The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has managed to pare back some of its losses after falling to its lowest level in two-and-a-half years earlier this morning.

As was expected to happen, the benchmark index fell as much as 1.8% this morning to a low of just 4803 points, but has since regained some composure. It’s at 4855 points, down 0.8%, at the time of writing.

The country’s biggest retailers have done their part in supporting the market with Woolworths Limited (ASX: WOW) and Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX: WES) shares lifting 5% and 2.8% respectively, following Woolworths’ decision to exit its failed Masters joint venture.

However, their efforts weren’t enough to offset the damage being inflicted by the major miners or banks, all of which are languishing in the red today.

BHP Billiton Limited’s (ASX: BHP) shares, for instance, have fallen 3% after oil prices crashed below US$29 a barrel on Friday, while Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) has dropped 2.6%. Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) and Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) have also plunged 2% and 5.7% each.

Meanwhile, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX: ANZ) and National Australia Bank Ltd. (ASX: NAB) have fallen 1.4% and 1.1%, respectively, while Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) shares are down 1.2% as well.

Foolish takeaway

In a recent post, Motley Fool columnist Morgan Housel wrote:

No one knows what they want. When things are going well, people say they want a bear market because it would be an opportunity. When it comes, they get nostalgic for the days when everything was going well. It’s helpful to acknowledge that our emotions are driven by factors we don’t anticipate when envisioning the future.”

For investors, it has been an excruciating start to 2016 (the worst start to a year in history, in fact). It’s never easy watching your share portfolio plunge in value, nor is it possible to ascertain how long the declines will last, or how much your wealth could drop by the time it’s over.

Remember though, Fools, volatility is a normal part of long-term investing. Some periods will be more volatile than others but the important thing is to remain focused on your long-term goals, and ensure you control your emotions. By thinking of your shares as businesses you believe will grow much larger over the next three or five years (or even longer!), it becomes easier to withstand the market’s turbulence and accept that conditions will improve, over time.

What would YOU do if the market crashed tomorrow?

With the ASX plunging below 5,000, some experts are predicting a market crash. Discover our Foolish experts' advice on what YOU should do in the event of a crisis -- simply click here for your FREE copy of our newly updated report, "What to Do When the Sharemarket Crashes". Click here, it's FREE!.

HOT OFF THE PRESSES: Motley Fool’s #1 Dividend Pick for 2017!

With its shares up 155% in just the last five years, this ‘under the radar’ consumer favourite is both a hot growth stock AND our expert’s #1 dividend pick for 2017. Now we’re pulling back the curtain for you... And all you have to do to discover the name, code and a full analysis is enter your email below!

Simply enter your email now to receive your copy of our brand-new FREE report, “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2017.”

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our https://www.fool.com.au/financial-services-guide">Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.

Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.