Module 12 Innerworth — Mind over markets

Chapter 35

Free Up Psychological Energy by Relieving Stress

There are limits to the psychological energy you have available to devote to trading. And this limited energy is diminished when you let too many issues remain unresolved, lingering in the back of your mind. The more issues you leave unresolved, the more they build up and the less psychological energy you will have to address them, and also devote to trading. When built up and left unresolved, there’s a high probability that these conflicts will creep out when you least expect it. Some conflicts are conscious and may enter your mind during some point during the day. Other conflicts are unconscious; you may rarely think of them. But whether they are conscious or unconscious, psychological issues are always there lurking to some extent. It’s in your best interest to bring them into awareness, resolve them, and prevent them from taking up psychological space and energy.

To free up psychological energy and resources, it’s important to identify stressors and conflicts and work tirelessly to resolve them. You can free up psychological energy by practicing stress prevention. Stressful emotions can build up, and if not released occasionally, one can be overloaded by stress. You can’t completely remove stress from the trading environment, but you can prevent the stressful aspects of trading from making you feel overly anxious and fearful by developing a stress management plan and following it. Some useful ways to manage stress include (a) avoiding caffeine, (b) exercising regularly, (c) minimizing daily hassles, and (d) seeking out social support.

Caffeine helps many people wake up in the morning, but it may often elevate your nervous system to the point of making you hyper-alert to the slightest form of stress. Trading is stressful enough; it’s not useful to pre-elevate your nervous system and feel a heightened sense of anxiety. Tension can also be reduced through regular exercise. Tension builds up during the trading day, and a regular exercise program ensures that pent-up frustration and tension are released, and do not build up to influence subsequent trading decisions unexpectedly. It’s also important to reduce stressors in your environment.

Daily hassles, such as time pressure, traffic congestion, or feeling over-extended can build up psychological tension and loiter in the back of your mind. Try to minimize these hassles and relieve the pent-up tension. But however you cope with daily hassles, don’t ignore them; don’t try to pretend they aren’t important enough to deal with immediately. They can accrue and cause you great strain in the long run.

Seeking social support from friends and loved ones is an effective way to cope with stress. When extremely stressed people have a person, or persons, with which to vent their frustration, they are able to better cope with the stressors. Oftentimes, merely expressing stressful emotions of anger, fear, and frustration can make one feel optimistic, empowered, and ready to tackle new stressors with renewed vigor. That said, it’s important to remember that relationships can be a double-edged sword.

They can help relieve stress under the right conditions, but they can also be a substantial source of stress. Not just anyone can serve as a vital member of one’s social support network. Ideally, people in one’s social support network should be good listeners; they should actually want to hear about your unique problems, support your feelings, and help you alleviate stress. Some relationships are uplifting, but other relationships provoke frustration and anxiety. This may be especially true for traders since not everyone in a trader’s social support network understands trading or is supportive of it.

For example, suppose a loved one is not supportive of trading, and frequently provokes anxiety by saying things like, “How much did you lose today?” or “When are you going to give up trading and go back to your regular job.” Similarly, a conservative, risk-averse friend may not want to hear about relatively risky trading activities. In these cases, such relationships are unsupportive at best or extreme stressors at worst. Thus, it is vital for your psychological health to seek out the right kind of social support.

It’s essential to trade with the proper mindset. If your mind is frantically consumed with conflict and stress, you’ll find that a large supply of your psychological energy is depleted, and when you shift your attention to trading, you will be unable to focus and concentrate. But when you relieve stress, you free up psychological resources and can purge the conflicts and stressors lurking in the back of your mind. Your trading will benefit from the peak performance mindset.

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