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Self-care vs. After-care: The Importance of Self-Care to Maintain Positive Mental Health
Mental Health

Self-care vs. After-care: The Importance of Self-Care to Maintain Positive Mental Health

By Marquita Harris, LMSW
Posted: May 26, 2022

Self-care has been a hot topic of discussion over the last couple of years in the mental health field, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. Self-care is important; however, knowing the difference between self-care vs. after-care is more important. When I was speaking to a friend, she mentioned that she needed a self-care day after having a long stressful week. As we continued to talk, we realized that technically that wasn’t “self-care” but more of “after –care.” I concluded that some people may confuse the two, including myself.

We have to change our perspective regarding self-care and start to utilize it before we encounter stressful events so that self- care can be sustainable. So exactly what does this mean? Essentially this means that we should use self- care techniques daily, weekly, and/or monthly to ensure that we are maintaining positive mental health.

There are categories of self-care to assist with maintaining positive mental health. According to Northstar Transitions, self-care includes physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual. Northstar Transition breaks down each one:

Physical self-care

  • Drinking enough water
  • Eating nutritious foods
  • Exercising or doing yoga
  • Getting enough sleep (7-9 hours)
  • Not pushing your body past its limit

Mental self-care

  • Setting boundaries
  • Doing puzzles
  • Meditating
  • Self-reflecting
  • Reading or listening to a book
  • Keeping a journal

Social self-care

  • Writing a letter to a loved one
  • Going to lunch with a friend
  • Hosting a night with friends
  • Spending time with your pet
  • Taking part in a book club
  • Calling a relative you haven’t spoken to in awhile

Emotional self-care

  • Opening up to a trusted friend
  • Cutting ties with toxic people in your life
  • Going to therapy
  • Practicing forgiveness
  • Showing kindness to yourself and others

Spiritual self-care

  • Making a list of your values
  • Reflecting on the important things in life
  • Spending time alone
  • Practicing positive affirmations
  • Being in nature


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Now that we have discussed some self-care techniques, be sure to use them daily, weekly, and/or monthly to ensure that self-care is sustainable and you gain the full physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual benefits offered.

The Employee Assistance Program is a benefit to you and your household members. EAP provides confidential, professional assessment, referral and brief counseling services to you and your dependents. It is paid for by your employer. The EAP is now offering in-person visits and the continued option of telehealth. Contact Methodist EAP at 901-683-5658 to set up a session to learn self-care techniques to assist with maintaining positive mental health.

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Marquita Harris, LMSW

Behavioral Health Screener

Marquita Harris is a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW). She received her bachelor’s degree in educational psychology at Mississippi State University and her master’s degree in social work at the University of Memphis. She has over five years of experience working with children and adults in community mental health and seven years of experience in child welfare, where she investigated severe cases of abuse, neglect, and fatality cases in Shelby County. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

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