High Levels of Volatility of Crypto Investing and Its Impact on Mental Health

High Levels of Volatility of Crypto Investing and Its Impact on Mental Health

Cryptocurrency
by Nate Klemp
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Following crypto may be exciting. It may be lucrative. But it’s bad for your mental health. This is the narrative that has emerged over the last few months as Bitcoin soared to well over $60,000 and then plummeted to just over $30,000. Addiction centers throughout the world now offer treatment programs for those struggling with compulsive crypto
Crypto Volatility Mental health
Following crypto may be exciting. It may be lucrative. But it’s bad for your mental health.
This is the narrative that has emerged over the last few months as Bitcoin soared to well over $60,000 and then plummeted to just over $30,000. Addiction centers throughout the world now offer treatment programs for those struggling with compulsive crypto day trading. Numerous articles and Reddit threads document the stories of blockchain enthusiasts struggling to cope with the psychological collateral damage brought on by this new asset. 

Just last week, a friend of mine, who was heavily invested in cryptocurrencies, told me that he reached the point where he had to sell off most of his portfolio. “I started to feel anxious all the time and couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I had no choice but to sell.”

For those struggling with serious forms of addiction, abandoning the mental chaos of crypto is a skillful strategy. But for those experiencing milder forms of crypto-induced suffering, I want to propose a radical idea. I call it “crypto mindfulness.”
Combining crypto and mindfulness may seem like a logical contradiction. On the surface, they appear to be opposites. Crypto is fast. Mindfulness is slow. Crypto is scattered. Mindfulness is focused. Crypto is all about the future. Mindfulness is all about the present. If anything, these two forces seem inherently at odds, working against, rather than with, each other.

But what if this ordinary narrative has it all wrong? What if crypto is actually the perfect training ground for mindfulness and optimal mental health? And what if mindfulness is the perfect complement to the wild ride of crypto investing? 

This idea rests on two shifts in perspective. The first involves seeing crypto not simply as an exciting innovation or lucrative investment but as a spiritual practice. The volatility, the constant change, and the uncertainty – this is all like an advanced curriculum in navigating the rest of life, where we experience these qualities in a more attenuated form every day.

The second involves redefining mindfulness as less about sealing yourself away from life to follow your breath for thirty minutes a day, more about bringing an awareness of the present moment with you, into the heart of life’s chaos. 

Redefined in these ways, you can start to see how researching the latest advances in crypto or checking your coins each morning doesn’t have to be a departure from mindfulness. In fact, it can become an essential part of the practice. The chaotic, 24/7, casino-like, nature of these new currencies can become an opportunity to learn how to work skillfully with the most intense forms of attachment, greed, distraction, and disappointment.

But how can you cultivate crypto mindfulness? Here are a few tools.


1. Notice.
In every moment, we’re either aware of what’s happening or living in a trance-like state. The high volatility emotions of crypto, feed the trance. It doesn’t matter whether the markets are going up or going down, in this trance, we stop paying attention to the present moment. 

That’s why it all starts with noticing. Noticing is awareness. When you watch the fluctuations of crypto from this place, you stay out of the trance. This subtle space of awareness makes it possible to watch the thoughts in your head or the emotions moving through your body from the place psychologists call “meta awareness,” a vantage point where you’re less identified with these afflictive states. In this state, all those charts and price updates become opportunities to get curious and investigate what happens in your mind and body when prices rise or fall.

To notice, take one or two slow calm breaths before entering the online space of crypto. Then, as you open your app or news site, stay slow and present. Watch what’s happening in your mind. Turn crypto into a micro-meditation.


2. Use change as fuel for growth.
Despite all their differences, crypto and mindfulness both embrace one essential feature of the human experience: change. In the crypto world, change is constant. New technologies and projects constantly arise and fall away. Prices go to the moon, then drop, then rise again.

In the mental world, it’s exactly the same. New thoughts constantly arise and fall away. Emotions and sensations come and go. 

The key insight in all forms of mindfulness practice is this: freedom is found through paying close attention to change. If we can see that all of life involves change and impermanence, we experience this deep truth in real time. We live with the recognition that everything that arises must also pass away.

When we’re able to experience the truth of change, we’re no longer bothered by all those thoughts, emotions, and sensations that create our suffering. They are, after all, temporary, always changing, always beginning to fall away the moment they arise. The daily fluctuations of crypto invite us to experience this same truth and use the volatility of this asset as a reminder of the larger truth of life’s impermanence. 


3. Mindfully tie yourself to the mast.
You’ve probably heard of the Greek tale of Odysseus. As he approached the Sirens, he knew that their seductive song would lead him to act against his best interests – to jump ship and die in the waters below. So he instructed his crew to tie him to the mast. 

For many of us, the draw of crypto is a lot like this siren call. Try as we might to stay mindful, to notice, or to witness the nature of change, we still get sucked into a compulsive mind state where our most base instincts run the show.

That’s why it can be helpful to practice tying yourself to the mast, a practice that’s helpful for addiction to news, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and all other forms of digital distraction. This might involve setting limits on how many times each day you can check the markets. Or perhaps it’s limiting the number of hours you spend researching new projects. Or perhaps it’s setting limits on how many new withdraws you make from your bank account to invest.
The big idea here is simply this: you don’t have to lose mindfulness to invest and explore the world of crypto and other emerging technologies. Likewise, you don’t have to sell off all your crypto to be mindful and to care for your mental health.
It’s not easy and it requires careful attention. But I believe it’s possible to use this emerging world of technology as an opportunity to go deeper into the mindfulness-based practice of waking up to the present moment.