Mentoring Tip – Mind Your Stress
Mentoring is about service. Why, then, should we focus so much on taking care of ourselves? Shouldn’t all our efforts be focused on helping a youth?
Just as caregivers are expected to first don an oxygen mask before offering aid if an airplane loses cabin pressure, mentors need to first take care of themselves. Only when your needs are addressed can you help others. Consider these strategies for being your best:
- Before your mentoring date, get a good night’s sleep and eat well. Take a moment to meditate, if necessary. Visualize positive interactions with your mentee. Give yourself time to follow through on any planning you made during your previous session. Arrive early so you aren’t frazzled just before mentoring.
- During your meeting, be patient and flexible. Ask for time to answer questions. Notice if your boundaries are being pressed. If so, respectfully address this with your mentee. Ask for help from program staff, if necessary. At stressful moments, get into the habit of asking: how can I respond in a caring and safe way that will meet both our needs? Don’t overcommit to any plans or activities that will add too much to your responsibilities.
- After the session, give yourself a pat on the back. This is important work. Notice any things you said or did that felt particularly productive, and take note too of any positive changes in mentee behavior or attitude, even tiny ones. Make notes so you won’t forget ideas for next time. Until then, plan fun and deep meaning into your personal life so you can share happiness with your mentee.
Use Grand Area Mentoring’s self-care assessment to evaluate your habits. If you feel overwhelmed or dissatisfied, see program staff. If you identify larger areas where you need support, please ask friends, family, and professionals for help.