Because trading can often turn into an intense mental activity, most traders tend to forget their physical well-being.
After all, you don’t really need to have washboard abs or maintain a single-digit body fat percentage to do well in the markets, do you?
Day traders can simply roll right out of bed, eat a Pop Tart, check their trading platforms, stare at the screen all day, grab an energy drink, stay up watching the charts all night… and still manage to make millions!
While this kind of lifestyle works for some, it doesn’t exactly seem sustainable or healthy at all.
In fact, just like any other high-performance sport, your trading skills can benefit from a holistic approach that takes physical well-being into account.
Here are some simple habits that can improve your trading performance:
1. Get enough sleep
Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of shut-eye might be a challenge for forex traders who work around a 24-hour market.
It can be tempting to pull an all-nighter to stay awake during an active trading session or catch a top-tier news event!But constantly staying up all day and night just to watch open positions has its drawbacks, as sleep deprivation can impair cognitive and motor abilities.
Getting enough quality sleep can help you manage your emotions and stay level-headed when making trading decisions, as this ensures your brain muscles have relaxed and your mental state is refreshed regularly.
2. Take screen breaks
In line with getting enough sleep, you should also make it a habit to step away from the screen every now and then.
This means giving your eyes a break from the strain and also stretching your muscles after sitting in front of your computer for long hours.
In doing so, you can release tension from your back, shoulders, and neck that might be negatively affecting your ability to stay focused.
If you’re worried you might miss big market moves the moment you take a break, try to come up with a daily schedule that works around the best timing for your trading strategies.
3. Get proper exercise
This doesn’t necessarily mean starting a Crossfit workout or running a half-marathon!What’s important is that you allocate some time – it can be as short as 15-30 minutes – to get blood flowing to your muscles and your brain.
Going for a short jog, doing some pushups, or taking your dog out for a walk could be enough to do the trick.
From a physiological standpoint, trading stress gets blood flow redirected away from the cerebral cortex towards the amygdala, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” response.
However, it’s actually the cerebral cortex that is in charge of the calm, reasoning ability to make sound decisions.
Physical exercise gets blood flowing back smoothly to the cerebral cortex, which aids impulse control, planning, and fear management in the long run.
4. Slow down and take deep breaths
Just as it’s essential to get your blood flowing, it’s also equally important to get your oxygen on!
According to my favorite trading psychologist Dr. Brett Steenbarger:
“A great trading psychology technique is to just take a couple of deep breaths and perform a quick gut check before placing each trade. It introduces a moment of mindfulness in our decisions. It is difficult to trade with FOMO if you’re slowing yourself down and reflecting upon your actions.”
Exercise, quality sleep, and deep breathing all contribute to bringing enough oxygen to the cerebral cortex or the “reasoning center” of the brain.
5. Eat well and stay hydrated
Lastly, don’t forget that the body and brain function best when fueled by proper nourishment from water, minerals, and nutrients.You don’t have to create a fancy diet of organic food and vitamin water, but it’s enough to make sure that you get balanced meals with the right amount of carbs, protein and fiber.
This could mean cutting down on sugary snacks, energy drinks, and instant ramen. Listen to your momma and eat your veggies yo!
And don’t forget to take the recommended 8 glasses of water a day, too.
This is a simple habit you can build into your schedule, along with screen breaks and exercise. If it helps, you can use smartphone apps that remind you to stand up, take deep breaths, stretch, and hydrate.
These aren’t exactly difficult habits to develop or incorporate in your daily routine, but they can go a long way in terms of improving your decision-making, emotional control, and overall trading mindset.