Trading and Mental Health

gotu

Active member
100 5
Hi all,

I'm opening this thread to share some of the psychological sides of my trading journey which I'm finding most burdensome and hard to deal with.

I started studying the markets 9 years ago, straight out of college whilst I worked in a number of different industries. I spent considerable time during work hours and out of work learning about the markets and slowly developed a long term swing trading method. My trading methodology is purely discretionary, I look for relative strenght /weakness in sectors and stocks, enter trades using the daily chart and look to hold my winning positions for weeks, sometimes months,

Three years ago I quit my job and have since been making a living exclusively from trading, using the above mentioned methodology. I am managing to make a decent living, however
as the days go by I am starting to perceive that my work as a trader is affecting my mental health in some areas such as:

1- Even though my system should only require that I check the markets for 1-2 hours max a day, I find myself compulsively checking my positions throughout my day, which makes it hard to focus on learning other skills or enjoying my day carelessly away from the markets.

2- I find my mood is often subject to the upticks and down-ticks of the markets, leading to periods of euphoria or depression depending on how my trades unfold.

3- I often feel like my work is unworthy, like milking money out of the markets is parasitical and doesn't contribute anything of value to the world and I often feel completely disconnected from others, like my trading screen is impairing me from forming meaningful connections with the world outside of myself.

4- I often think about combining it with other work which makes me feel more connected to the world but my inability to only check the markets for 1 hour a day and then let go of them makes it very hard for me to undertake any other endeavors. It's almost like trading exercises a grip on my mind which makes it impossible for me to think creatively and focus on anything which isn't making money from market fluctuations.


These feelings are getting very hard for me to deal with, since I've worked hard to learn a trading methodology, I've always enjoyed following the markets and understanding economics, I've always wanted to be an independent trader, and yet I'm struggling with these negative thoughts and mental states that are shaping my inner life. I have taken on meditation, which seems to help but was wondering whether anyone else has struggled or struggles with these dynamics and whether you know of any books, therapies or other resources that might be helpful.
 

Tytus_Barnowl

Member
92 7
The best way to deal with anxiety issues is to go down the pub and drink alchohol. Make sure you are not able to access the markets at the time though.
 
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timsk

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. . . I have taken on meditation, which seems to help but was wondering whether anyone else has struggled or struggles with these dynamics and whether you know of any books, therapies or other resources that might be helpful.
Hi gotu,
Good idea for a thread and well done for being so candid.
My thoughts - and they are just that - are that if you're taking medication to deal with the issue then something, somewhere is quite seriously wrong. Medication should be an absolute last resort and, given that you're a young man, taking med's at your age ought to be viewed merely as an interim solution until a (much) more satisfactory long term solution can be found. Here are a few ideas for you to consider . . .

1. I understand completely your desire/need/compulsion to check the markets regularly even though your methodology doesn't require it. An answer (but not necessarily 'the' answer) is to learn to become disinterested in its minute by minute gyrations. One way to do that is to reduce your position size and to spread your holdings over a more diverse range of stocks so that minute by minute and hour by hour market movements really don't affect you at all. "Periods of euphoria or depression" are usually experienced by traders who either have to much skin in the game or don't have a fully tested trading methodology and, essentially, are just gambling. Sometimes both.

2. Feeling unworthy is easier to deal with, IMO. Realise that if speculators weren't prepared to put their money at risk in the way that you do then the markets themselves would be at risk which, in turn, could result in business failures and job losses etc. That said, I understand that you may feel quite a few rungs down the 'worthy' ladder compared to, say, a teacher or a nurse. You can offset this by giving some of your time to a charitable cause you believe in. That will make you feel good about yourself and, as you say, make you feel more connected with the world as well as taking your mind off the markets. A win win situation. The other obvious way to combat this problem is to commit a percentage of your profits to a charity or cause of your choosing. Then you're not just trading for your own benefit - but for the benefit of others as well.

3. Exercise. This is good for obvious reasons but it will also have the same effects as point 2 above and you can do it at any time you like. I took up angling a few years ago and I can tell you that the restorative effects of dangling a line in water whilst standing on a rock looking out over the beautiful south Devon coast is little short of pure magic. Find the sport/hobby that works for you - I guarantee it will help you a lot.

Hope the above is helpful - but please, please please get off the med's asap!
Tim.
 
