Picture these scenarios. The stock market has just crashed. A crypto meltdown erases $1 trillion in market value (a true recent story). A power cut happens just as you try to close a trade. Trading involves a lot of drama, and there are moments when you think that the end of the (trading) world has come.
Can you keep your cool during times of trading panic and survive in extreme volatility? And why does it matter to stay calm and rational in moments like this?
As much as we like to consider ourselves as logical and composed, our emotional state is a significant driver in our behaviour.
Even when the situation is less dramatic, the vast majority of traders may feel out of control emotionally and end up trading either under the pressure of trading or with over-confidence.
No matter how much trading expertise a trader has or how hard we are working to win, we usually neglect the impact of emotions. Even experienced traders can get under anxiety’s influence at times.
The ideal is to trade with confidence without letting negative emotions (or wishful thinking) get in your way. But, of course, easier said than done, right?
Here are some tips to help you stay cold-hearted in the heart of the moment.
Develop emotional intelligence
Being aware of your emotions and what triggers them is the first step in building emotional intelligence. When you know how you’re feeling and understand how those feelings influence how you view risk, you will realise that you can control them.
Your ability to find inner balance will help you make sound decisions and manage your mind during market turbulence. All in all, sensible trading can happen only if you can control your feelings.
Reach for the “off switch”
When you get caught up in a trading storm, one approach is to escape the situation. Take some time away from the market, grab some coffee, walk your dog, cook a quick meal. Get off the emotional rollercoaster and come back with a clear mind and fresh perspective. A clear mind is always a more rational mind.
The two dont’s - and three do’s - to prevent mental stress
All the above tips are to be followed in the middle of a trading crisis. But, what about precaution? Instead of finding ways to keep your head cool in times of stress, you can just take the situation in stride by doing or avoiding some things.
Don’t force trades: Forcing trades is a way to act emotionally because it usually involves making up for previous losses. Unfortunately, experience has shown that if you start to make trade forcing a habit, you’ll definitely end up with losses. Do not just trade for the sake of trading: Be patient, do your research, prepare your strategy, and evaluate your trading priorities.
Don’t get overconfident: Overconfidence may lead to problems. Being in a euphoric state clouds judgment and may sabotage performance. Trading with overconfidence usually contributes to higher trading frequency. The more trading an investor does, the less likely they are to succeed.
Keep a trading journal: It is helpful to revisit your past gains and losses and evaluate them without having negative emotions. Keeping records of your trades, the reasons for entering into them, and knowing how they performed can help you learn from trading. In addition, reviewing your past strategies can help you not lose composure when you have a hot run.
Being organised and systematic: Creating a trading environment and building trading habits will allow your mind to curb emotions when they seem to be out of control.
Considering altering your trading style: Finding your trading style is not easy to achieve, and once you find it, you must be consistent. But, in volatile markets or during times of trading stress, you must be flexible. Narrowing or changing your trading basket or tightening up holding periods of your trades may benefit you in the long run.
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