Investing in Stress Reduction
Investing is stressful. You can't avoid it. No one can.
To Stress and To Stress Not
Investing is stressful. You can’t avoid it. No one can. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that they can. The solution may be to practice the art of distraction. I will now discuss some of the most cogent methods. We need to learn when to stress and when to stress not.
Take Two Danish and Call Me On the Close?
Yes, eating something (generally anything) is a classic cure for stress. But how do you eat? Or, more importantly what do you eat? If you create a story around your favorite stress snack, so much the better. This is my story. I go to an obscure Vermont bakery (don’t ask where and I will never tell.) They have Danish pastry baked by a Danish pastry chef (He is actually from Denmark and man can he bake.) Really. He makes the best Danish in the world. If you have to, you can eat two. I have verified that. This makes the closing prices (whatever they are) easier to swallow.
Don Your Best Birthday Suit
Another way to reduce stress is to simply distance yourself from the market. My regular practice is to just get into the indoor pool (the swim against the current kind). Let’s face it; anyone in the markets is really swimming against the current anyway. I put the wireless TV on the edge of the pool and turn on a Financial News Program. That way, I can see the stock ticker in between swimming strokes. With the sound off, the market makes more sense anyway. Contrary to most fashion pundits, I proffer that it is not what you wear; it is about what you are wearing when you are not wearing anything. I always swim in my best birthday suit. I usually have naked positions on anyway. Sometimes the best dressed man is actually, undressed. If you are really stressed, try taking your shorts off. It really helps.
Read more about stress in the workplace in these titles: The Key to Stress Is Perception by Tom Hanson, and Toddo's War Stories: Stay Humble Or The Market Will Do It For You and War Stories Redeux.
Missing on the Links
Professor Jeff Macke mentioned recently that on Fed days he feels that it is more useful to “go golfing” rather then “stay on screen.” This wisdom supports the psychic benefits of intentional distraction. But, the real question is, how do you golf? As the members of the James Braid Society say: “There is a difference between being a “hitter of golf balls” and, being a “golfer.” An example of a genuine “missing on the links” experience is to walk the Bethpage Black course on Long Island. That is how to go “missing.” The bunkers are deeper than any bid/offer spread and the par fours seem as long as an earnings conference call. If you are in Scotland (a good stress reduction initiative on its own) a round of golf at Cruden Bay or on the Crail golf course will suffice. Indeed, they will excel. Why? Because the last time I walked Bethpage Black, one of the guys in the foursome was actually trading stocks from his phone on the fairway… throughout the round. I kid you not. No one playing golf at Crail will be trading on the course. If you are playing golf and feel a need for communication, I suggest that you consult your psychic caddie. More on that another time... Remember, digression is a special form of distraction.
Combinations Not To Combine
It is possible to combine some of these methodologies but not in every case. Yes, I have eaten a Danish on the golf course. Fine. And, yes, I have swung a golf club, while naked, in the pool (underwater.) Fine. But some investors may find themselves in the following deadly de-stress disaster combination: If you are fully clothed, in front of the screen, eating a Danish and dreaming of playing golf, you are only enhancing rather than reducing your stress. Please, choose your combinations carefully.
To Stress Not
There are other more advanced forms of stress reduction which we may save for another time. These techniques range from breathing exercises to shopping sprees for underwear with your wife. But, I digress and, that is the point. Feeling better now?
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