Self-care tips for newcomers in Canada
By Maria Montemayor
Posted on November 8, 2021
According to the Canadian Council for Refugees, newcomers show resilience to “the stress of settling in a new country.” They also mention that “spiritual and cultural practices, art, recreation and other non-medical interventions play an important role in promoting positive mental health.” That’s where self-care comes to the forefront. Self-care is about looking after yourself for optimal physical, mental, and emotional health.
People engage in self-care to look and feel healthy, so that they can go about their daily activities with ease and be able to help others as well. Self-care practices also help strengthen the ability to cope with stressors like financial issues or relationship conflicts. You might be wondering, what does self-care require? What does it look like? If you want to get started on self-care, here are some simple first steps.
1. Figure out the areas of care that you are lacking
First of all, it’s important to identify the areas of your life that you are neglecting.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Am I getting enough sleep every night?
- Am I eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day?
- Do I make the effort to exercise every week? If so, do I always do the same exercises or do I try to switch it up?
- Do I spend enough quality time with people I care about?
- Do I make the effort to reach out to friends?
- Do my loved ones know how much I care about them?
- Do I regularly engage in hobbies that interest me?
- Am I pushing myself to learn new skills?
- Do I seek new challenges or opportunities for growth?
- Do I engage in spiritual practices that I find fulfilling?
- Do I find meaning and purpose beyond my daily tasks?
- Do I feel connected to nature and the world around me?
- Am I able to understand and work with my emotions in a healthy way?
- Do I express my emotions in an appropriate manner?
- Am I able to forgive myself and the people who hurt me?
2. Create an action plan
Once you have identified the areas you are struggling with, come up with a plan to best address them. If you struggle to get enough sleep, set an alarm for getting to bed and another for waking up. If you haven’t spoken to a friend in weeks, reach out and ask when they are available to meet. If you enjoy playing the violin, but it’s collecting dust in your closet, pick it up, tune it, and practice it when you have spare time.
If you think there are too many areas to work on, you can start off with three self-care practices, prioritizing which ones you think would be most impactful. Let’s say you would like to make exercising, engaging in hobbies, and forgiving yourself and others the top three self-care practices. Here’s an example of what your plan can look like:
- On Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., I will do pilates at home.
- On Thursdays, I will attend an in-person Zumba class from 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m..
- On Tuesdays, I will spend time sketching from 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m..
- On Fridays, I will journal about why I have trouble forgiving myself and others from 6:00 p.m. to 6:40 p.m..
If you want to forgo the specific timeframes, you can put the practices on a to-do list and just make sure you complete them before the end of the day.
3. Check in on yourself by the end of each week or month
Before the end of the month, take a look at your plan and see if you have been able to allocate enough time for your self-care practices. Have they become a regular part of your daily or weekly schedule? Do you feel more energized each day? Have they become habitual? Once you notice your self-care practices becoming habits, you can start looking at the other areas that you struggle with, and add them to the self-care practices that you are already doing.
Your self-care practices don’t all have to be activities that you do daily or even weekly. If you only find yourself meeting up with one friend once a month, or engaging in hobbies twice a week, that can still be beneficial for your long term well-being. The more you engage in self-care practices the better you will feel in the long run.