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Best practice for top trading performance: biofeedback (EmWave personal stress reliever)

Brett N. Steen­barger , Ph.D. Asso­ciate Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chi­a­try and Behav­ioral Sci­ences at SUNY Upstate Med­ical Uni­ver­sity, active trader for over 30 years, for­mer Direc­tor of Trader Devel­op­ment for Kingstree Trad­ing, LLC, author of The Psy­chol­ogy of Trad­ing and the new Enhanc­ing Trader Per­for­mance, and of the blog Trader­Feed: Exploit­ing the edge from his­tor­i­cal mar­ket pat­terns, is writ­ing a great col­lec­tion of best prac­tices for traders (many of which are very rel­e­vant for all high-pressure occupations).

He wrote a great arti­cle a few weeks ago on the value of biofeed­back in achiev­ing self con­trol, and now deep­ens the dis­cus­sion with this best prac­tice for traders.

Both arti­cles are a fun read-here go some quotes from the most recent one

  • This best prac­tice describes biofeed­back as a tool for per­for­mance enhance­ment among traders. It empha­sizes that the role of biofeed­back is to keep us in touch with our (implicit) knowl­edge, not to elim­i­nate emo­tion from the decision-making process.”
  • we want to con­trol the level of cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal arousal so that we retain access to exper­tise that is already present. Biofeed­back is a pow­er­ful tool for achiev­ing such cog­ni­tive and phys­i­cal con­trol.”
  • “Through struc­tured prac­tice, peo­ple can learn to sys­tem­at­i­cally improve their abil­ity to enter and remain in states of calm focus. Such abil­ity is impor­tant to trad­ing (and many other per­for­mance activ­i­ties), not because it elim­i­nates emo­tion, but because it pre­serves our access to the somatic mark­ers that rep­re­sent our mar­ket feel. The heart rate vari­abil­ity feed­back is par­tic­u­larly user friendly, because it is com­puter based and can track progress both in prac­tice ses­sions and in real time performance.”
  • “Using the Freeze-Framer pro­gram, audi­ble sig­nals tell the user when he or she is expe­ri­enc­ing high, medium, or low “coher­ence”, which is a mea­sure of emo­tional reg­u­la­tion. On-screen games require the user to keep a float­ing bal­loon in the air, for instance, based upon sus­tained medium and high read­ings. I recently had an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence dur­ing one feed­back ses­sion: I sus­tained a high level of the bal­loon, but then clicked a wrong but­ton on the screen and erased my data acci­den­tally! After that frus­tra­tion, it was *much* harder for me to keep the bal­loon in the air. It was a nice illus­tra­tion of the impact of frus­tra­tion even sev­eral min­utes after an event.”

You can learn more about this best prac­tice for Traders and other high-pressure occu­pa­tions where learn­ing how to iden­tify and man­age our emo­tions and lev­els of stress is crit­i­cal for performance.

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