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gotu

Active member
100 5
Hi gotu,
Good idea for a thread and well done for being so candid.
....
Hi Tim,

Thanks for your response, it is really valuable to read how other experienced traders give meaning to our work. I really like you first point about spreading risk to become less obsessed with market girations.

One of the behaviors I notice in my day to day routine is how I often find myself seeking personal reassurance from the markets. When facing a feeling of distress or mild anxiety it is easy to seek a way out of one's uneasiness in the market. After many months of daily trading, checking my positions very often, it seems like I have developed a relationship of emotional dependency with the market. This is obviously a very unhealthy relationship since I have no control over how my positions will unfold over a given hour. Seeking emotional reassurance from a completely unpredictable and impersonal entity such as the market is clearly an unhealthy strategy. This is something which I intend to explore in therapy.

Your comments on giving to the community via charity or volunteering and exercising are something I have also done in the past and will include in my daily routine in the near future.

Regarding the medication, I believe you misread my post and I am happily medication free, what I have taken on is Vipassana Meditation, a form of Buddhist meditation which has been very helpful in the past in providing psychological stability and I believe it has also improved my trading performance. I've completed two 10-day silent retreats, no phones, no books, just meditating which were very helpful and surprisingly, the markets weren't my main source of distraction during these periods.

Thanks again for your response, It's encouraging to read how others manage to make full time trading with living a fulfilling life!
 

cantagril

Senior member
2,251 506
As Timsk says, thanks for your candour.

Whilst I know little about your particular form of meditation, if it is similar to other Buddhist techniques it is probably aimed at a general progress toward an understanding of the nature of existence etc. This is useful and can be calming but perhaps not the appropriate tool for dealing with day to day stress and strain....and trading.

From my own experiences, it might well be that a more focused and objective oriented practice might help you and with that in mind I'd suggest researching self-hypnosis, which can be "tailored" to suit changing conditions and requirements. What you cannot do with SH is the equivalent of asking Santa for a puppy, i.e "Please make me a better trader"...... but what is laughably straightforward is to prepare yourself in such a way that you can become just that by doing by enabling yourself to do what you already know you could, and should.

It's worth a look, being free and with no downside
 
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postman

Legendary member
21,775 2,325
Hi all,

I'm opening this thread to share some of the psychological sides of my trading journey which I'm finding most burdensome and hard to deal with.
...
as the days go by I am starting to perceive that my work as a trader is affecting my mental health in some areas such as:

1- Even though my system should only require that I check the markets for 1-2 hours max a day, I find myself compulsively checking my positions throughout my day, which makes it hard to focus on learning other skills or enjoying my day carelessly away from the markets.

2- I find my mood is often subject to the upticks and down-ticks of the markets, leading to periods of euphoria or depression depending on how my trades unfold.

3- I often feel like my work is unworthy, like milking money out of the markets is parasitical and doesn't contribute anything of value to the world and I often feel completely disconnected from others, like my trading screen is impairing me from forming meaningful connections with the world outside of myself.

4- I often think about combining it with other work which makes me feel more connected to the world but my inability to only check the markets for 1 hour a day and then let go of them makes it very hard for me to undertake any other endeavors. It's almost like trading exercises a grip on my mind which makes it impossible for me to think creatively and focus on anything which isn't making money from market fluctuations.


These feelings are getting very hard for me to deal with, since I've worked hard to learn a trading methodology, I've always enjoyed following the markets and understanding economics, I've always wanted to be an independent trader, and yet I'm struggling with these negative thoughts and mental states that are shaping my inner life. I have taken on meditation, which seems to help but was wondering whether anyone else has struggled or struggles with these dynamics and whether you know of any books, therapies or other resources that might be helpful.
Try equating your trading to a job and see how it stacks up.

1. A job takes up your full concentration 8 hours a day, so checking your trades this often should not be considered abnormal. I sit and watch my trades 8 hours a day when necessary and less or more as I see fit.

2. People who work as an employee are subject to mood swings based on how other people treat them in the workplace (at least thats how I remember it) everyone has worked for "That boss" who makes them feel miserable, and people must have had experiences of bosses or colleagues who make their day enjoyable.

3. How many millions of people think their 9-5 is unnecessary and unworthy!

4. How many other people have "Hobbies" because they hate their job!

Your thoughts and feelings are affected by your 'trading' in the same way the majority of people are affected by their jobs, and exhibit the same symptoms you do. All perfectly normal.
 
