Whether you’re just starting out, or coming back to trading after a loss, the stress and anxiety felt by many traders is real. Oftentimes, that stress can prevent us from entering, or exiting a position as intended. When trading stress starts out, usually the best advice is to scale back position size, and chunk up orders to help get back into the groove. But here are some other weird things we can try to ease stress and anxiety while trading.
Massage your ears.
The ears are connected to the vagus nerve system which helps us move from fight or flight into relaxation mode. Start by gently massaging the middle upper ridge of your ears in a circular motion. Then move to gently tugging the outer ear away from the head. Finally, massage in an up and down motion the area right behind the middle ear. A three-minute ear massage has been shown to help calm people down.
This is another technique that calms the body, but this time using the breath, and it’s fairly simple. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold that breath for 5 seconds, breath out for 5 seconds, and then hold the expelled breath for 5 seconds. Repeat for 2-5 minutes to calm those nerves.
It’s one thing to reframe a data set when you’re stressed, to find that happy inside the dramatic, the good in the bad. That is a tough skill when we’re stressed. So instead, we are going to make our bodies do it for us. Studies show that taking a potential mate on a slightly scary first date increases attraction, because our bodies misrepresent the stress/fear as excitement or love. If you’re feeling stressed while entering or executing a trade, we want to make our bodies associate it with another stressor. Get up, and start your push-ups, burpees, jumping jacks. Make your body re-align your elevated heart rate with exercise and calm down that brain.
Make yourself laugh.
Ever notice that anxious people love to laugh? Laughing and crying are both ways to release excess nervous energy. Whether it’s a terrible joke you tell yourself, or a funny cat video, there’s a reason “laughter is the best medicine”.
Talk to yourself.
Walk yourself through anything and everything you’re seeing and doing. Taking that awareness of ourselves, our bodies, our actions help us see ourselves almost as a third person, and disassociates ourselves from our negative feelings. Teach yourself about your trade thesis, talk to yourself about what your hands are doing, what your body temperature feels like.
Remember that success in trading is individual, and your goal is not to power through and just “be better”, rather, the goal is to do whatever it takes to help yourself - no matter how silly it might seem.