I was trolling through PubMed the other day searching for a particular paper when I got distracted as I am want to do. The internet is a wonderful thing for getting lost looking at various papers. Back in the day this sort of distracted quest was impossible simply because you would have to spend hours in the stacks searching for a given paper or risk using the microfiche which in most people’s case lead to ruining the rest of the day with motion sickness. For those who are too young to known what a microfiche is imagine trying to read a street directory whilst locked upside down inside a high speed centrifuge having had a strawberry milk shake and half a dozen potato cakes for lunch.
Whilst distracted I came across the following paper; Chronic psychological stress impairs recovery of muscular function and somatic sensations over a 96-hour period. To save you reading it here are the potted details. Researches were primarily interested in the effect of life stress upon recovery from heavy exercise. To test this they set up a protocol involving the Perceived Stress Scale and the Undergraduate Stress Questionnaire which looks at perceptions of stress. They then had the students perform a heavy resistance exercise task, in this instance a 10 repetition maximum set on the leg press. This was then followed immediately by 6 sets of 80-100% of the 10 rep maximum. For those who don’t understand the jargon it simply means they made them go as hard as they could on the first set and then hit them again with a slightly reduced work protocol for the second set. How the students pulled up was measured 24 hours after the stress test. The recovery data was then subjected to the usual statistical barrage that these things get.
The finding was that life stress impacted upon recovery – the higher their perceived level of life stress the slower the recovery of the students, this also included fatigue and muscle soreness. In effect they took longer to get going again.
The issue here is that we only have a single reservoir for dealing with stress be it physical or psychological. The students in this test who took longer to recover were subjected to stress from two events. The physical shock of the actual test combined with higher perceived life stresses. There is not a separate bucket for dealing with physical stress and another one for dealing with life stress; we do not dip into these separately to deal with events as separate and distinct. The same will obviously be true for any stressful endeavour, it is hard for us to unpack the causes and impacts of our stress and then assign them to a given ledger and leave it at that. This will be true for trading; stress in other areas of our lives will adversely impact upon our trading. Whilst, we all aim to simply be in the moment when trading and therefore devoid of as much stress as possible this very Zen approach is very hard to attain and there are times when trading is stressful. If this is occurring at a time when other events in your life are generating stress then the impact will most likely be magnified.