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fibo_trader

Experienced member
1,305 23
Hi all,

I'm opening this thread to share some of the psychological sides of my trading journey which I'm finding most burdensome and hard to deal with.

I started studying the markets 9 years ago, straight out of college whilst I worked in a number of different industries. I spent considerable time during work hours and out of work learning about the markets and slowly developed a long term swing trading method. My trading methodology is purely discretionary, I look for relative strenght /weakness in sectors and stocks, enter trades using the daily chart and look to hold my winning positions for weeks, sometimes months,

Three years ago I quit my job and have since been making a living exclusively from trading, using the above mentioned methodology. I am managing to make a decent living, however
as the days go by I am starting to perceive that my work as a trader is affecting my mental health in some areas such as:

1- Even though my system should only require that I check the markets for 1-2 hours max a day, I find myself compulsively checking my positions throughout my day, which makes it hard to focus on learning other skills or enjoying my day carelessly away from the markets.

2- I find my mood is often subject to the upticks and down-ticks of the markets, leading to periods of euphoria or depression depending on how my trades unfold.

3- I often feel like my work is unworthy, like milking money out of the markets is parasitical and doesn't contribute anything of value to the world and I often feel completely disconnected from others, like my trading screen is impairing me from forming meaningful connections with the world outside of myself.

4- I often think about combining it with other work which makes me feel more connected to the world but my inability to only check the markets for 1 hour a day and then let go of them makes it very hard for me to undertake any other endeavors. It's almost like trading exercises a grip on my mind which makes it impossible for me to think creatively and focus on anything which isn't making money from market fluctuations.


These feelings are getting very hard for me to deal with, since I've worked hard to learn a trading methodology, I've always enjoyed following the markets and understanding economics, I've always wanted to be an independent trader, and yet I'm struggling with these negative thoughts and mental states that are shaping my inner life. I have taken on meditation, which seems to help but was wondering whether anyone else has struggled or struggles with these dynamics and whether you know of any books, therapies or other resources that might be helpful.


STOP! That's why its called a STOP! It manages your position not just financially but emotionally and spiritually. SET it and FORGET the market gyrations.

The Devil can fck with you internally ONLY IF your STOP is weak and made on flimsy grounds with poor reasoning. Your STOP must be a well-thought out location which when violated by even a hair tells you immediately to get out because your original basis is not valid no more. Kapiche?

In other aspects of Life I have found El Poblado in Medellin to be a nice STOP.
 
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NVP

Legendary member
36,588 1,858
Hey there....

youve got to seriously look at these issues and be at peace with yourself and your trading ......until then you will never progress as you deserve to .....

take a look at Yvans work ....a great guy and very very insightful man


 

NVP

Legendary member
36,588 1,858
Try equating your trading to a job and see how it stacks up.

1. A job takes up your full concentration 8 hours a day, so checking your trades this often should not be considered abnormal. I sit and watch my trades 8 hours a day when necessary and less or more as I see fit.

2. People who work as an employee are subject to mood swings based on how other people treat them in the workplace (at least thats how I remember it) everyone has worked for "That boss" who makes them feel miserable, and people must have had experiences of bosses or colleagues who make their day enjoyable.

3. How many millions of people think their 9-5 is unnecessary and unworthy!

4. How many other people have "Hobbies" because they hate their job!

Your thoughts and feelings are affected by your 'trading' in the same way the majority of people are affected by their jobs, and exhibit the same symptoms you do. All perfectly normal.

good advice

I've been trading since the 1980s and seriously since early 2000's in forex

I have never stopped working and consulting in other industries

it stretches and challenges me and provides multiple income streams

If I just traded (and trained people) I would become stale and bored and stagnent very quickly (tried it)

If i just worked i would also become the same ...I need variety

I think that only a few are cut out for pure trading as a career ......you really have to like your own company
and get excited about the same things that happened yesterday and the day before and the day before ....ad infinitum

not my bag ..........thats why i'm on a Trading sabatical in august.....doing a lot of consultancy work and getting the grey matter working again in some new areas and concepts....always helps when i fire the screens up again as well

N
 

Pat494

Legendary member
13,642 1,358
The above advice may suit you for a while until you become so bored and boring to others you will be tempted back into the active fray. Riding the ups and downs of the markets...………….and enjoying it.
Why not take up gardening. Very relaxing and productive. Talk to your plants if the wife won't say what you want to hear.
Buy a dog and get out more.
Chase your dream to be a...…………...whatever.
There is always proctology o_O
 
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