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Trading Education Posted by Team Topstep April 23, 2023

5 Tips For Recharging the Batteries

Sandy Beach - Vacation

Going into the recent post-Easter week, I knew I wanted to take some time off for relaxation. My children were out of school for Spring Break, and I planned for the family to get away for a few days. The previous week I had considered how to set up my trading while I was away, knowing that with many of the markets on an adjusted Good Friday schedule, it would be beneficial to decide a few days beforehand. 

So, while I incorporate some day trading, I also employ other strategies that hold positions overnight and maintain some complex options positions. 

While contemplating my process during vacation planning, I thought back to just last month. I had been traveling for business when sudden concerns of a banking crisis escalated, leading many equity index futures to sell off and crude oil to tank noticeably. Meanwhile, gold and U.S. Treasury futures were rising. 

While I was traveling, I was holding positions in all these markets. Unsurprisingly, due to the nature of my travel and business, I was distracted and chose not to handle my open positions as I would have under normal circumstances. The result was I made some decisions that I did not like in order to conduct other business that was pertinent at the time. 

Ultimately, I elected to take some losses greater than my standard trade norm that I thought I could otherwise have defended. However, for reasons of mental and emotional space, I just went flat. 

Relaxation vs Distraction

The scenario prompted me to recall a somewhat parallel case all the way back in 2008 when the housing/credit crisis began to swing fully. I remember traveling just after Labor Day that year when Lehman Brothers fell, signaling a significant banking dilemma. Yep, back then, I took losses as well, albeit I appreciated being so close to history and knowing my trades could have gone much worse.

So, fast forward to the recent Spring Break in 2023. While I was preparing to go out of town to rest with the family, I thought about 2008, as well as the sudden volatility spike in March 2023. So, I made a choice that rather than managing positions heading into a personal holiday, I would remain flat. 

Have I learned my lesson? Maybe! I need reminders like the recent one I experienced this March. For me, the reminder I needed is that when I’m relaxing and distracted, I should leave the trading behind. In fact, the more I reflect, the more memories I have of weekend getaways being interrupted by market behavior. Moreover, I’m sure in some articles, in an alternative way, I’ve remarked on this topic before. 

5 Tips For Recharging the Batteries

For our readers in the Northern Hemisphere, it is springtime, and summer is fast approaching. In other words, it will be a time of vacations, getaways, and other opportunities for fun. So I might encourage you to consider whether it may be appropriate for you to reserve your trading during those times, and I’ll give you some reasons why. 

Take a Break for Yourself

Trading has a way of being either painful or rewarding, and sometimes, it can be painfully beneficial. What I mean is that there is a cost in trading that we don’t frequently assess, that being our mental and emotional energy. So one primary reason to let your trading have a break during your vacations, downtime, or getaways is to rest yourself, enabling you to recharge and hit the markets again strong. 

Take a Break for Others

Some of us enjoy traveling alone, while others prefer to enjoy such time with family and friends. If your relaxation time includes others, then consider what a gift it could be to them for you to close down your computers entirely. 

We all know the experience of having someone physically with us who isn’t emotionally or mentally present. Sadly, I’ve found myself to be frequently occupied by trading while spending time with family over the years during times that were intended to be restful. Therefore, take a breakif not for yourself, to help others enjoy the best of you.

Go All-In On Fun

As traders, we are constant risk managers. Even when we intend to enjoy ourselves, we are thinking about what the markets are doing or will do when they open. As risk managers, we learn to reserve our capital. However, when it comes to times of joyful rest, we might consider going “all in” and laying aside our trading distractions, getting away from digital reminders, and giving ourselves to a complete experience of relaxation. 

What If Trading Goes Wrong?

Earlier in this article, I expressed my own travel experiences that were marked mainly by significant market events. Unfortunately, as I look back on some of these, my most robust and vivid memories are of the markets and not what I was doing to relax. Accordingly, my memories are woefully skewed. One benefit to getting away in a total sense, even from the markets, is that I’m guaranteed to eliminate the chance that my trading positions will interfere with my good times. 

Minimalization is Good; Eradication is Better

If you are like me, you have had times when you thought that you could rest or be on vacation and just trade just two hours a day, or have smaller positions opened throughout the day, or whatever logic seemed appropriately applicable to your circumstance. I suppose that minimizing our trading is better than expecting to continue full throttle while taking what is otherwise to be some kind of supposed break. However, I’ve found over the years that a complete cessation of trading functions is what really enables one to get away from it all completely. 

In summary, life is short. Profits will be available week in and out. I’ve never seen a trading career positively change trajectory because someone elected to trade during vacation time. However, I have seen many negative responses to vacation trading. 

The fact is, this applies to us all. If you are trading well, then you deserve a break and probably need one before you push your success too far. On the other hand, if you’ve been trading poorly, then your relaxation getaway isn’t going to adjust your potential for the year except to possibly compound your problems. In conclusion, self-care is always a needful aspect of trading, so let’s be responsible about it. Until next time, trade well!