Contending with the variety of student needs — from emotional well-being to financial concerns, basic needs insecurity, mental health struggles, academic questions, family issues and so much more — can be incredibly wearing. It’s often called emotional labor and it’s the type of important work that peer mentors regularly engage in. The boundary between their peer mentor work and rest can become quite porous, as work bleeds into their lives. Emotional labor involves carrying others’ stress and it can blur the lines, making life balance more difficult.

It’s very important that advisors watch out for this in their student leaders. You don’t want them to lose themselves in the process of helping others!

Looking for Balance

One way you can help peer mentors handle the realities of emotional labor is by encouraging them not to back-burner their own well-being. By figuring a more balanced approach, they’ll be healthier individuals and student leaders.

So, in a one-on-one setting or by giving them time to write notes for themselves, ask peer mentors to remind themselves of what makes them feel most balanced when it comes to…

  • Sleep
  • Social Connections
  • Academics
  • Family and Friend Time
  • Emotional Health
  • Exercise
  • Food and Nutrition
  • Unstructured Time
  • Hobbies/Interest 

These types of discussions and reflections can help remind peer mentors of what makes them feel like the best versions of themselves. That way, when they’re in the midst of heavy emotional labor, they can hopefully seek some balance along the way.

Find more information like this within our Peer Mentor Practices: Training, Facilitation & Programming guide.