Coping with change

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The process of immigration is not easy. For many, it may have entailed months, even years of uncertainty, waiting for the results of their application. For others, it may have involved a traumatic experience, such as sudden displacement, or fleeing war or persecution. Newcomers carry these scars as they face new challenges when they arrive in Canada. And in the first few weeks and months after they arrive, after barely having even taken stock of their new surroundings, they now have to cope with a new culture and language as they strive to settle in a new land.

All these cause a large amount of stress. According to Dr. Arpita Biswas, “Stress is a major factor for all and it is usually job-related, but for immigrants, stress can be different. The human mind is the same, no matter where one comes from. The stress of trying to find one’s footing in a new environment; the lack of social and family support; financial stress; different child rearing patterns due to cultural differences; cultural conflicts; along with silent racism and discrimination, can all contribute to poor self-esteem, lack of confidence and depression” (cited from the article “Immigration can be stressful at many levels, but there’s help at hand” from Canada Bound magazine, Oct. 19, 2015). And all these feelings of inadequacy, frustration and sadness can lead to more problems if left unchecked. It could lead to physical illness, substance abuse, and even to marital or family conflicts for some.

If you, or any of your family members is suffering from stress or depression, here are suggested approaches for dealing with change:

  1. Communicate

  2. It can be hard for newcomers, especially for men, to voice out their feelings, but this is the first step towards acknowledging the problem and coming up with a solution. Sometimes, even just the simple act of sharing your worries with your spouse, parent, sibling, or a friend relieves stress. You can also try talking to your pastor, priest, or counsellor who may have some wise words to ease your worries. Joining a newcomer support group can also be beneficial since you share a common experience with the members. You just might find that what you are going through is not that unique, and that you are not alone in your struggle.

  3. Stay positive or at least, realistic

  4. Identify your problems and think of possible solutions. Face your issues one at a time and be gentle with yourself. Take control of the things that you can manage, like improving your language or your credentials, widening your network, or even learning a new skill. Never give in to negativity because this kind of mindset will only pull you down. Thinking that your problems are larger than they really are will cripple you with fear and could stop you from making good decisions.

  5. Take a break

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

    • Do some form of physical exercise
    • Take a walk, do breathing exercises, meditate, or take up yoga. It has been medically proven that physical activity can raise the level of your endorphins, which is a natural chemical the body produces that reduces stress and boosts the feeling of well-being. You can start by following any one of these stress-relief exercises on Youtube.

    • Pick up a hobby
    • Visit your community centre and check out the activities offered there. You can also join newcomer conversation circles and your community library’s book club to improve your English or get involved in your church’s activities. You can check the Leisure Guide for free activities for you and your family. 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 out others who may be needier than you can help you get some perspective, allow you to practice your skills, or learn new ones. Read the article 5 best places to volunteer in Manitoba to help you get started.

    • Read inspirational stories
    • Reading about the experiences of others and how they overcame challenges can inspire you. There are many of these stories online, but you can start with this site’s newcomer stories.

  7. Connect with a settlement service provider

  8. Settlement Service Providers all over Manitoba offer a wide variety of free services for newcomers. They are experts at anticipating newcomer needs based on experience and would be able to recommend great options for you, whether it be for counseling, career mentoring or other concerns you might have.

  9. Seek professional help

  10. If you need more help, especially if your depression is already affecting your ability to function, 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, or call the Mental Health Crisis hotlines, or Aurora Family Therapy Health Centre.

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Community Resources

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 Hopeforwellness.ca.

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Quiz

Coping with Change

Read the following questions and select the best answer for each one. Please note that some questions have more than one answer.

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Coping with change

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