With everything that is going on in the world markets and the nasty headlines everywhere it’s easy to become frustrated, scared, and overwhelmed which leads to high stress levels which in turns leads to poor trading. This by no means is a comprehensive list, but merely a  reminder of some simple things you can do to offset stress and get back to zero or even tip the scale towards a more zen attitude. I look at this as gentle reminder or suggestions that one can try as it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day activities that consume our time.

  1. Moderate and regular physical exercise that gets the heart rate up. I personally do Reformer Pilates once a week and recommend it to anybody, in addition to other cardio workouts. If you aren’t familiar with what a reformer is click here  to get a better sense of how it works. It’s nothing like mat pilates and far better on your joints if you have any knee or back problems. Whenever I go to class in the evenings feeling slightly tired I always leave with lots of energy and an overall sense of wellness. It’s a great core workout and works a lot of the smaller muscles that connect your bigger muscles that often times are overlooked in traditional workouts.
  2. Deep breathing exercises– one of the simplest is the cleansing breath. Stand with your feet flat on the floor and inhale a deep breathe through your nose, filling the diaphragm first, then the lungs for 4 seconds. Breathing is very important in pilates and I’ve learned a lot about how to inhale the proper way (not using your belly). Remember not to strain yourself while inhaling and hold it for 4 seconds. Then release with another 4 count and repeat the process for a total of 5 times. The benefits helps your metabolism, brain, and your overall immune system by removing toxins.
  3. Sauna– this is at the top of my list partly because it’s something that’s new to me as my asthma has prevented me in the past from enjoying and because I find it relaxes me more than anything else. I didn’t realize there was a process to the sauna, but here is what I have found to be extremely effective. First you take a warm shower and go in for 10-15 minutes or whatever your tolerance can stand. Sometimes it takes awhile to build up your resistance to the heat and it also depends on how hot the sauna is as some people really crank it up. Next go and get a cold shower…really cold and then return to the sauna. This is when you’re really supposed to sweat and have many of those nasty toxins leave your body. One final thing that is extremely important is the rehydrating process. You must drink enough water and in addition to that I add one teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt  to my water and it replenishes many vital minerals that our body needs. You can find the longer list of health benefits by clicking on the link.
  4. Get outside– fresh air, rain or shine, and preferable in nature at some capacity. I like to take my chocolate lab out to the park because nothing beats an excited lab whose favorite thing to do in the whole world is to fetch. It’s impossible to not get happy when you’re surrounded by that kind of energy. If you don’t have a dog, borrow your neighbors’. If you’re allergic substitute (5yr child) everywhere you see the word dog (except the borrowing part) and you’ll get the same result….Here’s one of the cutest pictures of my dog when he was a puppy…yeah..that’s my foot.
  5. Rigby

  6. Meditation – this one was sort of the obvious choice and I almost lumped it within the breathing category because it’s easy to think that all mediation is. And while that makes up a big majority, it’s important to realize that mediation is about shutting out all the outside noise and quieting the mind. Sort of like rebooting your internal computer so you’re able to deal with all the noise that goes on, especially in our industry. Never before has there been so much information available to us as traders and I’m starting to think that the best strategies that we can implement is to start eliminating sites/programs that aren’t essential to you running your trading business. One way to help you meditate is to listen to some calming music while focusing on your breathing, this should help your mind from wandering all over the place. Oh, and if you’re into multi-tasking, while your in the sauna you can meditate and do some deep breathing exercises, but only if you can locate a relatively quiet sauna or have one in your home.
  7. Being creative– I’m going to add this one because when I read it I really thought “in theory this sounds like it would work”. I’ve never tried this but I would like to because as it would be extremely helpful in releasing things we’re attached to. It’s from the book “Thresholds of the Mind” by Bill Harris.

    Engaging in artwork, without attachment to the result, can be therapeutic. and if you are artistic, try doing something you aren’t already talented at doing. If you’re a poet, don’t write a poem, and if you paint, don’t draw a picture. Do something that you won’t need to critique, something that approaches play but which exercises some of your creative muscles. Don’t try, necessarily, to create something of artisitic value. In fact, your plan should be to throw away whatever you make. Be focused on the process, not the product.

    Take a moment and read that last sentence aloud, then read this new sentence. Be focused on the process, not whether you lost or made money on each trade.

Like I said, many of these things are nothing new, but many of these have benefits to offer us in our lives outside of trading and within our trading lives.


8 Responses to “6 Suggestions for a Healthier Trading Mindset”

  1. BankrChick Says:

    Awesome post, Jeff.

  2. Merc Says:

    Yes to all that.

    Last week, I was horizontal in the backyard looking at clouds float by. Very calming. Funny thing was as I looked up and I noticed the clothesline and some of the overhead wires reminded me of price channels and the clouds were like some new kind of indicator.

  3. don swanson Says:

    If a calm, unemotional detachment is key to being a better trader, then Zen meditation is an excellent way to cultivate your mind to an optimum performance. Let us not forget that George Soros says that he was always a philosopher first, and an investor second.
    Thanks for your site.

  4. pal Says:

    Sir John Templeton believed in spirituality more too http://www.sirjohntempleton.org/

  5. Merc Says:

    I'll pass along the beta version of my cloud indicator when my Canada Council grant comes through.

    I do recall reading a study that claimed that stocks do better when its sunny outside. Optimism flows from many sources.

  6. Power and Force in Your Trading | Market Playground Says:

    […] Meditation, clean eating, and having a clear, well defined trading plan go a long way to keeping your ego in check and leaving fear out of the trading equation. While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate these lower states, the job is to minimize them as much as possible. The good thing is once you start to see some success from your trading plan it almost immediately snowballs into a cycle that starts to eliminate fear. Confidence begets more confidence and then the trick to remain humble and not over-confidence begins. […]

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