8 Tips for Reducing Stress in Trading
Previously, in my article on 8 Sources of Stress in Trading, I talked about some of the most common stressors that binary options traders are faced with. While the idea of abandoning your 9-5 day job in favor of trading may sound like a breath of fresh air (and in many ways it certainly can be!), it is not without its cost. It isn’t all going to be tequilas on the beach; in fact, you will probably spend as much time working as a trader as you spend working at your day job now. Self-employment and trading also come with many forms of stress which may be unfamiliar to a 9-5 worker.
Here are some of the stressors that can get you down while you are trading binary options:
- Low income
- Massive workload
- Challenging hours and a lack of work-life boundary lines
- A lack of support
- Losing trades
- Facing uncertainty every single day
- The shock of real life not matching up to your expectations
Some of those may be familiar to you from your day job, while others will be new to you as a trader (especially the lack of clear work-life boundaries and the feeling like you are working all the time). Learning to cope with stress (and eliminate it where possible) is essential if you want to succeed as a trader and not burn out from discouragement and overwork—or equally bad, turn to addictive gambling behaviors for imaginary relief.
One thing which it is essential to understand about stress reduction is this: you can never get rid of all your stress. You will always be at least a little bit stressed. Fighting that reality will actually just make you feel more stressed, not less.
Here are 8 ways you can deal with your stress!
1. Figure out what your stress triggers are.
Obviously there are some long-term stressors that you cannot expect to immediately resolve or take control of (like needing trading capital and not getting it), but there are probably a lot of short-term stressors that you encounter day to day that you can reduce your exposure to or work around.
You might notice for example that you get stressed out if you sit for too long in front of your computer. Simply taking a ten-minute break every hour could be enough to keep you from getting overwhelmed. Or you might find that your stress is triggered by unnecessary and unfounded fears every time you enter a trade. While you cannot avoid trading, you can reframe your thoughts and feelings about your trades to better cope with the uncertainty you are dealing with.
You may also find that some triggers have nothing to do with your trading, but they impact your trading adversely. Maybe you are stressed when a certain relative calls you on the phone or you have to deal with a certain co-worker at your day job. On those days, you are not at your best, and tend to make bad trading decisions, which then causes you even more stress. If you simply avoid trading on those days, you may be able to perform better without adding to your stress in the form of trading losses.
2. Come up with work-life boundaries.
One of the unique stressors associated with self-employment and trading in particular is a blurry division line between “work life” and “regular life.” If you work a 9-5 job at an office somewhere, there is a ritual to what you do each day, and that ritual establishes clear boundaries. When you put on your suit or your uniform and you head to your workplace each day, you enter into your “work life” and your work mindset. When you drive home each night and take off your work clothes, you drop your work mindset and enter back into the rest of your life. You (hopefully) stop thinking about work and stressors relating to work.
You cannot do that when you work from home, and trading has the added complication of intruding on your sleep and sometimes even on your day job, if you have one! The problem with this is the way it tempts you to constantly dwell on your trading. You cannot really rest and refresh your mind and spirit if you are constantly working. And even if you are not at the computer screen staring at the charts all day (which itself is a temptation for a lot of traders), you may be doing it in your mind.
What can you do about this? Try to come up with some rules. For example, you might decide you will always take one or two days of the week entirely off trading and all trading-related activities. You also may decide to only watch the charts during certain hours of the day. You may need to come up with other helpful routines as well, like only working in one part of your house, and doing no other activities there (plus, you can then take the “business use of your home” tax deduction). Create rituals of your own that help you to move in and out of your trader role seamlessly.
3. Find healthy stress relief choices.
If your first impulse is to go for the bottle or gamble in the face of stress, you will have to find a healthy replacement for these stress-relievers. These unhealthy choices may briefly alleviate stress, but over time they only add to your burden. Try a healthy alternative like going on a walk or dancing or doing yoga. Play a video game, read a book, watch television, or go out for a drive.
Just do something healthy and preferably not related to trading. Remember, trading-related activities will only keep you fixated on the problems you are having, at least one of which is probably overwork. It is important to live a well-rounded, balanced life. You may be surprised at the results. Not only will you probably feel less stressed, but you may even discover that some of the answers to your problems can be found in the places you least expect. You may also find that some problems solve themselves in the meantime.
