Trading and mental health
Whether you’re a novice trader or have been dealing with currency pairs for years, one thing is absolutely sure and certain… you’re going to experience a level of stress at some point.
Trading is full of ups and downs, and trading the markets is inherently risky, which can definitely take its toll if you’re not careful, especially if you’ve been on a losing streak or you feel as though you’re starting to lose control.
Before you know it, your heart rate starts to rise, your muscles tense up, your stomach starts to cramp, your head starts to ache… and your trading starts to suffer.
Emotion really has no place in forex trading and being led by your heart instead of your brain can lead you down the garden path, so it’s essential that you do all you can to keep your emotions fully in check, promoting good mental health and wellbeing both on and off the trading floor to ensure that you can achieve the levels of success you’re striving for.
And speaking of garden paths, one of the very best ways to go about prioritising good mental health is to embrace the concept of biophilia, a move that could change your outlook, how you think, how you feel… and how you trade.
Literally translated to ‘love of life’, biophilia is all about being driven by the need to connect with nature and all other living things. The idea is that by embracing the power of nature, you can have a significant influence over your mental health, your home and workplace, your thoughts and views, your hobbies and your goals.
As traders, we spend a huge amount of time plugged into technology, as far removed from the natural world as possible. We recently blogged about the dangers of too much screen time and, although technology is essential in order for us to complete our trades and to devise a winning trading strategy, it’s important to offset this wherever you can… and biophilia is the perfect antidote to a tech overdose.
It’s thought that the term ‘biophilia’ was first coined by psychologist Erich Fromm, but later popularised by Edward Wilson who wrote a book called… you guessed it… Biophilia! The Harvard biologist turned author argues in this worthy tome that our attraction to nature is genetically predetermined and down to evolution.
For example, the reason we appreciate flowers is that their appearance on plants is a signal that fruit would soon be arriving, a much-needed food source. And we’re drawn to cute little baby animals because enjoying close relationships with animals and protecting them gave us an evolutionary advantage and engendered a powerful nurturing instinct for our own children.
What’s interesting to note is that, from an evolutionary perspective, people with greater connections to the landscape and the natural world, as well as animals and water sources, were simply more likely to survive than those who were detached from these resources… and this kind of survival instinct through an attachment with nature could certainly serve you well as a trader, now and well into the future.
How can nature help mental health?
Nature is hugely important in keeping us in fine fettle, emotionally, psychologically and physically – and what’s particularly good about it is that, for mental health, the definition of what constitutes nature is incredibly wide, so there are many different avenues you can explore to bring more of it into your life for the benefit of your general health and wellbeing.
Most obviously, perhaps, is the act of getting out and about in the countryside, exploring local parks in your community or going further afield and really heading out into the wild. One key wellness trend doing the rounds right now is forest bathing, which is something you could try if you’re looking for a serious mental health boost right now.
A stroll on the beach, a dip in the ocean, wild swimming, a stroll along the canal, exploring local wetlands… these all represent excellent wellness opportunities as well. But what do you do if you don’t have the time to get outside as much as you’d like?
Well, if you are pushed for time (which many traders are), there are still ways in which you can bring the outdoors in and use biophilia to the advantage of your health and wellbeing.
The most obvious way to do this is to fill your home with house plants, but make sure that you choose your varieties wisely so you know they’ll fit in with your lifestyle.
There are plenty of plant species out there that are practically unkillable and which don’t need much maintenance or looking after in order to survive and these might be the best option if you’re new to the wonderful world of houseplants.
Interestingly, studies show that increased urbanisation is linked to increased levels of mental health problems like depression and anxiety. But conversely, growing up in the countryside and more rural settings are linked to less acute stress responses, while exposure to green outdoor spaces has a strong association with a positive effect on wellbeing.
Even sounds and images of the natural world have been found to decrease stress levels in people, so you actually don’t even need to be outside in order to take advantage of the biophilic effect.
With a bit of clever design ideas and a few touches here and there, you could quite easily create a space at home that puts biophilia at its heart and helps to promote feelings of calm, serenity and peace… which will certainly help you as a trader when faced with stressful and challenging situations.
Biophilic interior design
Research in the field of environmental psychology (which looks into how our spaces – both natural and manmade – can impact our health, mental processes and the way we socialise) suggests that buildings serve us the best when they reflect the natural world, taking into account sound, lighting, pattern and dimension.
As such, developing a deeper understanding of biophilia can help you create spaces at home or at work that support your mental health on a more involved level, promoting positive wellbeing.
The principle behind biophilic design is to use as many natural materials as possible, while maximising natural light and green plans – and your limit really is your imagination in this regard!
Although it can be tricky to achieve and get right first time if you’re not a professional interior designer, we’re very lucky to be blessed with the internet these days and you’ll find lots of inspiration on the information superhighway.
This article on the Dezeen website, for example, has an impressive array of different houses that focus on biophilia and it could give you lots of ideas for your own spaces at work and at home.
Check out the Jungle house in Sydney, for example, which was designed by architecture studio CplusC Architectural Workshop. The site is partly made from recycled materials and features an aquaponics system (complete with edible fish) and has its own rooftop vegetable garden so that even those who live in more urban environments can enjoy a closer relationship with nature.
Or what about the Wall House in Vietnam, designed by CTA? This architectural feat has been made from hole-punctured bricks and features a central atrium to create a courtyard-feel to the home. Around the periphery of the space you’ll find lots of trees and luscious leafy green plants that make it feel almost as if you’re living in a garden.
Furthermore, the use of the hole-punctured bricks means that the house is almost able to breathe by itself day by day, helping to improve air quality throughout the property.
And then there’s The Cork Studio in the UK, constructed by Studio Bark… a space that’s made almost entirely from cork! This is a great natural material to consider bringing into your home because it can be completely recycled, reused elsewhere and it can even be composted, so it’s a true powerhouse if you’re looking to embrace sustainability at home.
The studio was made using discarded granules from a wine cork manufacturer and it was built around an existing sycamore tree growing onsite, making the interior of the space feel very much like a grownup treehouse.
Of course, some of this will be practical and easy to bring into your own home, while other ideas may not be quite as achievable… but it’s certainly excellent food for thought if you’re keen to really promote good mental health and wellbeing at home with a view to boosting your performance as a trader this year.
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