Trading Stress Away in 9 Steps
When we think of stress or specifically stress when it comes from trading, where does it all come from? It usually comes from our mental deadlines of that million dollar account that we want by Friday with our $10,000 account on Monday, or the ambition of being like the trader across the way who has a bigger account then you, yet who might actually have more debt.
Remember that everything we are talking about are thoughts, trading is not stressful, your job is not stressful, or anything for that matter. Your thoughts about trading, your thoughts about your job or insert whatever thoughts bothers you is what is actually stressful.
Now I am not going to sit here and say that you will never get stressed again, however there are ways to help reduce it, first is becoming educated on the issue that is stressing you. When it comes to trading most are making emotional based decisions even though they claim are rational. When you are uneducated on the topic, it can be even more daunting and stressful.
The market is crashing now, hurry run for the exit and raise cash! - Emotion
The market drops from time to time, and after 20% drops, the market tends to be higher 12 months later, in any 10 year period the market is always higher - Rational
Now this tends to be easier said than done, so if you would like to try a simple 9 question exercise let me know if it helped reduce your stress levels on what you choose to discuss. You can make this about trading or how your future mother in law is stressing you out about marrying the girl you just started dating 3 months ago. Sharpen your pencil and go nuts!
Step 1 - Write down a concise sentence describing something that you experience as stressful. It helps to use the words “should” or “shouldn't”.
Ex. I should be making more money trading...
Ex. I should be working less….
Ex. I shouldn’t be trading so much...
Ex. I shouldn’t be so pressured to….
Step 2 - On a scale of 1-10 how strongly do you feel this belief is true? (10 being the highest?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Now if it is less then a 7, it most likely isn’t a big concern for you, so dig deep and be honest with what is really bothering you.
Step 3 - You are now going to explore the cause and effect relationship between what you believe, how you feel and how you act. Circle or write down at least 3 words that you feel when you believe what is stressing you out.
Afraid Abandoned Angry Annoyed Anxious Confused
Depressed Desperate Embarrassed Frustrated Helpless
Hopeless Hurt Impatient Inadequate Insecure Invisible
Jealous Nervous Rejected Resentful Tense Upset Worried
Step 4 - Now circle or write down at least 3 words based on how you act when you feel this way?
Argue Belittle Blame Bully Complain Cry Drink Eat Escape
Fight Find Fault With Give Up Gossip Insult Interrupt Lose Sleep Manipulate Obsess Overwork Pity Myself Preach Pretend
Procrastinate Shop Shut Down Smoke Suffer Withdraw Yell
Step 5 - Now take your statement from Step 1 and flip it, if you used “should” use “shouldn't” and vice versa, and try to add “In reality” in the beginning and “at this time” or “at that time” at the end.
Step 1 Statement “I should be making more money trading…”
Step 5 Statement Now “In reality, I shouldn't be making more money trading at this time
Step 1 Statement “I need to be right in every trade”
Step 5 Statement Now “In reality, I don't need to be right in every trade at this time”
Step 6 - Now take the time to write all the proof that supports your statement from step 5 as being true in reality at this time (or in the past).
Ex. In reality, I shouldn't be making more money trading at this time, I just started trading a few months ago.
Ex. In reality, I don't need to be right in every trade at this time, I just need to make more when I am right and less when wrong.
Ex. In reality, I am not a failure at this time, I am just learning how to trade recently.
Now read that statement out loud, use that voice of yours and say it. Scream it for all I care, I won't be able to hear you, however trust me, you will feel better after doing it!
Step 7 - How do you feel when you see the truth of your once stressful statement? Circle 3 or write down your own based on how you feel.
Calm Clear Compassionate Connected Curious Enlightened
Enthusiastic Excited Free Grateful Honest Humble Intimate
Light Loving Optimistic Peaceful Playful Relaxed Relieved
Serene Supportive Tolerant Truthful Understanding
Step 8 - What actions might come from this? Circle or write your own.
Accept Apologize Approach Be Honest Breathe
Clarify Communicate Contribute Delegate Exercise
Explore Focus Follow Through Forgive Give Thanks Listen
Make Amends Network Open Up Participate Prioritize
Reach Out Share Speak Up Support
Last Step - Read your original statement again, how strongly do you feel this belief to be true now?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Don't you feel lighter now? That weight lifted off your shoulders a bit. Now that you have completed this task, you successfully stretched your stress muscle in that thick skull of yours. If there are other things that are stressing you, repeat this same process. Before what was bothering you, you might have been too stubborn or fixed in your ways to make a change, and hopefully now you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and pivot for the better!
Trading Psychology Task - Text your statement to a friend or loved one who knows you've been stressed lately.
If you found this exercise to be helpful, realize that most people you know are also stressing about something. Take a moment and send it to them. Hopefully we can help more people reduce the level of stress they are putting on themselves!
2 of our best reads on the subject of stress
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
The Myth of Stress by Andrew Bernstein
From Ben G