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LightAngel's Musings

  • Writer's pictureElisha LightAngel

Self-Care VS AfterCare

Updated: Sep 10, 2023

A picture of a woman drinking tea and reading a book with a photo frame around it and a caption reading "my self-care moment".
My self-care moment

What is Self-Care?

We call it self-care but most of the time we are actually practicing aftercare. What do I mean by that? Self-care is proactive and preventative, while after-care is reactive and focused on recovery.

Self-care refers to the activities and practices individuals engage in to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional well-being to help avoid feeling tired, burned out, and sick. Self-care includes activities such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, managing stress, practicing mindfulness and meditation, engaging in hobbies and interests, and spending time with loved ones. These activities are designed to help individuals maintain their physical, mental, and emotional health, prevent illness and injury, and improve their overall quality of life. These are thing things we do to set our future selves up for success.

A guy in a corner covered with post it notes.

What is Aftercare?

Aftercare can sometimes be the same activities and practices prompted as a response to feeling tired, burned out, or sick. Aftercare is when we realize something is wrong and are faced with no other option but to do something about it. In the medical world, aftercare refers to the support and treatment individuals receive after medical or therapeutic treatment. Aftercare can include acts of self-care but is almost always a result of not having proper self-care in the first place.

Our bodies require nutrition, rest, and time to get in touch with our inner selves. Our minds require downtime, creativity time, and connection to the community. Our soul requires a connection to the spirit, to the divine, or to something that lights us up. When one area suffers, the other areas suffer and it leaks into the rest of your life.

Everyday is a fresh start written on a notebook
Every Day is a Fresh Start

Self-Care vs. Aftercare Comparisons

Here are some examples of actions done with self-care in mind vs. actions taken as an after-care need. Think of things you could add to your own self-care vs. aftercare columns as you read over these. It can help you evaluate where you are and how you are approaching these acts to meet your needs.



Taking a bath because you planned it for body care and meditative purposes.

​Taking a bath because your body hurts so bad it has become mandatory to feel better.

Taking a day off to rest in the way that fills your cup.

Taking the day off because you are burned out and your body refuses to let you do more.

Incorporating fruits and veggies in your diet to assist the body in optimal function.

Incorporating fruits and veggies in your diet because you are feeling ‘under the weather.’

Practicing meditation to help keep the nervous system balanced and have a more peaceful flow to your day.

Getting quiet because you are tired of all the noise around you.

Choosing when you say “yes’ or when you say “no” to a person, situation, or opportunity in life.

​Feeling overwhelmed and not knowing when to say “yes” or “no” and then having an emotional episode.

Get the picture here. The same action can be taken but the reasoning behind it can vary and that creates either a self-care practice or an after-care practice.

Are you practicing self-care or aftercare?

If you want a boost, I have a FREE Self-care Toolkit checklist you can use to create your own Self-Care Toolkit. GRAB YOUR FREE SELF-CARE TOOLKIT CHECKLIST HERE!

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