Health care work by its nature is inherently stressful. Health workers frequently confront illness, death, dying, trauma, challenging behaviours, suicide, violence and a whole range of other inherently stressful situations. These situations are seen as a normal part of the job of health workers and since they cannot be removed the stress experienced is described as ‘normative’ stress. However, stress should not be part of a job to the extent that it causes physical or mental health problems. Where the work environment cannot be easily changed, a range of ‘secondary level’ cognitive and behavioural interventions can be taught to help buffer employees against normative stress at work.