Most day traders understand that trading is a game of probabilities. We know that we should control our emotions and stay detached from the results of each trade. We have also read dozens of trading maxims that sound like these.
Don’t marry your positions.
Don’t be affected by fear and greed.
Be in the zone.
While these straightforward statements are great reminders, they are of little practical value. This is because they do not show you the exact action to take when you are actually trading.
Day trading requires focus. Day trading setups are fleeting. Hence, it is crucial for day traders to know exactly what to do to control their emotions while trading. They do not have time to ponder on vague statements.
What can you do exactly to control your emotions?
Follow these five day trader’s tricks if you have problems controlling your emotions.
1. TAKE A WALK AFTER EACH TRADE.
Even if it’s just for a minute.
Given the fast and furious nature of day trading, it is too easy to get trapped in the sea of emotions.
Walking away from your trading screen is a deliberate break in your trading tempo. It is a physical action that you take to control your trading tempo. This simple act clears your mind and reminds you that you are in control.
Listening to music also helps to detach you from the market.
The market does not drag you into a trade. Quite the opposite. You can walk away from the market any time you want. You are in control.
2. FIND OUT THE LEAST VOLATILE HOUR OF THE TRADING SESSION.
Read a book during that hour.
Most day trading strategies work best when price action is volatile. Trying to trade when a congested market leads to frustration. Anger follows. Then, your emotional dam is pretty much broken.
The easiest solution is take a break when the markets are going nowhere.
Plus, you get to read the latest novel from your favourite author.
However, do not read anything to do with trading. Trading books give you trading ideas. You might be tempted to try those ideas immediately. Trading ideas, before becoming part of a consistent trading plan, are losing propositions.
(For forex traders, you can use the Forex Volatility Calculator mentioned here to find out when not to trade.)
3. STOP TRADING AFTER THREE CONSECUTIVE WINS OR LOSSES.
Three consecutive wins make you feel like a super trader. You think that you cannot lose. You are invincible. You over-leverage and over-trade.
Three consecutive losses make you feel like a loser. You don’t want to lose. Your emotions explode. You revenge trade.
When a certain event happens for three times in a row, it is tough not to get affected by it. Let’s evade this problem altogether and stop trading after three consecutive wins or losses.
4. DON’T LOOK AT YOUR PROFIT AND LOSS WHILE YOU ARE TRADING.
I can hardly think of a figure that causes a greater surge of emotions than your profit and loss figure. To many traders, the profit and loss figure is an expression of their self-worth. (Nope. You are greater than just your profit and loss.)
If you follow the most important trading rule and have a daily loss limit in place, you are already protected from severe losses. Hence, you do not need to check your profit and loss figure constantly.
Whenever you feel like peeping at your profit and loss for the session, read your trading rules.
5. ASK YOURSELF: “AM I SCARED?”
Fear is an intense and destructive emotion that traders often encounter.
When you are watching your trades unfold, keep asking yourself: “Am I scared?”
At any point, if you answer “Yes”. Exit immediately.
Review your trading rules.
Reduce your trading size.
MASTER YOUR EMOTIONS FOR LONG-TERM DAY TRADING SUCCESS
Control over your emotions does not give you a trading edge. This is because your trading edge depends on your trading method. However, you need to master your emotions for long-term trading success.
With the five tricks above, your nerves will get a slow boat cruise instead of a roller coaster ride.
Learning to control your emotions requires persistence. Over time, you will start to perceive the benefits of keeping your emotions under control. These benefits serve as positive reinforcement to your brain to continue good emotional habits and responses.
It takes time. But if you persist, it does get easier.