Stress Antidotes for the Day Trader
Successful day traders have a life outside the markets. They close out positions, shut off monitors, and go do something else with the rest of the day. As you plan your life as a day trader, think about what else you’re going to do with your days. Exercise, meditation, socializing, and having outside interests are keys to maintaining balance and staying focused on the market when you have to be.
Exercise: Exercise keeps your body in shape so that you can stand up to market stress and react to trends when you need to. Many times when you’re trading, you have huge rushes of adrenalin that you can’t do much about. You have to stay in front of your screen until the trade is over, no matter how much you want to run away screaming.
But after the trading day, you can hit the track or pool or treadmill and burn off some of that adrenalin. Figuring out a regular exercise routine can pay off for your trading.
If you aren’t an exerciser now, call your local YMCA. It has introductory programs that can teach you how to use the equipment and help you design a workout that suits your current fitness levels and goals.
Meditation: When you are trading, you may have trouble staying focused on the task at hand. Good traders can keep their minds clear of everything but their trading system, especially when the markets are at their hairiest. One way to develop that discipline is to take up meditation. It may seem goofy, but if you have trouble keeping your focus, you really may want to take it up.
There are an almost infinite number of meditation styles, so you can surely find something that works. Research compiled by the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the National Institutes of Health show that many people report mental health benefits from meditation.
Check out the instructions for the Buddhist mindfulness meditation practice as a way to get started.
Friends and family: Day trading is a lonely activity. You work by yourself all day. It’s really isolating. If you don’t get other human contact, you run the risk of personalizing the market in order not to feel so lonely. That’s bad, because the market isn’t a person; it’s an agglomeration of all the financial activity taking place, and it has no interest in you whatsoever.
You want to have the support of the people you know and love. And you need to make time for them, too. Be sure to make plans to see people who are important to you.
Going to your kid’s ball game, having dinner with your spouse, and seeing your friends for a few beers on a regular basis can go a long way to keeping your life in balance — and that will keep your trading in balance.
If you like pets, consider getting one to keep you company during the day. There’s nothing like a dog that needs a walk to force you to close shop for the night.
Hobbies and other interests: A lot of people get into day trading because they have long had a fascination with the market. Trading goes from being a hobby to being a living. In many ways, that’s perfect. Going to work is so much easier when you have a job that you love.
So find a new hobby if you don’t have one. Maybe it’s a TV show, a sport, or knitting, but whatever it is, you need to have something going on outside of your trading.
Trading is just one part of your life.