Psychology of Trading, Part 8

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Neurotransmitters – Practical Applications

In this article we will conclude our series by discussing some practical applications on how to manage neurotransmitters through healthy, natural activities.  I hope you have enjoyed the series, and have found a few nuggets to improve your trading and life. 

Sleep is an edge when it comes to trading and emotion.  Sleep works to restore and rejuvenate the brain, removing waste products, and optimizing cognitive ability, behavior, and judgement.  Whether it is 8+ hours of sleep at night, or a cat nap during lunch, the benefits of sleep can be seen through a clear and relaxed mind.

The Neuroprotective Aspects of Sleep

Most of us are deficient in the amount of magnesium that our body and brain needs, largely due to our diet.  Magnesium must either be consumed via diet or supplement.  The body needs magnesium to create neurotransmitters, and for the neurotransmitters to transmit.  There are numerous benefits to supplementation of magnesium.  Of note that I have found are: noticeable relaxation and reduced stress, improved sleep, improved digestive health.

Magnesium:  The Missing Link to Mental Health?
Magnesium & Stress

Ever heard of the runner’s high?  The high you are feeling is from neurotransmitters being released.  Swimming is my preferred form of exercise.  Most days after the market closes you’ll find me swimming laps at our community’s recreation center.  Swimming not only burns calories, but has been shown to improve mood, relieve stress/depression, improve sleep, memory, as well as overall health.

Four Brain Benefits of Swimming
Neuromodulation of Aerobic Exercise

Exercise not your thing?  How about a massage instead?  Massage has been proven to reduce cortisol, while increasing serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

Cortisol decreases and serotonin and dopamine increase following massage therapy
The Benefits of Massage Therapy for Mental Health

Infared Sauna
The infared sauna has become my secret weapon of late.  Infared saunas are safe, and have been around for decades.  Instead of warming the air around you, they work to directly heat your body.  Who knew simply sitting in an infared sauna and sweating could burn up to 600 calories, while boosting serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins?  After 45 minutes to and hour in the sauna, you will leave feeling refreshed, relaxed, and stress free.

Infared Sauna Benefits
Improve Mental Health with Regular Sauna Routine


Whether you are walking outside, sunbathing, or heading across town to get lunch with the sunroof open, sunlight can have numerous benefits on your mood and emotions.  Sunlight has been shown to increase serotonin as well as endorphins.

Benefits of Sunlight

No, I have never smoked marijuana.  However, a good friend of mine turned me on to the benefits of CBD oil this year.  For this past six months I have added it to my daily supplement routine, along with magnesium.  CBD oil is derived from marijuana, but the component THC, which causes you to get high, is removed.  The effects of CBD oil can be seen in reduced stress/anxiety/fatigue, pain relief, increased relaxation and calm, as well as improvements in sleep and digestion.  I typically take CBD in the afternoon, before swimming, as I have found it enhances the relaxing effects of swimming.

CBD Oil for Mental Health
How CBD is Changing Mental Health Treatment
7 Benefits of Using CBD Oil

Flotation Therapy
This was a new one I tried this year, and loved.  I think I first read an article detailing that Robert Kraft had a flotation pod installed next to his office, and Tom Brady regularly used flotation therapy to enhance physical and mental recovery.  Flotation therapy involves floating in a pod of shallow water that is filled with Epsom salt, or magnesium. 

The heavy concentration of magnesium in the water causes your body to float effortlessly.  Lights and sounds can also be removed from the pod, giving the effect of complete sensory deprivation.  I usually prefer mediation music, or a guided meditation while floating.  The effects I have seen through this practice have been numerous.  The first experience I had was down right euphoric.  Subsequent experiences leave you with a feeling of deep relaxation similar to a massage, increases in creativity, and as other benefits akin to meditation.  It has been shown that participants in flotation therapy are readily able to enter the theta state.

Flotation Therapy Contributes to Patriots Recovery Process
Float Hopes
Scientific Research on Flotation Therapy


Have you ever felt better after playing with a dog?  One effect that happens through our interaction with pets, particularly dogs, is a release of oxytocin that occurs.  In the NCBI link below, the study found: “Oxytocin levels peak significantly in both dog owners and dogs when they interact and in particular when the owner strokes and caresses her dog:

Self Soothing Behaviors with Particular Reference to Oxytocin

Go ahead, throw on your favorite Chris Rock or Dave Chappelle Netflix special.  It’s good for you.  Laughter has been shown to decrease cortisol and adrenaline, reducing stress.  It has also been shown to increase serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins.

Therapeutic Benefits of Laughter
Social Laughter

Growing up in Nashville, and as a musician at times, music has been a go-to mood enhancer for most of my life.  Music has been shown to release both dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

Music Releases Mood Enhancing Chemical in Brain
Intensely Pleasurable Responses to Music
Performance of Music

On that note…  we’ll close out this series on the Psychology of Trading with one of my favorite performances from Aretha Franklin.  Enjoy the music, and the neurotransmitters!