The human body is an amazing machine and it is so adaptable that it allowed human mankind to survive and evolve over millions of years. However, there are limitations to what the body can do and the pace of how we have transformed our society poses major challenges and dangers. We went from an almost exclusively outdoors working and physical activate society, to one where we now almost exclusively sit all day long, the longest distance we walk if from the house door to our cars, perform mostly passive work with lots of mental stress without having the possibility to vent, and we look at bright screens from when we wake up until we fall asleep.
As traders, we spend most our days and life’s sitting down, not moving, being exposed to constant stress, while trying to perform at the highest level. Throughout this article we provide evidence of medical and scientific research how our trading lifestyle influences our physiology and our health. And, even more important, we provide practical tips how you can improve your work situation easily and efficiently.
As traders, we are constantly exposed to a level of stress from the time we pull the trigger on our trades, to the time when we manage our trades and react to the market volatility, until the moment when we close our trade. Stress is an always present companion for traders. Although stress isn’t bad per definition, the combination of chronic stress and an unbalanced passive lifestyle can be disastrous for traders.
When we experience stress, our heart beats faster and it signals our brain’s prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain which is responsible for thought processing and decision making) to shut down temporarily and to let your midbrain take over (the older part of your brain where our impulsive reflexes and instincts are habituated). This physiological effect is also the cause why traders so often make ‘bad’ decisions when exposed to stress, because they stop making rational decisions, and just respond to the ancient fight or flight instincts.
During night our body produces Melatonin which is a hormone that helps us recover and it can only be produced when we are not exposed to light. Research has found out long ago that being exposed to bright light before going to bed can influence and harm the Melatonin production. Thus, staying in a bright light room before sleeping can interfere with our Melatonin production. Melatonin deficiency can lead to sleeping disorders, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression and impact our immune system.
Just about every simple aspect of trading can be seen as a result of psychology. Traders who are able to remain patient at trading and wait for the right opportunity are merely ones who have managed to take control of the psychological aspects of trading, as compared to a new trader who is yet to find a balance in waiting for the right set ups to occur.
A simple task such as buying and selling a security requires the mind to factor in the information that you have researched on, the clues from the technical indicators or if you use any or the clues from the price action itself as well as doing quick calculations as to how much funds to allocate or risk to a trade.
Likewise, there are many instances when even good news in the markets turns out to be a reason to sell. Such moments signal a pessimistic outlook from investors and no matter what, the markets just seem to look at everything as half empty. Thus, when dealing with the markets that exhibit the collective psychology, as a trader it is important to not just understand this behavior but also train one’s mind such that the trader is in better control.
Possible health concerns caused from trading.
You are experiencing weight gain.
You deal with constant exhaustion.
You have trouble sleeping.
You are always having negative thoughts.
You are craving more coffee.
What to do next?
All body signals are meaningless if you don’t react and keep track of the progress. By paying attention to how your body is reacting to trading, you are ensuring better livelihood and good health out of the business. The next thing to do is to take action on any health issue you may have and monitor improvements.
Psychology in trading thus has two important functions. Firstly, the market itself is a reflection of the wider investor psychology and simply reflects the mood of the investor and secondly, the trader’s own psychology plays a bigger role when it comes to determining the success of the market.
When talking about psychology, there are two words that are often throw out in the open. Fear and Greed!
Fear in the stock markets is when investors shun risk and seek safety in assets that do not yield high returns (or yield any returns in some cases) but simply as a protection of one’s capital. The general thinking here being that the investor is too afraid to invest their money for fear that they would end up losing their capital rather than make any profits.
Greed in the stock markets on the other hand is when investors seek higher returns, thus taking on higher risk. Here, the general conception is that investors are optimistic on the economy or the general stock market and thus, willing to take on more risks.
These same emotions also play a significant role when it comes to an individual trader as well. For example, would you be taking on more risk by adding to your positions when you are fearful? Or have you ever wondered how a winning streak usually starts, one winning trade after another and you start increasing your position sizes?
This is nothing but fear and greed in play on a personal level, while the broader stock market cycles are a reflection of the wider investing community. The stock market crashes in history are nothing but these psychological cycles in play, triggered by investors as a result of some bad news.
In most cases, during the peak of the stock market crashes, you will often find central banks and even governments coming out in support. Usually, the narrative of the time being that central banks threaten to cut interest rates or pump money into the economy. These words, in many cases have proven to soothe investor sentiment thus slowly lifting the stock markets back on track without actually having to implement any of the points that were talked about.
Tips for healthier trading environment.
The correct setup of your desk
The best office chair
Reducing the bad effects of a bright computer screen
Your office environment
Relax and take a mini-vacation at your desk
- Take the stairs. Yes, you have heard this so often before, but we hope that by showing you how bad the excessive sitting lifestyle is for our health, you are now ready to start making a change
- Take mini-breaks. Instead of having a bottle of water at your desk, take a glass at a time to make sure you get frequent breaks
- Stand up! There are many forms of office desks with adjustable heights. This would be a great purchase and well worth your money.
- Use printer time. While waiting for the report to be printed, use the time effectively. Calf-raises, some stretching routine or other forms of mini-exercises can be done
- Better coffee breaks.