It’s really about defining what going well means. For some people, going well at work means they are being productive, goals are being met, and supervisors are satisfied. For others, going well means all of these, plus job satisfaction and feelings of appreciation, good morale, positive employee relationships, and a general sense of satisfaction and happiness.

With all that’s going on in our country, in our economy, in the world, and on social media, it feels like so many of us are under a great deal of stress. We know that chronic stress can be as unhealthy as smoking a quarter of a pack a day. For many of us, our work, our livelihood, is a particular cause of stress. Of course, a bit of stress is just fine, but what are stress management strategies that leaders use to become “Stress-Proof” at work? What are some great tweaks, hacks, and tips that help to reduce or even eliminate stress from work? As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Faust Ruggiero, M.S.

Author Faust Ruggiero is a therapist with a professional career that spans over forty years. He has counseled in inpatient facilities, prisons, substance abuse counseling centers, and nursing homes, and has provided employee assistance programs to major corporations. He continues to provide counseling services for veterans, first responders, law enforcement, and other emergency personnel.

Mr. Ruggiero has been in private practice at the Community Psychological Center in Bangor, Pennsylvania, for over thirty years, specializing in individual, family, substance abuse, women’s issues, and marriage/couples counseling. During that time, he developed the Process Way of Life and has used it with more than 2,000 clients, helping them realize and unleash the power they have inside themselves. He has been featured on television and radio and in newspaper columns. Mr. Ruggiero continues to counsel and conduct workshops and trainings on the Process Way of Life.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to know how you got from “there to here.” Inspire us with your backstory!

I am one of those people blessed with the understanding of who I am, and why I am here. I knew at a very early age that my position in life would be guided by my service to others. By the time I was a junior in high school, I knew that Psychology would be my course of study, and that helping others who are suffering, and so often, lost in their lives, would be my own personal destiny. For some of us, we need to search for the meaning in our own lives. For me, instead of searching for something, I simply followed the path which seemed to be laid out before me. I was born to be in service of people, I answered the call, and as a result, I am living a rich and fulfilling life. I have never looked back.

My professional career spans over forty years. I have counseled clients ranging in age from five, and into senior living. I have counseled people and families in inpatient facilities, prisons, substance abuse counseling centers, in nursing homes, provided employee assistance programs to major corporations, and have extensive experience providing emotional support services to deaf children. I am the director of the fix Yourself Empowerment Series, and the author of The Fix Yourself Handbook, and The Fix Your Anxiety Handbook.

What lessons would you share with yourself if you had the opportunity to meet your younger self?

All too often, people look back at their lives, and focus on events and decisions that they would love to be able to do over. For me, life is all about processes and the energy we direct toward those life fulfilling processes. If I had the opportunity to meet my younger self I would have this to say: begin to formulate a plan that will help you direct your energies into a positive and world enhancing way of living. Let your intellect rule your emotions, and base your decisions on factual information that can help you to achieve your goals, and to be a happy person. I would also talk to myself about balance in life. I think it’s important that we understand that we are all physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual beings. I would tell myself to be mindful of that, and to work to keep as much balance in my life as possible. I would also say how say how important it is to unconditionally love others. This is where we all find ourselves.

None of us are able to experience success without support along the way. Is there a particular person for whom you are grateful because of the support they gave you to grow you from “there to here?” Can you share that story and why you are grateful for them?

As opposed to one single individual who may have had a profound impact on my life, I do think I was wise enough to understand that there could be many, and that I could learn from all of them. I think it’s important to keep one’s mind open to the positive energy anyone can offer. We can learn from many people, and we can be inspired by them. So, as opposed to trying to find someone who may provide support for me, I look to establish connections with people. It’s really learning how to form connections in our lives that facilitates learning, and the loving positive bonds that touch us deeply enough to create the inspiration we need to be happy and productive people. I have no preconceived notions about anyone. I feel that allowing others to be themselves offers them, and I, the blessings that come from the honest and deep connections we can establish as a result.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think it might help people?

I am, and thank you for asking. After the success of The Fix Yourself Handbook, I decided to turn the Process Way of Life, which is at the core of the program, into a series of books. The new book is entitled The Fix Your Anxiety Handbook, and there will be at least five more installments to follow. Each one of them will be addressing a specific human condition, and providing both the information to understand it, and the exact steps necessary to move beyond it. The Fix Your Anxiety Handbook should be published within the next few months. Information about the program can be found on my website, The Fix Yourself Power Zone.

Ok, thank you for sharing your inspired life. Let’s now talk about stress. How would you define stress?

