Trader Tips
Feb. 6, 20206 min read

5 Ways For A Day Trader to Control the Emotional Rollercoaster

Tim BohenAvatar
Written by Tim Bohen

“I’m the best trader EVER!!!”

“Maybe I should hold onto this a bit longer so I can make even more…”

“Why are they earning more than me?!”

“What am I doing here?”

“This is too much work!”

“What a win! This is the best job ever!”

“That’s it, I’m giving up!”


Welcome to the Emotional Rollercoaster of Trading.

If you’ve never uttered at least one of these phrases while trading, chances are that you’ve never executed a trade in your life.

We get it.  You’re not a Vulcan.  And, as such, you are not void of all emotion—emotion that runs rampant through your super-fast-trading-calculating brain.

5 Ways For A Day Trader to Control the Emotional Rollercoaster

Every trader feels anger, greed, fear, and frustration.  Some of us, at least intermittently, feel anxious or fear that we may be missing out (some of us may even have a FOMO addiction).

But, it doesn’t have to be that way.  We’ve drafted a road map that will help you to navigate out of this emotional rollercoaster. Our to-do list will help you keep your emotions in check, when they threaten to ruin your trading day and your trading performance.

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#1. Accept That Some Things Are Simply Beyond Your Control

Trading is a lot easier, if you make your peace with this one thing, early in your trading career: we live in an imperfect world.  And, in this imperfect world, you won’t be able to control everything. You can’t control how the investment herd will react to the jobless claims report, pump and dump promotion or Fed interest rate hike. It’s maddening to try and control these uncontrollable factors. You’ll only waste your energy and emotions, by stressing over things that are beyond your control.

This knowledge and acceptance will preserve your emotional balance, when you deal with factors that are out of your reach. Instead, keep a close eye on everything that you can control and change.  This includes your study habits, how you use your time, your trading goals and more. The more energy you expend on things that are not in your control, the less energy will be available to you for things that you should be controlling.


#2. Take a Breath; Refocus   

Here is a popular and easy exercise to manage sudden emotional stress:

Slowly inhale through your nose. Exhale through your mouth. Count to ten.

Maybe that’s enough to calm your nerves.  Maybe now the compulsion to throw your laptop through a window has passed.  Maybe you’ve come down off your profit-high after a great trade and the compulsion to make an irrational trade has passed.

If not, it may take more than a breath.  Try a quick distraction or self-soothing behavior.  Go for a short walk or check out some cute cat gifs (which you don’t ever have to admit to).

5 Ways For A Day Trader to Control the Emotional RollercoasterSpend some time trying to figure out just how many licks it really does take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop.


Of course, any other non-destructive, self-calming and distracting behavior that you can think of will suffice, as well.


#3. Practice Regular Stress Relief  

5 Ways For A Day Trader to Control the Emotional RollercoasterThe lower your overall stress level, the less likely you will feel unwanted peak emotions when trading. So, it’s important to not wait until you’re feeling really stressed before you address it.  Make it a habit to be conscious of your overall stress level (not just moment-by-moment stress) and take strides to keep stress levels to a minimum. Low stress levels also help to keep your blood pressure down, because it’s known that stress increases heart rate and blood pressure.

This includes regular sleep and exercise, including walks–particularly in peaceful areas.  Spending time having fun—on a regular basis–is also key to keeping stress manageable.  Don’t assume that having fun is limited to one week out of the year when you’re on vacation.   

Do things regularly that you enjoy.  They will help you to relax—play your favorite song, build something or go hiking.  Spend time with friends and family. These activities will keep you on an even keel, rather than address a fleeting moment of high anxiety and stress.


#4. Be Mindful of the Bigger Picture

Regularly review your overall trading goal.  Review your stop and loss limits. Don’t let spur-of-the-moment greed, fear or anger override the trading goals and plans that you’ve made with a level-headed approach, when you drafted your strategy. Keep your eye on the ultimate prize! This will keep you away from euphoric illusion-delusional feeling that you own the world, when you score profit after profit. It will also keep you from throwing yourself into the ugly, crippling (and sometimes deadly-to-your-trading-account) jaws of revenge trading, when losses amass.

Last but certainly not least:


#5 Let Go and Move On

Have you had a bad day trading? Well, we’ve all had one (or fifty). Stop blaming yourself for things in the past.  Instead, look on the upside of that trade: what’s the lesson for you? What will you do differently next time? Not yesterday; tomorrow.

Learn to forgive others for situations that are out of your control. You can’t change people and you can’t be responsible for their mistakes.

Let go of your anger and don’t fear your next trade. No trade is exactly like the previous one. Just move on to your next goal.