Let’s be honest, crypto currency is awesome. It is the future of our financial systems and blockchain as a whole has the potential to revlutionize our social system in general. Also trading crypto offers a huge potential for short and long-term gains, so much that over the years a whole community of enthusiast and traders emerged, that understood exactly this potential. However, Im afraid there is a huge flipside to this (bit)coin (sorry, I couldn’t resists :D) and not nearly enough people are talking about it. In this article I would like to shine a light on the not so bright aspects of trading crypto. More specifically, the effects it can have on your mental health.
Just like “normal” trading, the crypto world is faced with the same stress and insecurity resulting from, just on a much greater scale. The imense volatility of the crypto market is of course part of why it is so appealing, but it also amplifies our innate emotional tendencies for fear, worry, anxiety and depression. Research is quite clear about the detrimental mental health effects of loosing a large amount of wealth, but also of suddenly gaining large amounts. Sounds familiar to you? This is because for many traders the swing between these two states is part of their daily experience.
If your mind would operate like a machine this would’nt be of much concern. You would be able to quickly adjust your strategy based on current trends to either reverse your loss or maximize your gains. (Un)fortunately however, you are still equipped with a human brain and therefore subject to emotions. And it is exactly this subjectivity to emotions that can make you suffer from fomo or impatience and ultimately cause you to make rash decisions leading to losses or smaller gains. I am sure it has become clear now why it is important to become aware of your human tendency to be enslaved by your emotions and understand how this can limit your success as a trader and ruin your mental health.
But why exactly does it ruin your mental health? Because our human biology has not evolved much over the past several millennia. Yet our environment has and quite drastically as well. Basically, we are still wild homo sapiens, sitting in front of a screen which shapes our internal reality for a major part of the day. But our mind is not very good at distinguishing between the inner and the outer world. Both can be terribly real, as I am sure most of you can attest. When we were still hunter and gatherers, fear and stress was usually short and intense in nature. Think a buffalo chasing us, or another tribe attacking. Yes sounds intense, maybe even more so than the last bitcoin drop, but in contrast to a market change we were physically and psychologically equipped for dealing with those fight or flight situations. Our whole nervous system has evolved for just that. But what happens in situations where we have no control over what’s happening, while sitting in front of a screen? Our brain and body are confused, we receive mixed signals and we have no means of dealing with it. No one ever taught us. So there we are sitting in front of the computer, pumped with adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones that our body produces as a response to the recent loss. Our prefrontal cortext (logical thinking area of the brain) is temporarily shut off by the limbic system (emotional brain) which is now dominating our behaviour. And this is exactly the point where we make very very stupid decision, which in the case of trading, can have far reaching effects leading only to more emotional tumult. You see the vicious cycle that is slowly creeping up here?
Being in this constant fight or flight state with stress hormones pumping through your veins is not only terribly for your portfolio but also for your mental & physical health. Long term stress is the leading cause for anxiety, depression and causes inflammation in your body which when maintained for long can turn into an array of other inflammatory based diseases.
Before I freak you out even more, there is something you can do about it to help stay healthy and happy: Yoga.
Yoga is an ancient science made to master the body & mind for spiritual elevation. Don’t worry I’m not trying to make you become a monk and retreat into the Himalayas renunciating your life altogether. On the contrary, I want you to become even more successful at what your doing so you can have your share in making this world a better place for everyone. The way you can do this is by using yogic techniques such as Asana (Yoga Postures), Pranayama (Breathwork) and Meditation. These techniques have been tested and refined over the past thousands of years and are extremely efficient at improving your physical and mental health. But especially, they are great at distancing yourself from your emotional reactivity and become a more rational thinking human being with immense logical capablities.
Countless studies have shown that meditation alone reduces stress, improves mental health and strengthens your prefrontal cortex, making you less susceptible to emotional reactions. Sounds great, right? Yes and no. Yes because everyone can do it, but no because meditation is not that easy. I am sure that many of you who have tried it before have experienced how difficult it can be to quieten the monkey in our mind and enter into a meditative state – even more so when you are approaching it from a place of stress and anxiety. Luckily, the science of yoga has understood this long ago and developed techniques to help our distracted minds to slowly ease into and reap the benefits of meditaiton. Focussing on the practices of Asana and Pranayama first can help us to achieve more stillness by balancing our nervous system and also help us to feel more comfortable in our bodies while sitting still in mediation.
If you are interested in learning more about these practices check out my eBook “Ancient Wisdom, Modern Success – A Scientific Investigation of the Health & Performance benefits of Yoga” or my online Course “The Involution Program” giving you a 4 Step approach to learn and understand the practices and philosophy of Yoga. I also offer free guided live classes in order to stay updated with the schedule follow me on Instagram and Twitch.