As traders we have many things to look after, so we rarely think about how trading can influence our health. Especially at the beginning of a career, a trader has to cope both with technical and fundamental aspects of the market, and a full scope of feelings and emotions. No wonder, when in such conditions, one would not even think about such stuff as the ergonomics of a workspace, and work and safety principles. When one works at a company, these things are being taken care of by a health and safety officer, so there are not many occasions where one can acquire a habit of thinking and taking care of the basic standards and comforts of a workspace. But we, as individual traders – as with all the other stuff – have to take care of ourselves in this respect too. We traders are subject to the same health syndromes and hazards as most office workers. We spend hours, sitting in front of the computer, often glaring at multiple screens. Sometimes we have to sit for longer hours than a typical person working in an office. So, let’s have a look at the things we should be aware of.
Office ergonomics and proper sitting
This is a thing that everyone knows about and is aware of in theory. You should sit properly. But in practice, we rarely take care about organizing our workspace properly. Grab any chair, open your laptop, and there you go. So, just as a reminder, the infographic below shows how a proper workspace should be organized. It also shows the proper way of sitting and working on a computer. In order to enlarge click on it and in will open full-size in new tab.
When you look at the picture above (you can click on it, to open a larger one in a new tab), the first thought which occurs, is that when you work on a desktop computer, everything is more or less OK (but have a second look, because it’s the details that matter), however when working on a laptop, everything is wrong and opposite to what it should be… But there is an easy fix for that – get a laptop stand and an external mouse and keyboard. The first will allow you to adjust the monitor height to be on your eye level, so that you don’t need to bend your head anymore. The latter will allow you to type and click normally after you have put your laptop on a stand. And what about sitting? I remember when I was in college, studying Business Administration, I had medicine classes for one semester. The MD who was running these classes showed us basic things like how to sit or lift things not to overload the spine. He also showed us graphs and calculations which demonstrated, that sitting in a wrong position can generate intradiscal pressure of up to 200 kg. Damaging your back is not fun, so getting a proper, ergonomic chair, or at least putting a pillow behind your back to force yourself to sit straight, is a must.
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS, microwave syndrome)
This is not something you would find in health and safety textbooks, but some people say that electromagnetic radiation from wi-fi or mobiles causes different health issues to them, so maybe it is worth mentioning. Especially that trading involves constant transfer of data, so if you are on wi-fi or cellular modem, there is a constant streaming of data to your platform. And streaming means microwave activity. EHS does not have a strict and closed list of syndromes, but it includes headache, fatigue, stress, and sleep disturbances. The syndrome is still under research, and you might find much conflicting information about it. Some researchers are more concerned and some are talking about a placebo effect. In such case, I think everyone should make their research and decision, so I just post a link to an article on the National Library of Medicine you might want to start with. There is a lot of ideological debate, so I don’t want to get deeper into this topic, but I just want to say what I’ve observed. After a typical trading day, I’m definitely more tired when I’m on wi-fi than when I’m on cable. Of course, there might be different reasons for this, but if you experience syndromes that you cannot attribute to anything else, it might be perhaps worth making an experiment and connecting your computer to a cable for a while (just remember also to turn off the wi-fi). What you will experience for sure, is a smaller package loss, so a faster internet 🙂 .
The eyes of a trader have a really hard time. Hours behind the screen/screens can be tiring for them. There are, however, three things you can do to limit the negative impact on your eyes, both in the short term (irritated eyes, eye fatigue, eyestrain, etc.) and in the long run (defects of vision).
Look from time to time through the window at something distant. This will allow your eyes to re-accommodate. Stay like this for a few minutes. I know that sometimes it can be hard, or even hurtful, and it is tempting to stop looking or to look at something closer, but you must keep looking at things that are as far as possible. It is an important exercise for your eyes. I’m not a doctor, but I discovered this strategy when I started to work on a computer and it’s worked fine for me so far – I’m still eagle-eyed, even though I spend hours on the computer every day.
Dry eyes – try to work out a habit of blinking every few minutes. This will keep moisture distributed across your eyes. If we look at the screen with full concentration, we tend to forget to blink, and as a result our eyes become dry and irritated.
Use physiological salt or basic eye drops to keep your eyes moistened – this will improve your comfort.
I hope this text is useful. Remember that giving yourself a break from time to time can make a miracle not only for you body, but for your mind as well. The perception of the market improves. I don’t want to promise or suggest anything, but a fifteen-minute break may lead to a fifteen-pip profit, which an otherwise tired person might have missed 😀
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I also wrote some other articles you might like: When not to trade – Situations which cause trading errors and mistakes
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