We’ve all heard the success stories of the world’s best traders. These are printed in newspapers and shared online, and everyone who runs into them is likely wishing in secret that they’d chosen a life of trading.
What isn’t printed in the papers or shared online as often are the pitfalls of trading, specifically those relating to stress.
The almighty market never stays put, not even for a second. In order to gauge its tendencies and identify an opening for profit, a trader must always be on their toes. This makes stress an unavoidable, even natural aspect of the job.
While it’s easy for a trader to be consumed by the stress related to their work, there are also practices they can implement which will directly help them deal with it. Managing stress is a lot of work, but neglecting to do so will be far more difficult to deal with in the long run.
Sources of Trading Stress
Traders tend to report three main sources of stress:
Failing to meet expectations: if you’re not prepared for the market’s inevitable lack of cooperation at a given point, the resulting stress can really have an impact. Whether the goals are personal or workplace targets, failing to meet them takes its toll.
Managing uncertainty: in most jobs, people have some sense of what the day will bring. For traders, things can change drastically in a matter of seconds. This environment demands that a trader be constantly on their toes and in the right mindset to respond to sudden change-ups.
The possibility of failure: making the most out of a trade can lead to considerable profit. On the other hand, making the wrong call can lead to huge losses without proper risk management. Trading is always a risk, and the looming possibility of failure can quickly overwhelm an unprepared trader.
What All Successful Traders Have in Common
While successful traders come in all types and persuasions, they each seem to share one common characteristic: a deep passion for education. Arrogance in trading not only isn’t good for business, it simply doesn’t make much sense. In this field, one must always respect (and, to a small degree, even fear) the mightiness of the market. We can’t control it; we can’t move it physically – all we can do is pay attention to it, and try to learn.
Be Patient and Humble
Patience is, always, a virtue – especially when it comes to day trading. Don’t think that you can outsmart the market because that’s impossible. If the market has a brain, it isn’t one that we’re built to understand. We can imagine, for a moment, that the market is somewhat conscious. If so, it seems to reward traders who don’t bypass pertinent steps needed for success, and it punishes those that do. Have a long-term picture in mind, but focus on getting there by taking things one action at a time. Focus on controlling what’s in front of you rather than the market as a whole, because that’s impossible.
Don’t Focus on What You Can’t Control
There’s a lot that you can control when trading – and there’s a lot that you can’t control in any sense of the word. Trading is like flying a kite on a windy day. You can influence the movement of the kite to a certain extent, but in the end, the wind will take it wherever it wants to. Understand this, and you’ll stop wasting your time on what you can’t control, and focus your efforts instead on what you can. Do so for a while, and you might find that most of your trading stress was directed at uncontrollable factors.
Get Into a Workout routine
How does consistent exercise factor into trading success? It doesn’t do so directly, but by ensuring that you’re at your peak physical condition, you’ll be able to face the challenges of day trading head on. Being in good shape does more than ensuring physical health – it also allows your mental strength to be in its prime, making it less difficult for you to shrug distractions and external stresses away so that you can stay focused on trading. Of course, this business tends to produce its share of tension, and there’s no better way to let out some steam than to dive into an intense workout.
Balance Work and Life Accordingly
Due to the ever-shifting nature of markets, and with impactful events happening everywhere in the world at all times, it’s easy for trading to dominate a person’s life if they aren’t wary of the risk. Indeed, if there’s one job that can be defined as “all-consuming”, it’s day trading. You can find success in your trading pursuits and lots of it, but you’ll need to set boundaries. Without doing so firmly, you’ll always be magnetized to your phone or computer screen to check for updates.
For traders who work mostly from home, the danger of being consumed by the profession is even greater, since there’s no physical separation from home and work. A good practice is shutting the phone off for a few hours every day. You can also make a point of not thinking about or discussing work during certain times, such as family outings. Balancing work and personal life are essential to making it as a professional, long-term trader.
Relax – You’ve Earned It
As a hungry trader, your natural instinct is to view all relaxation time as a potential loss of profit. As natural as it may be, it’s best to do away with that persuasion forthwith. Making a point of regularly diffusing from trading is absolutely critical. Aside from exercising and finding the balance between business and personal life, you need some time allocated specifically for yourself.
Choose whatever hobby or activity you prefer, ensure that it has absolutely nothing to do with trading, and do it daily. This can be a simple meditation session, walk in the park, or model airplane crafting. Whatever you prefer, as long as you find relaxation and complete disconnection from trading – that is, until it’s time to trade again. By that point, you’ll be fully prepared to respond to the demands of the day.