Take control of workplace stress


Bob Martel is a board-certified hypnotist and stress management consultant at Positive Results Hypnosis in Holden. You can reach him via email at

We live in stressful times, in all areas of life. It's unavoidable, yet much of it is manageable when we decide to take action and begin to control what is controllable. Stress is a normal human response, designed to protect us. In the workplace, it can even be beneficial in small doses by helping to stay focused and alert. Prolonged or undo stress, which varies by profession, if left unaddressed can have a debilitating effect on health, morale and business itself. Workplace stress, specifically, is a prime risk factor for anxiety and depression issues. Persistent or excessive stress can lead to irrational anxiety interfering with normal living and negatively impacting job performance.

You cannot have loyal customers until you first have happy, loyal employees. This implies a necessary focus on employee well-being, especially stress. Stressful situations can negatively impact relationships at work or in life and is often a contributing factor to risks of injury, job burnout, team turmoil, chronic pain, health insurance costs and lost productivity. It impacts every employee as well as the bottom line. Employers must take a greater role in understanding and reducing job stressors wherever possible.

Every employee and leader can apply a few, easy-to-follow strategies to help manage and reduce their own stress. Beyond an individual choosing to take back control emotionally, the ability to have some control over one's own workload contributes to the impact work has on life as a whole. The goal is to learn to train the mind to remain calm, relaxed and in control, and to be as cool as a cucumber on command, using an anchor to switch your emotional state.

While keen employers are adopting stress management in their company's well-being programs, employees concerned about their stress must adopt a holistic self-care approach to lowering their stress. I advise people at corporate seminars to beware of early warning signs, which can be physical, emotional and behavioral. These signs include avoiding social situations or people, excessive drinking, feeling tired and fatigued, easily angered, unusually emotional, or difficulty with concentration on job tasks. High-blood pressure, heart disease, and migraine headaches are symptomatic of stress-related issues. Presenteeism, or absence on the job, is yet another sign.

Learn to breathe deeply with a nice diaphragmatic breath. Learn how to use self-hypnosis to feed your mind positive suggestions daily and to understand your specific stressors. Take charge of your thoughts: when you change the mind, you change the brain (literally), and you change behavior. Be certain to use positive self-talk. Sit with yourself, with the intention of being able to more clearly see what is stressing you and what you can, indeed, control with better thinking.