Last week, I penned my Seven Stressbusters
column and invited you all to submit suggestions. And submit you did. Thankfully, too, because today Gary B. needs those tips!
Is it bad trading? A sour market? Heavy losses? No, it's far, far worse: Today I am decamped in the
Maryland Department of Motor Vehicles
, doing the registration, license, tags and title dance. (Yes, I know I've been in the Terrapin State awhile, but I just
this visit and have been putting it off for months.) And as I'm now on hour three, I do have one general question: Why is every DMV
crowded? I mean, does every single person in the entire state need to do something auto-related every single day?
In any event, I am in serious need of some chillin', so these tips come at a good time. Read on -- there's something here for everyone!
Many folks like spending time in the outdoors ...
"One half-hour midday weeding, tilling and tending my garden."
-- Barry Brierly
"I take the dog for a walk."
-- Jon Olden
"I like to ride my bike around the neighborhood."
-- Kimm Wanroy
While others go for inside things ...
"I go offline and play pinball -- computer pinball, that is. My favorite time-waster."
-- Carole Griffith
"One of my methods in addition to the midday break for exercise is to work on necessary paperwork after the exercise break before even thinking about the market. That way, I feel as though I am not ignoring the normal day-to-day administration of necessary paper flow that we must all take care of but hate."
-- Vic Brungart
Of course, an occasional vice or two can be OK ...
"I go straight for the bottle, light up a cigarette, line up my shots of espresso, brood over my losses and go straight to my online gambling site for high-intensity games of blackjack. To each their own."
-- Scott Zion
But for others, maybe not ...
"Avoid stimulants. Caffeine can produce a false sense of urgency; alcohol leads inevitably to trading catastrophes."
-- Brad W.
Many have learned that trading is but one part of life ...
"I drink my morning cup of joe from a promotional cup from the
Twilight Monument Co.
On the front is one of their products. It helps me keep things in their correct order -- family, friends and on down the line. You never know when that final margin call will come."
-- C. Allgood
... by focusing on friends ...
"Socialize with non-daytraders at least twice a week for at least two hours, and don't talk about daytrading while you socialize."
-- Rick Neaton
... family ...
"When the market closes at 2 p.m. my time, I turn off the computer, close the books and
the market for five hours. I play with my kids, just play."
-- Shawn Turpen
... and those less fortunate.
"I try to do some volunteer/charity work each week. I find that this really helps me keep things in perspective on those days when the market seems like it's out to get you. When you spend a little time helping the truly unfortunate, you are grateful to go home to a nice house and a healthy family, and suddenly a couple of losing trades seem pretty insignificant."
-- Dave Wittenborn
Attitude is certainly important ...
"Laugh at yourself, laugh at the expense of others, laugh at things that you probably shouldn't. It's not always kind, but I'll sacrifice manners for stress relief any time."
-- Richard Savage
As is distancing yourself from the market ...
"Avoid getting quotes every single minute during the trading day.
It simply drives you nuts!
I sit in front of my screen in the morning for the first hour, then I get quotes every half-hour or hour until 3 p.m., then I sit down for the last hour. My days have been much more productive and way more enjoyable since I have adopted this strategy."
-- Philippe Denolf
"Putting the closed-captioning function on the TV on silencing all the
talking heads, which if audible break my concentration and can lead to hearing something that might pop me out of a good trade when it should not have!"
-- Anthony Ostrowe
Of course, many prefer to tackle the market head on ...
"Go all cash. No matter what opportunities I miss, no money is flowing out of my wallet."
-- Christopher Burian
"Nothing puts my mind at ease like a protective stop. Riding a position down, down, down is stressful."
-- Madison Moseley
"I think one of the most important ways to relieve stress is to take profits out of the market and into a savings account."
-- Troy Duncan
Finally, some pick and choose from a variety of categories ...
- "Smoke a cigar -- hard to be uptight with a fine cigar.
Take the day off. Many times when I have been in a 'slump,' just getting away for the day while everyone else was trading proved to be the best thing I could have done.
Go out for lunch; set your stops and leave. If the stock turns against you, your stop will take care of things. If it keeps going your way, no harm done (just make sure you reset the stops upward if need be).
Go to school with your kids. I don't have any of my own, but I went to preschool with my nephew once, and I got a whole new perspective on things.
Write the next great American novel -- great therapy."
-- David Hilburn
But if all else fails, then there are always two ways to go:
Your friends at
"I find reading
to be a stressbuster. By providing me with an explanation of the market's inner workings and by showing that there are other investors/traders who are also feeling my pain,
acts as my mentor and supporter."
-- C. Airo
And, the Big Guy upstairs ...
-- J.L. Bragg
Gary B. Smith is a freelance writer who trades for his own account from his Maryland home using technical analysis. At time of publication, he held no positions in any securities mentioned in this column, although holdings can change at any time. Under no circumstances does the information in this column represent a recommendation to buy or sell stocks. Smith writes five technical analysis columns for TheStreet.com each week, including Technician's Take, Charted Territory and TSC Technical Forum. While he cannot provide investment advice or recommendations, he welcomes your feedback at