Finding value in self-care

For many people, the term “self-care” means a vacation on a tropical island or getting pampered at a spa. Even though I enjoy traveling and deserve a deep-tissue massage, self-care looks a lot different for me these days.

As a full-time graduate student, an intern for Sports Illustrated, a waitress at TGI Fridays and a lab supervisor on campus, my days are long and my “free” time is limited. The reality is—my schedule is busy and my grades are a priority, but so is my self-care.

You must be wondering, How does she manage to balance all of this? There is no trick; my self-care has come with sacrifices. These days, something as simple as a bubble bath with candles lit, a chlorophyll face mask or a trip to the nail salon are realistic and achievable. 

I’ve learned to find peace and happiness in the simple joys of life. And even if I dedicate my Tuesday mornings to catching up on beauty rest, instead of the weekends like most people, it is okay because that is what works best for me.

Taking care of yourself does not always have to consist of an extravagant trip or an expensive appointment. More often than not, you can do something in the comfort of your own home and get the same effect.

Now that I am halfway through earning a master’s degree in broadcast and digital journalism (BDJ), I’ve learned to value free time differently than I did as an undergraduate. As an undergrad at San Jose State University in California, most of my free time consisted of off-campus parties or nightlife in San Francisco.

Today, those experiences are the least of my concern. Right now, my focus has shifted to ways I can reset my mind outside of the classroom, prioritize school work and take advantage of opportunities that will set me up for success before, during and after graduation. 

I think it’s amazing what experience and time will do. You learn to value the present differently when you understand how precious time truly is. Now that the fall semester is over, I look back and reflect on how efficient I have been wearing many hats and planning my days, accordingly. Finding time to try new recipes or meal prep for the days ahead is another form of self-care I truly enjoy.

I am taking better care of myself now, despite having more responsibilities, than I did as an undergraduate student because I am more cautious of how I use my time. Prioritizing yourself requires discipline and with discipline, you develop a change in your lifestyle that’s suitable for you. While the term self-care is subjective to everyone, I’ve learned to create ways to incorporate it into my life efficiently. 

Finding time to incorporate self-care is very difficult in the Newhouse program; the curriculum is intense and it’s designed to prepare graduates for real-world experiences.

Newhouse BDJ graduate students work under tight deadlines, go out into the field to produce packages, report live and complete a capstone experience in Washington D.C. Considering our program’s schedule (which began the week after the July 4, 2021 and ends in August 2022), self-care often takes a backseat to our education.

Knowing what I know now, I would advise my peers to take one day at a time, give yourself grace and find ways to incorporate self-care into your life wherever and whenever you can.

Writer Darcie Ortique

Darcie Ortique is a graduate student in the broadcast and digital journalism program at the Newhouse School.