4. Practice meditation.
Relaxation is not something that comes naturally to everyone. Even if you were good at relaxing in the past, after a change in circumstances, it is surprisingly easy to forget. Many people in high-stress occupations find it helpful to learn to practice meditative techniques such as mindfulness or deep breathing exercises. Mindfulness is something you can practice no matter what you are doing—whether you are sitting, eating a meal, walking, or doing any other simple, purposeful activity that does not require deep thinking. The more you practice techniques like these, the more their positive, balancing effects will flood over into other areas of your life. Eventually, they may even help you to step back from your emotions while you are trading and make smarter choices.
5. Get plenty of sleep.
Trading is a field where it is particularly tempting to skip out of necessary sleep. Most people need 8-10 hours of sleep each night in order to function at their best. But when you are struggling to succeed at something, you may feel like you are shirking responsibility by not spending every moment you possibly can glued to your computer screen. You may worry that you will miss the best trades if you do not trade 24 hours a day. It can feel like you are slipping further and further behind.
But sleep is absolutely a must if you plan to actually win any of those trades! When you do not get enough sleep, you damage your concentration and your physical health. You become more susceptible to illnesses. You also make any psychological challenges you face that much worse, including stress. It is hard to feel relaxed when you are constantly anxious and fatigued, which is exactly what will happen without enough sleep.
6. Eliminate stressors you can actually get rid of.
Remember earlier when you came up with a list of your stressors? While most of your triggers probably cannot be eliminated, only worked around, some may actually be things you can remove from your life like bad habits, toxic individuals, and unnecessary commitments.
Ask yourself whether all of the activities you are involved in are really important to you at this point in your life, and whether there are any unimportant commitments you can drop to free up some time and energy. Are there any people you still keep in your life that cause you psychological harm, and whom you could walk away from? Removing just one toxic person from your life can make a world of instantaneous difference in terms of stress relief. And bad habits like drinking and smoking only contribute to your stress.
The great thing is that all of these are stressors you have some control over. Imagine how much better you would feel if you removed them completely. Just learning how to say the word “no” can make a huge difference in your life. Learning how to be more assertive and speak up about your feelings and your needs can also lead to improvements in stressful situations that may be impacting your mood while you trade.
7. Focus on the things you can control.
One of the greatest sources of stress in life is dealing with the things you cannot control. Perhaps the biggest mistake is believing that you can or even should be dealing with those things all the time. Try writing down the different stressors in your life, and then make notes next to each one. Which ones can you do something about? Which ones are out of your control? For the ones which are out of your control, write down something helpful to reframe how you perceive the stressor. Is there a way you can look at it that makes it less stressful? Are there aspects of the situation you simply need to learn to let go of? As you write, make a decision to stop dwelling on those aspects. Instead, turn your attention to situations you can control.
On that note, one of the things you can control is typically your environment. You may not be able to control every aspect of it, like the people you live with or the neighborhood where you live, but you can make the room where you conduct your trading activities as stress-free as possible. Work in an orderly, clean space which helps you to feel focused and creative. Eliminate noise and distractions from outside, and surround yourself with positive influences. Make sure your work space is in order before you start trading every day, and you will start your day off right.
8. Get help if you need it.
Do not try to deal with stress entirely on your own. Stress is something which is best handled with help. Help can come in many forms. You may need to ask your family to support you in overcoming your stress. You also might turn to friends and fellow traders. Joining a community is a great idea if you haven’t yet. You also might do well enrolling in some kind of a coaching program. This can be a coaching program designed specifically for traders, or it can be a life coaching program designed to help you reach any goal.
If you have problems with stress you cannot manage without professional assistance, you might even benefit from enrolling in therapy. You will also find a lot of online resources which can help you to deal with stress, learn relaxation and breathing techniques, and more. Sometimes combining these techniques with a method like Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can produce results.
Getting out of the office grind is a big deal, and it can do a lot to alleviate stress. You no longer have to deal with a boss or with co-workers, and you get to work at home where you feel most comfortable. But that does not mean that self-employment is stress-free, and you will in fact have to learn to deal with stressors you never encountered in the 9-5 office work environment. Binary options trading is a particularly stressful business since it involves coming face to face with uncertainty each day. But you are not helpless in the face of stress.
You can never entirely eliminate stress from your life, but there is a lot you can do to reduce and control it, and more importantly, control your reaction to it. This can help you to adjust to working from home and to the unique rigors and challenges that come with binary options trading. When you reduce and re-frame stress and learn how to relax, you position yourself to become a winner.