Burnout pertains to the collapse of the mind and emotions due to overwork or stress causing a lack of motivation. The biggest misconception about burnout is that there is a single event that triggers it, but rather it is a gradual process that takes place over a period of time. Day trading is susceptible to burnout due to the many factors of excess stress: overtrading, extreme market conditions, unrealistic expectations, and losses. When a trader experiences these types of situations and feelings over time, it can cause burnout if the suggested tips are not considered. The one thing every trader should have is a strategy or a set of guidelines to follow to avoid mental and emotional stress.
Here are six ways to avoid burnout in trading:
1. Most Importantly, Know Yourself
There is no one else who can diagnose burnout besides yourself. You have to be self-aware to understand and pay attention to the warning signs. If you are at a point where you feel burnout on the horizon, take the time to ask yourself some important questions:
- Are you beginning to question why you should care about your trading plan?
- Do you feel a lack of motivation?
- Are you fatigued throughout the work day?
- Do you hold off a trade even though you know it is a losing trade?
- Are you exhausted after work?
- How much caffeine do you need?
These are the types of questions you should be asking yourself. Do not be concerned with burning out, but eager to implement the right strategy to get back in a positive direction. Burnout is common and the best solution is to recognize it early, and just make a few key adjustments to ensure a worthwhile time spent trading.
2. Take Breaks
As simple as it sounds, taking a short break is the best way to feel energized throughout the day and come back to trading more focused. If you spend all day in a chair staring at a computer screen, of course you are going to lose energy and experience fatigue over time. Sometimes the best thing to do is get some exercise or a short mental break. By periodically taking your mind off trading, you will come back more productive. Even taking 10 minutes to give your mind a break can increase your efficiency. You are at a disadvantage if you are not taking the time to give yourself a break. Find an activity to weave into your day that works, and you will begin to notice both mental and physical benefits.
3. Mix It Up
One of the main triggers in burnout is doing the same thing every day. The more time spent doing the same thing over and over, the less value and intrinsic motivation is placed towards it. Find a way to mix up your daily routine of a repetitive process and find a way to approach situations differently. Whether this is innovating your trading process or finding a way to change things up weekly or daily, this will keep every day a little bit different.
4. Delegate \ Collaborate
Doing it all yourself results in stress and anxiety, so a helpful step to make your day more productive is to have a support team. Having a team or colleague who is able to take on some of the pressure and stress makes your work load more manageable. It is important you have someone who you can ask for help and guidance. By bringing someone else on, it may alleviate the pressure from that time and give you the energy to focus on the important tasks of the day.
5. Pick a Stop Time
As counterintuitive as it sounds, picking a stop time can actually result in longer lasting motivation. In the short term, you may feel you are not able to accomplish your to-do list, but over time it is worthwhile investment. You will learn to be more productive before the time cutoff, and start the next day looking forward to continuing the work from the previous day. Picking a stop time will separate your work and life balance. If picking a stop time is unrealistic, think of other rules that can accomplish the same thing.
Here is a list of possible rules:
- Not checking the market first thing in the morning.
- Do not bring your work laptop/computer home.
- No computer in bed.
- No work on Saturday.
The goal is to not follow every rule, but rather select or make your own that works best. The main point is to not let work control your life, and to discover a healthy balance.
6. Never Let Your Emotions Get Carried Away
It is important to utilize discipline and think about the market as a whole, and not be tied up in the microtransactions. Put your emotions on trades you can control, and this will lead to greater productivity. Day trading involves a level of risk and uncertainty, so focus your efforts on what you can and should control to keep your emotions in balance. The positive and negative swings can be emotionally stressful, and it is important to not get caught up in small losses or gains. Don’t spend your energy wrapped up in individual successes and failures of each day, as that will drain your energy. Treat each day as a step in the right direction, whether there is a gain or loss.