Submission:

Hi PHEPs,

Things have been super stressful this semester and trying to juggle my COVID concerns with my stress over school has started to become really difficult for me. My friends keep telling me that it’s alright to take a break and they keep urging me to go out, but I can’t help from feeling hesitant about seeing bigger groups of people. After spending the last break day studying in my room, I’m realizing that I really do need to find a healthy way to destress and take a break. How can I take a break from my work and have fun with my friends without feeling like I’m putting my health at risk?

-Stressed and Overwhelmed

Reply:

Hi Stressed and Overwhelmed,

Thank you for submitting this wonderful question! We’re sorry to hear that this semester has been such a stressful toll on you and that you haven’t been able to take a proper break.

Firstly, we totally empathize with your struggles in trying to navigate the stresses of your classes and the ongoing COVID situation. It can definitely feel overwhelming and finding ways to destress can sometimes seem challenging. Your friends are right, taking breaks can be essential to helping us manage our stress and keep our spirits high. However, you are totally valid in having reservations about seeing your friends in person and wanting to prioritize your health. If the ways in which your friends are hanging out seem unsafe or uncomfortable to you, it might be easiest for you to suggest some alternative ways of socializing! Now that the weather is warming up, an outdoor socially distanced picnic could be a great way for you to see your friends. There are also plenty of virtual games that you could play over zoom as well! If you want more ideas of fun and safe ways to socialize, check out the safe socializing page on PHEP website or go to our instagram! It is also important to remember that social events and gatherings are not the only way to take a break. Taking time to yourself and exploring any of your personal hobbies and interests can be great ways to destress as well.

The PHEPs will also be having COVID-safe virtual and in person events planned for the upcoming break days that you should definitely consider checking out. If you’re looking for a change of scenery, we’ve compiled a great list of locations on and off campus that you can visit on your break days.

Finally, if you feel like the stress is starting to take a negative toll on your mental health or you just want to talk to someone about your concerns, there are many resources available on campus to help you do so! We’d recommend checking out the Yale Mental Health and Counseling Website or the Walden Peer Counselors. You can also visit the Yale Well Website for more wellness resources.

Whether you find a safe way to hang out with your friends or just take time for yourself, we hope that you can take advantage of these upcoming break days to give yourself a chance to breathe! Thank you so much for reaching out and don’t hesitate to follow up with us if you have more concerns!

-The PHEPs

Submission:

Dear PHEPs,

Is it unreasonable that my housemates insist that they don’t feel comfortable having anyone in our huge kitchen/living room with a mask on, and that they insist on being in another part of the house (upstairs)? My girlfriend comes by a lot to cook and eat together in our apartment and every time she comes over, my housemates just spend the time upstairs and insist on the two of us just being in my room. I also live in this space. Am I not entitled to at least 1/3rd of the kitchen / living room area just as much as they are?

-Space Sharer

Reply:

Hi Space Sharer,

Great question, thanks for submitting it! We’re sorry to hear that it’s been so frustrating trying to ensure your needs are met within your house.

The short answer is no, their perspective is not unreasonable, but neither is yours. Navigating household disagreements can be especially difficult when there is a majority opinion. You’re right—the space is just as much yours as it is theirs, which is why it is important to have a household conversation where you can all have a forum to share your thoughts on the situation and come to a clear compromise about your different COVID comfort levels. For example, you might want to explain why having that quality time with your girlfriend at your house is so important to you and ask them what additional precautions you could take to do that safely. Maybe you can work out a compromise in the form of a schedule where they are out of the house whenever your girlfriend comes over. Hopefully, you can help them understand why you want to use household spaces beyond just your room when she’s there, and if your housemates still don’t want to be around when you two are together, don’t take it personally. It seems like they are just very concerned about COVID and want to take as many precautions as possible, and if that’s what makes them feel comfortable, that’s totally fine as long as they also respect your needs and boundaries. As long as you are keeping up with your regular twice-weekly testing and adhering to other parts of the community compact, you can keep transmission low and keep your housemates, and yourself, safe!

Our friends, the Communication and Consent Educators (CCEs) made an awesome guide for conversations around roommate boundary setting that you might find helpful. Good luck with your conversation—remember to be honest and understanding and hopefully all should go well!

-The PHEPS

Submission:

Dear PHEPs,

The other day, I held an hour-long a cappella rehearsal with only 2 guests in my suite’s common room. In the middle of our practice, one of my suitemates burst into the room and said that everyone needed to leave. I tried to explain to them that we had no other choice but to hold indoor rehearsals because of our upcoming show and the winter weather, but they kept insisting it wasn’t COVID-safe, even though we were socially distant and wearing masks.

The worst part was that my roommate stood there silently the whole time and didn’t even try to advocate for me even though they clearly didn’t have an issue with our rehearsal. It’s frustrating because they know how much singing means to me and how hard it has been to do it during the pandemic. Is it just me or is it unfair for my suitemate to decide to kick my guests out of our suite? How would you have reacted in this situation?

Sincerely,

The Masked Singer

Reply:

Hi Masked Singer,

Thank you for writing to us! We’re sorry to hear that you had such an upsetting experience and didn’t feel like your roommate had your back in that situation. While it’s justified for your suitemate to want to set that boundary based on their feelings about COVID, they definitely could have handled the situation more gracefully.

Even though your gathering adhered to the guidelines in the Yale Community Compact, singing, in particular, is still a higher-risk activity. Singing spreads six times more aerosol droplets than talking and is roughly equivalent to coughing. Though wearing a mask can significantly reduce the number of aerosols emitted, it does not eliminate them completely, especially when singers are practicing for prolonged periods (i.e.greate than 30 minutes) in an unventilated space.

Either way, it sounds like your suite has not had an open conversation about setting unanimous COVID-related ground rules and your roommate was put in a tough spot at that moment. Our friends, the Communication and Consent Educators (CCEs) made an awesome guide for conversations around roommate boundary setting. We suggest you talk to your suitemates to let them know how you felt and get their perspective. Chances are they didn’t intend to disrespect your or your guests, but rather, wanted to ensure the health and safety of the suite. If you have an open conversation about the guest policies of the suite they still do not serve your needs, you can find alternative spots to hold rehearsal (i.e. another group member’s suite) or switch to virtual practices in the future. Hope this helps!

Best of luck,

The PHEPs