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Trading Education Posted by Team Topstep June 30, 2021

Physical Health and Trading Discipline

Healthy Diet

Healthy Habits For Successful Day Traders

As traders go through the education process, we are often overwhelmed with all the forms of analysis to learn, including scores of indicators and entry/exit systems. Usually, it’s later in developing the trading lifestyle that discipline becomes more of a focus. Trading discipline is a complex concept that overlaps with many facets of a person’s life. Sun Tzu says that discipline is “enforced through consistent application of reward and punishment,” in other words, this reads as though discipline is highly correlated to what traders call risk and reward. 

One of the areas of trading discipline that’s easy to overlook is the vital role that physical health plays in successful day traders’ lives. Yes, many of us were taught as children to brush our teeth each night and then in the morning; however, it is not until we begin to mature and experience life as adults that we really start to understand the importance of taking care of our teeth. What taught me the value of dental hygiene better than anything was having an awful toothache.

4 Ways To Improve Your Daily Trading Routine

I will now propose ways to incorporate healthy living into your daily trading routine to enhance a healthy lifestyle both physically and in your trading.

  1. Get Your Sleep! 

Okay, we all know the value of a good night’s rest. Waking up well slept helps to ensure that we feel fresh and vibrant throughout the day. However, studies have also shown that people who average 6-7 hours of sleep each night tend to live the healthiest. Meanwhile, those who sleep less have a significantly greater chance of developing health problems and live a shorter lifespan.

When it comes to trading, I cannot tell you how many times over the years I met unsuccessful traders who failed to sleep appropriately; the number is vast. Meanwhile, I don’t remember any specific cases of knowing a successful trader who had poor rest habits.

These concepts are not rocket science; insufficient rest decreases all bodily functions, including a tremendous effect on the brain, resulting in reduced decision-making abilities. Combine that with the lack of patience and other side effects of inadequate rest, and you are begging for trouble when you trade with too little sleep.

The best traders I know tend to implement many mechanical aspects, and this one is imperative when it comes to a personal schedule. Not only is it essential to get enough sleep, but also to appropriately schedule your sleep. Traders cannot wake up and immediately run to the charts and expect to begin trading profitably. Instead, healthy trading habits and routines include preparing yourself for the day.

In short, it is essential to schedule your rest time and include ample time for sleep and preparation for your day. In doing so, you have a genuine chance of living longer and trading better; what’s not to like?

  1. Plan Your Diet

It probably cannot be overstated the importance of diet and nutrition toward a healthy lifestyle. We know that particular foods generate vibrant living; meanwhile, others will erode the quality of life and may even shorten our lifespan while increasing the chances for diseases. 

These benefits are alone are worth considering for any person. However, to traders, there are additional reasons why a proper diet is essential for our success. Furthermore, one will find that health is systemic; one action must support and sustain other activities. Take, for example, the previous idea of sleeping well; you probably know that your diet selections will significantly contribute to how you sleep. Not only your choice of foods but when you decide to eat is of significant importance as well.

Being the good traders you are, I will depend on you to research this and apply it to your own life circumstances. However, when you eat the wrong thing at the wrong time of night, you can ensure that you will not sleep to your potential. However, in reverse, eating the right foods at the best times will increase your likelihood of sleeping better.

Furthermore, when you begin to absorb and implement these ideas, you can help your bodies support your trading with all nutrition choices you make. For example, if you wake up and trade in the mornings, as most of us probably do, then your breakfast choice is of critical importance. Questions to consider will be if your first meal choice gives you the nutrients you need to make sound decisions for the day? Next, will your breakfast choice cause any undesired biological effects?

Trust Me On This One

This crucial idea is one I learned from observation. I worked in an office setting where we were too busy to go out for lunch; the company was successful and would order in every day, usually the most unhealthy foods. The result is that profitability decreased significantly in the afternoons. Over time, the reason became apparent that everyone was eating the wrong things at lunch; our energy was given to the digestive process, leaving us more tired to conduct business in the afternoon.

The simple response is to choose foods that will compliment your physical and mental lifestyle and determine not only the strategic times to eat but precise menu selections that will give you the most excellent chance of success throughout your trading day. Then, if need be, you can indulge after the workday is complete, but with plenty of time before bed, so your food doesn’t interrupt your sleep.

  1. Exercise Your Mind and Body

Exercise is another topic that doesn’t require reinventing the wheel. However, the reality is that trading lends itself to a very sedentary lifestyle. I recall gaining the most weight of my life, it was winter in a northern city, and my vocation was trading. There hardly seemed anything to do but sit behind a desk every waking moment; however, this became significantly unhealthy. Not only did it affect my weight, but carrying extra weight also affected my trading as I suffered from more significant fatigue and lesser energy.

One company I worked for realized that workers were gaining weight and living unhealthy in our sedentary lifestyle. This company brought in a consultant who gave an engaging lecture about healthy living. It is remarkable that with as little as fifteen minutes of exercise a day, how much potential there is to increase the quality and longevity of life.

One measure we can take as traders is to get a standing desk. I’ll trust you to look up the beneficial effects of such a work set-up, but I assure you that not only does standing behind a desk ensure a healthier approach to screen monitoring, but it also keeps me much more alert.

Secondly, I have found convenient ways to incorporate exercise into my trading routine. For example, I keep exercise equipment near my desk, and when I enter a trade, to combat the tension, I start working out while watching the results unfold. Regardless of the trade outcome, I am a winner because I am ensuring a healthier body. Furthermore, when I choose to sit at my desk, I utilize the stair climber machine to take about ten steps every time I stand up for any reason or return to my seat. So every time I get up and sit down, that totals twenty steps I’m climbing. If I make this trip ten times a day, that becomes two hundred steps I’ve climbed! 

  1. Clean Up Your Habits!

Having good trading habits is a key to long-term success in our field. As traders, it is equally vital that we master all other habits as well. Having been in the professional trading industry for 15+ years, I’ve either seen or heard of most everything. Traders tend to develop specific habits; it becomes part of countering our profession’s stress, anxiety, and overall uncertainty. 

I’ve seen habits become addictions, whether substances that are put into the body, including foods, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and energy drinks. I’ve also seen traders resort to gambling or sexual exploits to counter the high risk and demand lifestyle our vocation demands. The problem is that these habits become harmful additions both to our trading results, with other relationships, and to our physical, mental, and emotional health.

Yes, it is hard to clean up habits. However, my audience today is people who are willing to take on challenges. Undoubtedly, we have been told how unlikely it is to succeed at trading and that we may lose everything for many of us. Yet, for each of us, there is a drive to better ourselves and our living conditions. We are willing to climb the mountain and encounter anything to endure the process.

Accordingly, if we have the attributes to be successful at trading, I suggest that we can accomplish clean and safe habits, including sleep, diet, and exercise. These healthy habits are crucial to having a successful trading mentality. So, until next time, trade and live healthily!