Anxiety and immigration tend to go hand in hand. The period of transition from one country to another is often not as smooth as most immigrants expect it to be.
If you are a new immigrant facing tough times and dealing with anxiety issues and feelings, the good news is that you are not alone and most of all, this is just a temporary issue. As you start settling in and become more acquainted with the culture, environment and values of the country, your anxiety level will decrease and you will begin to feel more comfortable in your new surroundings.
For new immigrants in a country such as Canada, there can be numerous trials and tribulations and some of the most significant and common causes of anxiety include:
Finding the right job
There is a general perception that being a highly qualified professional from your home country will automatically qualify you for a job in Canada. While this may be true in some professions it can also be misleading for some. Many immigrants moving to Canada have the belief that since they applied for immigration via the Federal Skilled Worker Class, they would find a job right after landing in Canada. They become anxious after realising that their credentials wouldn’t be accepted unless they update their previous education according to Canadian standards.
Most immigrants go through similar situations related to their careers in Canada, causing stress and anxiety. And if they don’t find any remedy for their solution, many think about going back to their country.
Overcoming the language barrier
Many immigrants, especially refugees, become anxious about starting their life in Canada because of the language barrier. Not being able to communicate properly in the language of the majority is stressful and isolating. While the free classes for English language learning are offered to new immigrants, the process of learning the language can add more stress in an already long list of stressors.
The culture shock
Beyond language, sometimes immigrants come from countries with totally different value systems and cultures than that of Canada. Canada has immigrants from Syria, Pakistan, India and other countries who all admit that it is not easy to adapt to a new culture. Parents of young children, in particular, are perplexed about disciplining their children in the new country.
As you may know, Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world. It is only normal that people who migrate from countries with warmer climates feel difficulty in adjusting to the weather, it is made worse if they arrive in Canada in the cold winter months. If they are unable to cope and are unable to get around easily in the harsh winter conditions, it becomes a hindrance in achieving their goals in the country.
Missing social support
Another matter that causes anxiety in new immigrants is that they miss the support network they had in their home country. While there are many support services and resources available in Canada, the missing of family support and ties can also cause strain on an individual in a new country.
Going through financial difficulties
Due to a lack of stable employment and income, financial constraints can become a huge source of problems for new immigrants. Before they know it, the money they brought with them from their home country is gone. When money concerns make them anxious, the unreturned calls from employers add fuel to the fire and make the situation even more difficult.
What exactly can newcomers do to overcome the difficulties above?
- Know the cause of the anxiety – Once an individual knows the reason for their anxiety, they can work on it gradually and systematically. It is important not to ignore anxiety as it often leads to other health issues.
- Have a to-do list – Because as a newcomer, you will probably have many things to take care of, reduce the anxiety by keeping a “to do” list or a day planner at hand. With a preoccupied mind due to various responsibilities, it is easy to forget important things, and this leads to anxiety.
- Keep trying – When things aren’t working as hoped, immigrants can often feel helpless. These feelings of helplessness may lead to doing nothing at all, which can, in turn, increase in anxiety. The key to avoiding such apathy is to keep moving forward, never stop trying.
- Seek help – Don’t be ashamed of communicating your needs and concerns to others. Seek help if you need it. Reach out to neighbours and friends, religious advisors or immigrant settlement counsellors.
- Volunteer – Find opportunities to work as a volunteer, as this will increase your chances of getting a job and will also reduce your anxiety in getting acquainted with the Canadian workplace. You will be able to make friends and increase your networking possibilities.