Taking a break can be truly transformative. Just look at Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. Rumor has it she had an idea for a new product line for her company on a relaxing walk. This idea — a specific type of shapewear — turned out to be one of the most successful products Spanx ever released. She even created a fake commute, and she still gets up an hour early before she’s supposed to go to work.
Putting your work on pause, like Sara Blakely did, can help you, too. This can be especially important when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or stuck in a rut. If any of these feelings seem relevant, give yourself permission to take a break and try any of the following activities:
“It’s a very potent intervention to be physically active,” says Anders Hovland, a clinical psychologist at the University of Bergen in Norway.
When you exercise, your bodies release endorphins, which can help you feel happier and more relaxed. But beyond this immediate mood boost, research shows that exercise can help traders build tolerance for internal discomfort and stress. As you’ll likely agree, it’s a valuable skill in the fast-paced and often unpredictable world of trading.
If you’re doing it in the middle of the day, stop exercising while you still have a positive feeling to avoid feeling exhausted afterward.
Spend time in nature
It’s safe to assume that you spend much of your time indoors and in front of screens. And you probably know that staring at charts and numbers all day can be mentally draining. That’s why spending time in nature is a great way to clear your mind (and recharge your body).
If possible, take a hike in the woods or go for a swim in the ocean. But you can also simply sit outside and take in the sights and sounds around you.
The best thing about meditation is that you don’t need any special equipment or training to meditate. All you need is a willingness to try something new and a few minutes of free time.
Remember to disable notifications or just leave your computer and phone in another room. This may seem scary, but your mind (and your trading account) will thank you later. So why not give it a shot?
Read a book
A good book has the power to transport you to another world from the very first line.
If you want to disconnect fully, choose a book that’s not directly related to trading or the financial world. There are so many novels, memoirs, and non-fiction books on completely unrelated topics, so you are sure to find something that appeals to your interests.
Engage in a hobby
For a sense of balance in your life, consider taking up a hobby like:
- Cooking or baking to unwind and experiment with new recipes
- Gardening to feel a connection to nature and cultivate patience and persistence (very important for traders!)
- Music to explore your creative side and develop a new skill
- Painting or drawing to express themselves in new ways
- Learning a new language to expand your cultural knowledge (and perhaps explore new opportunities for trading in international markets?)
Take a nap
“You don’t want to become too comfortable and sleep for too long, since this may make it difficult to wake up,” says Lauren Broch, PhD, a sleep psychologist at Northwell Health.
Research has shown that a 20- to 30-minute “power nap” is the sweet spot for boosting productivity and cognitive function. Such short naps shouldn’t cause grogginess or interfere with nighttime sleep. To make the most of out, try to fit the nap between 1 and 3 p.m. to be in sync with the natural circadian rhythm.
All these activities are very simple, so there’s no excuse not to try them!
Exercise boosts the brain — and mental health, Knowable Magazine
Thriving with nature, Mental Health Foundation
How to take a nap: benefits of napping and steps to take, Healthline