a tool to share with the people in need of care.

Within 60 minutes, each attendee learned at least one mindful tool that could shift their energy and change their day; all they needed was a little education and empowerment to use their mind and body. 

5 Mindfulness Tools to Support Caregivers

#1 - Emotions and Physical Feeling Check-In

The first tool was an emotional check-in using Challenge to Change’s emotion chart. I invited each participant to read over the chart, notice if any of the emotion words resonated in the moment, and then asked them to close their eyes. With their eyes closed, they were guided through a short reflection on how often they allow themselves to check in on their own experience and emotions. When they opened their eyes, I asked them to identify and mark on their chart which emotion(s) they were feeling in the moment, and to keep the chart close to continue checking in with themselves as they participated in each of the upcoming mindful tools.

#2 - Gratitude

The second mindful tool was gratitude. The gratitude experience within the keynote consisted of a few components to demonstrate how simple, but powerful, the act of practicing gratitude can be. Attendees split into groups of four and practiced a Gratitude Rampage, a well-loved activity at Challenge to Change!

During this activity, participants take turns sharing things they are grateful for until the timer runs out. It’s a phenomenal icebreaker and connection builder!

After the Gratitude Rampage, the attendees were invited to get a little more personal with their gratitude, and send notes of gratitude to people they work with through Challenge to Change Kindness Grams.

When outwardly reflecting on the experience of writing a note of gratitude to thank someone else, an attendee shared that “it was long overdue,” and the rest of the audience shared their agreement verbally and through body language.

The gratitude experience and audience reflections really hit home for me the mission behind Challenge to Change’s work in healthcare and workplace settings.

#3 - Breathwork

From the tool of gratitude, we moved into breathwork. Breathwork is such a powerful tool for regulating the nervous system, but most people are not aware of the way in which they can work with their breath. I taught five different calming breath techniques, and between the tears, energy shift of the room, and feedback following the conference, it was obvious the audience felt the power. 

#4 - Metta

The fourth tool the audience practiced was Metta. Metta is the practice of sending love and kindness into the world. I chose this tool because Metta is most powerful when practiced on yourself first, and the theme of the conference was for attendees to learn to pour into themselves. Metta is a practice of embodying the mentality of filling your own cup before pouring into others.

#5 - Integration

The final tool was a second emotional check-in to tune into the practices that made the biggest impact. Attendees referred back to their Challenge to Change emotions chart, and I invited them to notice how they felt at the end of the conference compared to the beginning and how the tools they learned and practiced shifted their energy and emotions.

Several people stepped into their vulnerability and shared their experience of how the mindful tools shifted their emotional experience within the hour. When I asked how many people learned a tool during the session they believed they could use to fill their own cup when they are used to filling the cups of others, everyone raised a hand.

That is the ultimate purpose of our work at Challenge to Change in our healthcare and corporate departments - to empower others to become the change. We educate on the powerful tools each individual contains within their own being and we teach them how to leverage those tools to feel their best. When one person feels their best, they can then support others in feeling their best, and mindfulness becomes a domino effect of healing. 

20 Days to Build Your Own Mindful Toolkit Challenge

What is a Mindful Toolkit? It’s a personal inventory of practices that support you in feeling your best. Each day of this challenge presents you with a new tool to practice and reflection questions to consider to determine whether or not the tool felt supportive to you.

By the end of the month, you will have practiced 20 mindful tools that you may choose to add to your own toolkit.

Learn more about this 20-day challenge with Kristin

~ Kristin


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