Using social media as a health-promoting tool against stress
By: Alisa Samuel
Published on: January 23 2023
Compared to men, female newcomers tend to experience more loneliness due to language and informational barriers, cultural differences, and the cost of modern living.
Through interviews with 35 adult newcomer women from all over the world, researchers studied the cross-cultural adjustment of these women to Toronto, Canada’s most populous city.
In this day and age, more and more female newcomers are arriving here to enter the workforce. The participants of the study felt the pressure of working unskilled, low-paying jobs—the only kind of jobs that are usually available to them. Generally, for anyone—immigrants and non-immigrants—the workplace is a major source of stress. Stress may lead to depression and anxiety disorders, worsening any pre-existing health conditions you have.
Without the knowledge of how to get about their new place of residence, some women were too scared to even go outside. They didn’t feel confident enough to ask strangers on the street for directions, if needed.
Focusing too much on the negative feelings that come with resettlement, the female newcomers realized that they needed to better manage stressful mental processes—for the sake of leading healthy and productive lives.
In her 2020 study, Zulfia Zaher, an Assistant Professor in the College of the Arts & Media at Central Michigan University, found that newcomer women to Ontario—the country’s most ethnically diverse province—use social media to enhance their sense of wellbeing. Why? The main reason being access to a community.
Facebook, as it turns out, is not just a way to keep ties with people back home. The website also connects newcomers through virtual communities. Virtual communities are online spaces where emotional support is available to any newcomer dealing with the growing immigrant problem of loneliness. You can post questions about your resettlement experience and read responses to your posts at any time.
Participants in Zaher’s study found social communities on the Internet by searching up “a combination of words such as newcomer, women, Canada, Toronto, Ontario, GTA, immigrants, refugees, and non-profit.”
There are, however, obviously surveillance and privacy concerns, especially for women, when it comes to engaging with social media and having an online presence. The Surveillance Self-Defense guide tells you how to protect yourself on social networks. The guide is available in several international languages.
Excessive use of social media is also bad for mental health. So, make sure to get out into the real world and practice your communication skills through face-to-face conversations. One way to practice English language training is through Toastmasters.
As pointed out by Zahar, newcomer women can access these three resources and join their Facebook groups:
Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto
This award-winning non-profit organization is “more than a school, employment, or settlement agency.” It’s also a community that empowers women to become financially independent, build personal networks, take political action as citizens, and stand up for themselves.
Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto offers women-only English classes, teaches on how to navigate the city, find a community health centre, and get a job with workshops in resume-writing and interview prep.
Newcomers to Canada
Newcomers to Canada is a private group on Facebook that has almost 20 000 members. Its administrators seek to ensure a positive environment wherein you can connect with other newcomers going through similar situations as you.
Newcomer Centre of Peel
This multi-service charitable non-profit organization is funded by Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada, a department within the Canadian government that is responsible for immigration matters. It serves the region of Peel. Peel is made up of three municipalities in Toronto: Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon.
If you’re looking for advice on settlement issues, volunteer opportunities to gain Canadian work experience, or permanent employment, give Newcomer Centre of Peel a try.