financial wellbeing

Coping With Stress and Finding Financial Rhythm After Diagnosis

financial anxiety financial wellbeing Sep 26, 2022

Illness adds stress to our lives and our bodies in countless ways, from the physical pain and stress that chronic illness causes to the mental turmoil that a diagnosis brings. Stress impacts both our physical and mental health and builds tremendously when a new diagnosis or physical challenge suddenly appears in life. According to resources published by CAMH, long-term stress can even increase your risk for both mental and physical health conditions. However, with purposeful effort, we can manage and ultimately prevent stress over time.


Coping with Stress in Life Transitions


New health challenges and life changes can cause more stress overall, and how we choose to cope with that stress is essential. A new diagnosis can disrupt our everyday life so drastically that our usual coping patterns don’t cut it. Sudden changes in health can overwhelm us in ways that cause even more stress in our once-easy routines. Illness can also shake up our financial lives tremendously. It’s important to know that you’re not alone if you struggle with managing stress, even in ways you might have handled better before. 


Compounding Stress of Chronic Illness


Chronic illness often leads to chronic stress. While many remember the importance of managing physical stress in new ways, it’s essential to find ways to manage the compounding stress on our minds as well. Intentionally setting new rhythms to support our mental health and wellbeing is just as crucial as building routines that help us cope with physical stress and illness. Even starting with a simple pause and moment to breathe in the middle of stressful situations can begin changing the rhythm of stress in both body and mind. 


How Financial Stress Compounds Chronic Illness


Stress compounds, whether caused by a health diagnosis, financial stress, or strain in our relationships. The more stress compounds in our lives, the more it impacts our ability to live fully according to our values and pursue what brings us joy. Creating new rhythms and finding better ways to cope with stress can build a more fulfilling life, and it starts wherever you’re at, right now.


Adjusting to Chronic Illness or Diagnosis With a Financial Therapist 


Most of my clinical work has been in the medical setting, where I support patients and families through an adjustment to illness. It is a privilege to walk alongside someone in a time of extreme stress and provide them with listening, support, guidance, and education. In the medical setting, I serve a lower socioeconomic marginalized population whose illnesses are compounded and likely instigated by stress related to their chronic poverty. According to an article published by the NIH, a growing body of evidence indicates that effects of poverty are linked to physical and mental health. We need much more research, attention, policy change, and support around stress as a social health determinant. I will continue to advocate for this population and work hard to be accessible to all socioeconomic levels in my work as a financial therapist. You're not alone if you’re facing illness compounded by financial stress. And there are ways to find a better rhythm to life on the other side of diagnosis.


Creating New Rhythms 


Finding better ways to cope with stress starts with being open to a new rhythm of life. When we purposefully create new habits, rhythms, and routines for ourselves, we can use these patterns to help us naturally create a better sense of wellbeing throughout our day. Finding new rhythms that support your physical and mental health can feel daunting, but you can start small and build better coping mechanisms over time. Starting with simple breathing exercises, getting outside for a mindful walk, or taking time to sit in nature can help lower stress levels and greatly benefit your wellbeing. We all start somewhere.


Building Your Financial Wellbeing


Your financial wellbeing is just as important, and money worries can majorly contribute to chronic stress. Finding better, less stressful ways to handle money is vital, especially when dealing with compounding stress from health concerns. A great start is to lay out all your financial assets and responsibilities. Once you have a good grasp on your financial situation, you can begin building a budget more aligned with your values in life and eliminate the fear and stress of the unknown in your finances. Set a monthly money date for yourself or with a partner to review and adjust your money plan over time. Consider online resources or getting help from a financial therapist who can help you build a new foundation through big life transitions.


Support Network: Family, Friends, and Financial Therapy


Who you surround yourself with for support is essential for your physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. As life changes, your support network might change unexpectedly as well. Facing a new diagnosis or chronic illness can strain our regular routines and relationships. As you move forward, creating a better rhythm of life after diagnosis, it’s essential to fill your life with people who encourage you and support you through life’s transitions. Positive connections with family, better rhythms with your partner, good friends who encourage your financial resilience, and finance professionals who support your healthiest version of success are all critical factors of a good support network. As you begin building your new rhythms, find support in the network around you to remain accountable to your goals and encourage you every step of the way. 

For more tips on building financial wellbeing after diagnosis, check out my Chronic Illness Checklist. For those looking to build a better relationship with money, consider financial therapy to kickstart your journey today. 

Questions: email [email protected]

Mariah Hudler, MSW, MBA is a health and wellBEing social worker who provides premarital financial counseling, financial therapy, and financial wellbeing services. She works with individuals, couples, and entrepreneurs to build their balance and create a healthy relationship with money. 

Disclaimer: This blog is for education only. Please consult with a qualified professional when you have any questions about your personal financial, tax, or legal situation. Information contained in this post is for informational purposes only and not intended to replace professional advice.

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