In recent weeks, the stock market has had large fluctuations in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Corrections in the market are common, and historically, downturns have ended in upturns. It can help to take the long view; this episode will pass, even if it’s impossible to know exactly when. However, when it is your own money there is no doubt that this jolt is painful.
How do you navigate your emotions when you’re seeing your position jump up and down so frequently? Here are 3 tips for staying the course during stock market fluctuations.
1. Understand the source of your uneasiness
The first step to ease those nerves is to ask yourself a few questions. “When you start investing in the market, it’s generally to build wealth in service of a goal. What is that goal? Are you afraid that you won’t have the money to meet a need? What is that particular need?”
You should keep in mind, ‘What’s your goal?’ and ‘What’s the timing of that goal’. If you don’t need the funds in the short term, then you may be able to afford riding out the downturn and waiting for the upswing. You could think ’Yeah, I’m seeing the total market value of my portfolio go down at the moment, but actually, I still hold the same number of shares and their value should go back up in the long run.”
Another question you could ask yourself is, “Are you worried in response to the fact that other people seem worried? If not, what are you responding to?” It could be that constant updates about the news cycle are feeding your fears in an unhelpful way. Maybe the solution could be as simple as tuning out from the headlines for a little while.
2. Stay informed, but don’t read every headline
For a lot of people, having the right information can bring on a sense of comfort. Having a better understanding of what the market is doing and why, might affect your feelings about any sudden highs or lows.
Still, there’s a difference between staying informed and following every breaking news alert.
You may benefit from waiting for the market to stabilize and not letting your news feed dictate your emotional experience or your actions. The same goes for your portfolio: Though it’s smart to monitor it, try not to check it too often.
3. Pause for 24 hours before making any big decisions
If the market’s moves have made you consider pulling out of the market altogether, you’re not alone and it is totally understandable.
One strategy to keep you from acting impulsively is to institute a waiting period for yourself when you want to make these kinds of choices. Take a pause and see if you can wait 24 hours before making any kind of long-term decision, and then evaluate if you still feel that same intensity to act 24 hours later.
Implementing a waiting period can be a way of creating a boundary, so that you’re acknowledging your emotions, but still being systematic about the actions that you’re taking.
It is hard.
It can be sensible to take some time to reflect on what is making you feel uneasy. You don’t want to create a cause and effect relationship between your emotion and the market’s volatility. Emotions are valid, but you can recognize them without putting them in control.
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