Trading can be an extremely stressful activity to undertake. At times its can invoke anxious and stressful reactions resulting in negative mental and physical symptoms that not only affect our bottom line, but also our health overtime.
An excellent tool you can use to center yourself and reduce trading stress is conscious breathing. Below we have compiled 7 different breathing techniques that you can use to bring yourself back into the zone and reduce the negative long term effects of stress.
1. Standard Belly Breathing
Standing, sitting or lying flat on your back, place both your hands gently on your belly so that you will be able to easily feel your belly moving. Relax your belly. You may practice this with eyes open or eyes closed. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose slowly and deeply and allow your belly to gently rise as do so. Exhale through your nose slowly and deeply and allow your belly to gently fall as you do so.
You can breathe this way for as long you as wish, to bring yourself to a state of physical relaxation, mental and emotional calm, and even a sense of overall vitality. The beauty of belly breathing is that you can do it anywhere, any time. It is an always accessible, effective and reliable tool to employ whenever you feel negative emotions.
2. Lengthening Breathing
Utilizing the standard belly breathing technique above, once you feel comfortable with the natural motion of your belly rising and falling, focus now on inhaling slowly and deeply to the count of three, and exhaling slowly and deeply to the count of three. Repeat this 10 times. Next, focus on inhaling slowly and deeply to the count of four, and exhaling slowly and deeply to the count of four. Repeat this 10 times. Next, focus on inhaling slowly and deeply to the count of five, and exhaling slowly and deeply to the count of five. Repeat this 10 times. Finally, focus on inhaling slowly and deeply to the count of six, and exhaling slowly and deeply to the count of six.
If you wish to make this a more meditative practice, you can close your eyes while breathing and counting. However, you can effectively practice this lengthening breathing in any environment, at any time.
3. Ocean Breathing
Utilizing the standard belly breathing technique, focus on drawing the air against the back of your nasal cavity and throat along the airway into the lungs as you slowly and deeply inhale and exhale, to make a noticeable sound as you breathe. It is the sound you might imagine hearing if you put a seashell to your ear, hence the name “Ocean” breathing. It is also the sound you might imagine hearing from someone who is breathing loudly as they sleep, you can hear their breath drawing in and out of their airways.
As you relax your belly, letting it rise and fall to your inhales and exhales, place all of your attention on the sound of your breathing. This can be a meditative practice with your eyes closed.
4. Countdown Breathing
Utilizing the standard belly breathing technique, focus on counting your breathing, starting at 100, counting down to 1. Each inhale is one count, each exhale is one count. Breathe in 100, breathe out 99, breathe in 98, breathe out 97, breathe in 96, breathe out 95 and so on.
This is a meditative practice best done with your eyes closed either sitting or laying flat. The counting allows you to keep your mind focused, and the challenge of counting backwards keeps your attention keenly on your mind/body connection.
5. Sniff & Pant Breathing
This technique is energizing and relieves tension, and is best practiced in a seated position. Sit up straight, place your hands in your lap and close your mouth to begin. Completely relax your belly so that it naturally will rise and fall in sync with your breathing. Your inward breath will be four short, sharp inhales through the nose and your outward breath will be one long, loud and empowered “ha” sounding breath out of your mouth to empty your lungs. Think of “4 sniffs and one pant”.
This can be practiced for whatever length of time you wish. You may notice yourself feeling light headed with the increased oxygen from short, sharp, consecutive inhales. You can stop the breathing at any time if you feel dizzy, and remain sitting in a relaxed seated position until that sensation dissipates. Do not practice this technique if you already feel light headed, nor if you have any health conditions that may be adversely affected by it.
6. Alternate Nostril Breathing
This technique is best practiced sitting. Rest your left hand on your left upper leg, and raise your right hand up to your forehead. Place the tips of both your index and middle fingers together between your eyebrows. Now rest your thumb on your right nostril, and rest both your ring and little fingers on your left nostril. You will be using these fingers to open and close the nostrils during this breathing technique, keeping your mouth closed the entire time. To begin, press your thumb down on your right nostril to close it and exhale fully out of your left nostril. Inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril, and at the peak of your inhale press your ring and little finger down on the left nostril to close it and release your thumb from the right nostril, then exhale out slowly and deeply through the right nostril. Now, inhale slowly and deeply through your right nostril, and at the peak of your inhale press your thumb down on the right nostril to close it and release your ring and little finger from the left nostril, then exhale out slowly and deeply through the left nostril.
Repeat this process, breathing out and in one nostril, then switching to breathe out and in the alternate nostril. Whenever you exhale out one nostril, you always inhale through that same nostril, before switching.
This technique, once you are familiar with the instructions, is best practiced with your eyes closed.
7. Mantra Breathing
Utilizing the standard belly breathing technique, your consciousness awareness can be placed on a life-affirming and empowering mantra. Write down two short, simple and positive statements that reinforce the way you want to feel.
For example, “I am relaxed” and “I am confident”. As you inhale through your nose, state your first mantra to yourself (within your mind). As you exhale through your nose, state your second mantra to yourself (within your mind). For example, breathe in “I am relaxed” and breathe out “I am confident”. Repeat this over and over again for as long as you wish. This connects soul, mind and body.
How do you deal with stress? Share your thoughts in the comments below.