Coping with change

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Immigrating is not easy. Some people had to wait for years to get the results of their applications. Others had to go through traumatic events like being forced to leave their homes, running away from war, or being persecuted. These experiences leave emotional scars which we carry while learning a new culture, language, and environment.

All these cause stress. According to clinical psychologist Dr. Arpita Biswas, everyone feels stress, especially in their jobs. However, immigrants have to deal with many things at the same time. For example:

  • Trying to fit in a new environment
  • Not having family or social support
  • Financial stress
  • Different ways of raising children
  • Cultural conflicts
  • Racism and discrimination (real or perceived)

These things can lead to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and depression.

Stress can cause a lot of issues if it is not managed. It can lead to physical illness, substance abuse, and even problems in relationships. If you or someone in your family is feeling stressed or depressed, here are some ways to cope:

  1. Communicate

  2. It can be hard to talk about our problems. But it is the first step to finding a solution. You can talk to your family, friends, counsellor, or religious leader. You can also join a newcomer support group. This is a group of people who are in the same situation as you. You can find one near you by contacting your nearest immigrant-serving organization. These organizations help newcomers settle in Manitoba.

  3. Stay positive or at least, realistic

  4. It’s best to focus on one issue at a time and be gentle with yourself. You can start working on improving your language or skills, or building your personal and professional networks right away. Don’t forget to celebrate your small successes. This can motivate you to keep striving. Never let negative thoughts take over. It will make it harder for you to make good decisions.

    Your Mental Health and Well-being, IRCC.

  5. Take a break

    Give yourself time to relax. Here are few suggested activities to help your body and mind recover:

    • Exercise
    • Go for a walk, do breathing exercises, meditate, or try yoga. Doing physical activity can make you feel better. It can raise your endorphin level. Endorphins are natural chemicals that reduce stress and make you feel good. You can find stress-relief exercises on Youtube.

    • Pick up a hobby
    • Visit your community centre and check out the activities they offer. You can also join newcomer conversation circles or your community library’s book club to improve your English, or get involved in your church’s activities. If you’re in Winnipeg, check the Leisure Guide for free activities. Aside from these, many organizations offer programs to help you stay healthy, learn English, or gain new skills. These are posted at library and community bulletin boards, at settlement service provider organization websites, and on the Your English Online Facebook Page.

    • Volunteer
    • Helping others can help you get some perspective, allow you to practice your skills, or learn new ones. Read 5 steps to applying successfully for a volunteer position to help you get started.

    • Read inspiring stories
    • Reading about the experiences of others and how they overcame challenges can inspire you. You can find these stories online, or start with livelearn’s newcomer stories.

  6. Connect with a settlement service provider

  7. Settlement Service Providers all over Manitoba offer a wide variety of services for newcomers. They are experts at understanding newcomer needs and would be able to recommend great programs for you and your family. Most of these services are free.

  8. Seek professional help

  9. Extreme stress can lead to depression. If you need more help, seek the assistance of a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist. Remember, there is no shame in seeking professional help. You can ask for a referral from any settlement service provider, call the Mental Health Crisis hotlines, or inquire from the Aurora Family Therapy Health Centre.

    Article updated January 24, 2023.

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Community Resources

Need online and over-the-phone help? Here are Amazing mental health resources during COVID winter for you.

Get the updated Mental Health resource guide on the Canadian Mental Health Association page.

For more resources on emotional/mental health, also read the article Caring for your mental health.

The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has many services and resources on its Community Mental Health page.

The Hope for Wellness Helpline is available 24/7. Call 1-855-242-3310 for counselling available in English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut. Online chat is also available in English and French at

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Coping with Change

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