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Protecting the Psychological Health of Those Returning from the Earthquake Area

Those involved in search and rescue operations, those who work in various positions, and those who provide voluntary services in the earthquake area are affected physically and psychologically.

It is normal to experience compulsive feelings and thoughts to arise after returning from the field. In this case, the following symptoms can be observed:

Physical: Fatigue, sleep disturbances, appetite changes, headache, muscle pain, etc.

Emotional: Burnout, helplessness, inadequacy, restlessness, anger, depression, anxiety, hopelessness, etc.

Behavioral: Social withdrawal/isolation, increase in alcohol and substance use, neglecting self-care, not fulfilling responsibilities, repetitive thinking about the traumatic event, avoiding things that remind the traumatic event, etc.

Cognitive:  Difficulty in attention, difficulty in decision-making and problem-solving, insensitivity to what is happening in the environment, inattention, disengaged moments, difficulty in remembering experiences about the earthquake, etc.

What can you do to cope with the psychological and physiological difficulties that you experience?

1. Notice What You Experience: Realize you are going through a complicated process. Observe what your challenging psychological and physical experiences are.

2.Take Care of Your Physical Health:  Physical and psychological health are interrelated. "To heal and continue to help, both need attention."

For your physical health;

Pay attention to your diet, do not stay hungry for a long time, and try to consume healthy foods. Remember to drink water.

During this period, you may lose sleep or sleep too much. Try to sleep as regularly as possible. Before going to bed, avoid devices such as computers, phones, and televisions that will disturb your sleep.

Take care of your needs, such as showering and brushing your teeth.

Increase activity in your daily life (like walking instead of waiting on the escalator or choosing to walk short distances).

Avoid alcohol and substance use.

3. Be in Solidarity: Communicate with your friends in the field. Do not hesitate to share your thoughts and emotions with your teammates who have similar experiences with you.

4. Consider Social Support:  Spend time with your friends, loved ones, and family.

5. Take Time for Yourself: Remember what you value in your life and what is important for you. Then, take your time to do these.

6. Recognize Your Limits and Limitations: You may blame yourself for what you didn't do or failed to do and think, 'I could have done more'. Realize that this guilt is about what you care about in life, helping people and relieving their pain. The gap between what you want to do and what you can do may disappoint you. Remember that you have certain limits and limitations in this process.

7. Continue Your Life: Of course, it may not be possible to return to your routine life immediately after what you have been through. However, continuing your daily life has the effect of improving both your mental and physical health. Try to return to your routines gradually.

8. Get Professional Help: Stress responses are expected to decrease over time. However, if you have trouble coping with these feelings and thoughts after a few months and this situation has started to affect your daily life, you can get help from a mental health professional.