The month of February is celebrated in the form of PHEbruary, a series of events put on by Peer Health Educators (PHEs) in the freshmen dorms on campus. Starting on the first day of February, many PHEs began sending out wellness tips and challenges to their residents, encouraging them to be engaged in self-care and compassion for others.
Several PHEs said that they try to keep the challenges simple and doable for freshmen who are already struggling to adjust to the stressful winter quarter at Stanford.
“I’ve been trying to figure out different ways to have little everyday tasks — things that won’t take too long but can really have a meaningful impact on your day,” said Joy Obayemi ’15, the PHE at Larkin.
Examples of tasks have included saying “hi” to five strangers, giving someone a hug who you’ve never hugged before, writing down three things that you’re grateful for, and going to the gym for thirty minutes.
“Each challenge is something that helps them be more mindful of themselves. So that could be physical wellness, mental wellness, emotional or nutritional wellness,” said Jessica Hernandez ’16, the PHE at Cedro.
In addition to the challenges and regular activities such as Tea with the PHE, PHEs have been holding extra health and wellness events in the dorms. Residents in Arroyo participated in a discussion about mental health.
Brianna Brown ’16, the PHE at Serra, brought speakers for “Check Your Boobies”, a talk on breast cancer awareness. She and her fellow staff member also held a “Blogilates” session after a dorm meeting where dorm members relaxed through practicing yoga and pilates.
Despite the hectic nature of winter quarter, PHEs mostly expressed having a high rate of participation from freshmen in the tasks and the events.
“I’m actually surprised about the amount of interest from the early get-go,” said Lindsay Fiorentino ’16, the PHE at Donner.
Brown, however, expressed some frustration over the lack of participation from many of her freshmen residents.
“It makes me really sad especially since [my residents] complain about me sending emails,”she said. “The whole point of PHEbruary is to kind of come up with the healthier things you can do, like being grateful because studies show if you have a positive outlook, you’ll be better off… It’s sad that [many of] my freshmen can’t see that.”
Although the way they interpret PHEbruary varies, most of the PHEs decided to keep a point system, recording which residents partook in which tasks or events. Fiorentino, however, wanted to avoid competition.
“I really wanted this PHEbruary to be for those who want to gain from it for the right reasons, not for a challenge purpose but really for themselves,” she said. “And everyone wins at the end of PHEbruary!”
At the end of the month, the freshmen who get the most points will be given a special award.
“I hope that PHEbruary just makes people stop and think. And it’s not a matter of doing [the tasks] everyday, it’s just a matter of remembering to take care of yourself despite all the craziness and the business around us, especially during this quarter,” said Odayemi. “To have self-care and self-compassion on the mind is really what PHEbruary is about.”
Contact Sevde Kaldiroglu at [email protected]