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.