Coping with the Aftermath: Emotional Healing in the Wake of the Syria and Türkiye Earthquake

15 Feb ‘23
3 min
Stress and anxiety
Editorial Board OpenUp
Two women supporting each other
The recent earthquake in Syria and Türkiye has left most of us in disbelief and has resulted in widespread emotional distress. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and sad in the face of such devastating news and events, and it’s important to give yourself time to process these feelings and take care of your mental and emotional well-being.


The impact of natural disasters on our emotions


When an earthquake strikes, it can bring a lot of fear, confusion, and stress. As earthquakes often happen without warning and can leave individuals feeling powerless, they can trigger feelings of helplessness and a loss of control. This is especially difficult for those directly affected by the earthquake, who may have lost homes, loved ones, or their sense of security. Furthermore, earthquakes have long-term effects on both individuals and communities, leading to displacement, financial hardship, and ongoing emotional trauma.


Six techniques to help you cope better emotionally:


1. Acknowledge and express your emotions: it’s okay to feel sad, angry, or scared. Allow yourself to feel and express these emotions in a healthy way, whether that’s by talking to someone, journaling, or expressing your feelings through art.


2. Connect with loved ones: reach out to friends and family, and let them know how you’re feeling. Talking about your experiences with people you trust can help you feel less isolated and provide a sense of comfort and support.


3. Take care of your physical health: make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying active. Taking care of your physical well-being can help improve your mood and reduce stress and anxiety.


4. Be mindful of the amount of news and information you’re consuming: while it’s important to stay informed, watching the news constantly can be overwhelming and add to your stress and anxiety. Try to limit your exposure to the news and take breaks if you start to feel overwhelmed.


5. Find ways to help: helping others can provide a sense of purpose and help you feel more connected to your community. You can donate to organisations that are responding to the earthquake, volunteer your time, or even simply reach out to a neighbour, friend or colleague in need. The earthquake has affected us all in different ways, but by coming together and supporting each other, we can begin to heal and find hope in the face of such tragedy.


6. Seek support: If you’re feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope on your own, don’t hesitate to seek support from a mental health professional or support group. You don’t have to go through this difficult time alone.


👉 Consultations with our psychologists are available in twenty-two languages, including Turkish & Arabic.

Helping loved ones from afar


If you live abroad and have loved ones who have been directly impacted by an earthquake, it can be an especially difficult time. The distance from your family and friends, combined with the news of the destruction and loss of life, can be overwhelming and leave you feeling helpless.


In this situation, it’s important to reach out for support from friends, family, or a mental health professional. Taking care of yourself and seeking support from those around you can help you manage your emotions and stay connected with your loved ones during this difficult time.


🫂 Remember, it’s okay to take things one day at a time, and it’s okay to not be okay. Everyone’s journey through this tragedy is unique, and it’s okay to take the time you need to heal and process your emotions. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you need it, and always be gentle and kind to yourself as you navigate this time.


 Get informed

The below links are useful sources of information regarding the current situation in Türkiye and Syria and are reliable local initiatives to donate to.


  • UNICEF: Unicef is ready to provide humanitarian aid: to provide shelter for families without a roof over their heads, to supply clinics with medicines and equipment, to restore sanitary facilities, and to set up temporary classrooms for children.
  • International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is already working in both affected countries. In Türkiye, Turkish Red Crescent teams have been deployed to ten provinces with stocks of food and basic relief items. In Syria, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent is on the ground supporting search and rescue operations and providing first aid. 
  • Doctors Without Borders: Doctors Without Borders’ teams are mobilised, particularly in Syria. The NGO has provided immediate support to 23 health facilities in Idlib and Aleppo governorates, donating emergency medical kits and providing medical staff. A needs assessment is also underway in Türkiye.