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Traders jokingly refer to trading as the ultimate sport because what we do to stay on top of our game is similar to the training regimes of professional athletes. In order to become a successful trader, not only do you have to learn the basic skills and practice them repeatedly, you will also need to be mentally resilient and focused on “winning” i.e. consistently applying your trading strategy. It is about reaching peak performance and being able to maintain this to give you an edge in the markets. You will not be able to perform if you are not physically and mentally ready for challenges. Here are five tips for you to maintain your best form for trading.
Research has shown that well-rested individuals tend to perform better than their tired counterparts across many different kinds of tasks. Tired people miss things and may not be able to grasp or process information as effectively. It is also quite common to notice a drop in productivity and alertness as you progress through your day. Some will find it extremely difficult to concentrate in the afternoon work hours if they have not had a good night’s sleep the night before. Getting 8 hours sleep seems like an unattainable goal for most, but even increasing your sleep time by one or two hours can improve your concentration and performance! Try to keep your bedroom a work-free zone and leave your phone/tablet in another room to improve the quality of your sleep. Also, taking a power nap (20mins max) after lunch is another way of catching up on sleep-debt. Feeling well-rested really does make a difference.
Exercise is often one of the first things that gets sacrificed when tackling an increased workload. However, people who maintain at least 20 minutes of physical activity daily have been shown to perform better than those who don’t. Many professional and institutional traders go to the gym either during their lunch break or after work. Staying active releases endorphins and keeps you alert for longer. It also helps you retain new information. Perhaps you are not the kind of person who lifts weights or likes to run. Even so, activities like walking your dog, doing household chores and stretching have been shown to deliver the same benefits to people who do them regularly. The goal is not to build muscle or lose weight, but to move more and maintain your physical vitality. A healthy body supports increased mental functionality, something you cannot do without when assessing price action for trading!
You are what you eat. Exercise is only 20% of the equation for a healthy body and diet makes up the remaining 80%. Everyone knows that a diet high in sugar and processed fat is not good for you, but some will continue eating badly simply because they enjoy the taste of fatty, sugary foods. There are countless recipe books on diet and nutrition in the marketplace these days, making it so much easier to plan and eat a balanced diet with proportionate servings of fibre, protein and carbohydrates. Being disciplined with your diet not only ensures you are giving your body the nutrition it needs, but it also cultivates inner-discipline which has carry over effects to your trading. If you are able to stick to a diet plan, then chances are you will also be able to stick to a trading plan.
This tip is the first of two tips related to your mental health and well-being. When you first start to trade you must give yourself a chance to survive the learning curve. However, even when you have gotten comfortable with your trading ability you will still find new things to learn about the markets, yourself and trading. The learning process is an on-going one! Some people find this frustrating and they simply want a magic machine that churns money with very little effort on their part. This is not how trading works. To become a successful trader who takes winning and losing trades in stride, it is vital to keep an open mind and not beat yourself up when you make mistakes. The goal is to minimize risk, be consistent and learn more as you go along. Invest in education and broaden your mind, as this definitely helps you become a balanced and all-rounded trader. (see our Education center for Forex traders / Binary Options traders)
Trading is a lifestyle yet it is a job like any other. There will be days when you do not feel like doing this job so it is important you find a source of inspiration and motivation. This could be the desire to attain financial security or more freedom of choice when it comes to how and where you work; or it could also be the desire to emulate someone you respect or to gain useful skills in the financial markets. Having a written list of aspirations is helpful to get you through challenging times; some people may even go as far as creating a mood board where they pin up pictures or quotes that motivate them to improve their trading. The choice is yours, find something that works for you.
Please keep in mind that this is not medical or health advice. If you are in doubt about anything please consult your healthcare practitioner, especially before commencing any strenuous exercise or diet.