Stay Healthy and Happy in Canada
Most immigrants come to Canada relatively healthy. Compared to Canadians, newcomers in the same age group are usually more healthy. Unfortunately, the situation changes after 8-10 years – the statistics shows that immigrants develop the same health issues as Canadians: diabetes, weight gain, allergies, heart problems, etc.
Why does this happen? There are several reasons. Food and level of physical activity are the two major ones. Not knowing how to properly use Canadian healthcare system is another reason.
Oftentimes, after a new immigrant arrives in Canada, they soon start feeling sad and homesick. These feelings are normal. They are part of immigration. Almost every immigrant will feel this way. This is stage two of ‘Culture Shock’. Click on “Culture Shock: how immigration feels” and “5 stages of culture shock” to learn more. Culture shock is NOT a depression – this is a normal phase on an immigrant’s journey of adaptation. Many new immigrants are unnecessarily prescribed antidepressants in this situation. These medications do not help with culture shock. A new immigrant needs time and an action plan.
Canadian winters are long and cold. New immigrants need to learn how to dress for winter in Canada so that they can stay healthy in all the seasons (read about wearing layers and other ways to keep healthy in “Canadian winter” section). Winter also means not enough sun – that’s why people need to take vitamin D in Canada.
Food is another big change in a new immigrant’s life. Learning how to choose healthier foods at the supermarket is necessary if you are planning to keep your good health. Read the food labels and be especially aware of the amount of sugar you and your kids are eating in Canada. Find out why some people choose to buy organic and non-GMO foods.
Many immigrants come to this country because they heard that the health care system here is good. It is good but it’s not the best! You need to be smart and know how to use it to your benefit. Read more about how to talk to your doctor (“How to prepare for a visit to a doctor“) and about the system in general.
Every year more and more healthy products are coming to the stores in Canada. Unfortunately, these products are often not very cheap. The cheapest products are often filled with dangerous chemicals. Immigrants, especially women, need to learn how to choose safer cosmetics and cleaning products for home, so that they don’t develop allergies, headaches and other health issues.
There are many natural (not chemical) solutions to health problems. You can do research online to find information on how to deal with them. Some doctors will be happy to discuss the natural cures with you, but others will not. Many Canadians now stay healthy by turning to nature and alternative medicine.
Another thing that often changes in immigrants lives is their level of physical activity. For example, many immigrants walk and bike a lot in their first countries, but stop doing it in Canada because of the winter cold or other transportation being available. If in your first country you used to ride a bicycle or walk everywhere, you need to find an alternative activity in Canada – sing up for a gym, take an exercise class or go for a walk every day. Visit a local park regularly – walking and fresh air will help you feel good.
Your emotional health and your physical health are closely connected. In Canada, your family will become bi-cultural, especially if you have children. Keep your family happy, healthy and strong by communicating with each other (see “Your family after immigration“).
Remember to take care of your health in Canada and you will enjoy a better, happier life in this country.