The most important point to understand about stress is that it is primarily a physical condition. All too often, we try to attack stress by thinking about where it came from, and how we are going to use our minds to stop it. The most important point is to learn how to address anxiety physically first. Once our bodies become healthy, we can proceed to the intellectual, physical, and spiritual components of our lives, and begin to utilize our internal power using them. Nothing about stress is addressed efficiently without addressing it on a physical level first.

In the Western world, humans typically have their shelter, food, and survival needs met. So what has led to this chronic stress? Why are so many of us always stressed out?

In the Western world, though we have all or most of our fundamental needs met, we also live life at a pace which is far too fast for our minds to assimilate, and our bodies to adjust to. Also, we have so many choices at our disposal, that it causes us to be conflicted and confused about what decisions to make. We find pressure from far too many external sources and from people, who themselves, are under pressure, and we are all doing our best to try to fit into a system that is undefined, and without positive direction. We are relying on medications, physical accelerants, and the use of other drugs in an attempt to offset the stress we are feeling, but unfortunately, these only add to the problem. Often, in cultures which have all those fundamental needs met, there is a tendency to lose focus, and to supplant what is important in our life with what feels good. Quick fixes have replaced sustain life plans, and we are constantly trying to fill gaps that our own lifestyle has created.

What are some of the physical manifestations of being under a lot of stress? How does the human body react to stress?

There are many, and if we can become more efficient about understanding how our bodies are reacting to our lifestyle, we would not only reduce stress, but we would also introduce much less of it into our lives. Some of the identifiers of a life under stress are physical pain such as headaches and joint pain, intestinal problems, sleep difficulties, overreactions, intellectual processing difficulties, memory problems, mood shifts, fatigue, chest pains, gastrointestinal changes, perspiration issues, breathing difficulties, and panic attacks. In addition, many of us already suffer from physical ailments, and these are, very often, exacerbated when the human body is under stress.

It’s important to think about stress as a natural accelerant, which causes all physical processes to move faster. The body reacts by intensifying and tightening. Stress also causes internal inflammation. Physical intensification, acceleration, and this tightening process create a tremendous amount of stress on the body. This is why I say we need to address physical conditions first, and learn how to reduce the pace of our lives, and the intensity that accompanies it.

Is stress necessarily a bad thing? Can stress ever be good for us?

Stress, in small doses, can act as a motivator which motivate us to take action, when necessary. When we think about something we have to do, somewhere we need to go, or some action that must be addressed in a reasonable time frame, the human body will use a small amount of physical acceleration to become motivated. This is simply the body’s way of saying ”get going”. In small doses, this works to our advantage. It keeps us from becoming complacent, and can have a positive effect on our cognitions, and our focus. Keep in mind, however, that we’re talking about stress in small doses, and for a limited amount of time, say a few moments to an hour or so. Beyond that, stress begins to usurp the body’s energy to the point that the negative effects will become evident.

Is there a difference between being in a short term stressful situation versus an ongoing stress? Are there long-term ramifications to living in a constant state of stress?

As I just mentioned, in small doses, and for short periods of time, stress can be a positive factor in our lives. However, the human body was never meant for stress over a long period of time. You may have heard of the fight or flight response that the body uses. Short periods of stress can mimic this response, and typically, that is not problematic. However, our demanding style of life has a tendency to stretch those intense periods into segments of time that are far too long for the body to efficiently address. Typically, short periods of stress serve a particular function, but then the body returns to its normal pace, and intensity level. This is the human body operating efficiently, and as it was designed to keep us healthy, and in balance. Longer periods of stress will use far more energy, and the ability to recover from the stress takes much longer. Over a period of time, as the body remains under siege from the stress it is receiving, and there is very little time to recover. This recovery time is essential to help maintain the balance that keeps us healthy. When this happens, we open ourselves to long term effects physically, intellectually, emotionally, and even spiritually. So, the rule is small amounts of stress, over a short period of time, with sufficient time to recover.

Is it even possible to eliminate stress?

Stress is not always a bad thing. It can prepare us for challenging situations, and it signals that we may either be in danger, or that some particular situation could be challenging to us. So, eliminating it altogether is probably not going to happen. It’s really all about learning to manage stress so that it does not incapacitate us, or at the very least, affect our health, and intellectual and emotional well-being. The advice here is to identify and reduce our association with people, places, and events that cause and increase in anxiety, and our body’s’ reaction to it.

In your opinion, is this something that we should be raising more awareness about, or is it a relatively small issue? Please explain what you mean.

This is absolutely a subject that we should be educating others about, with the goal of helping people understand what is happening to them physically, intellectually, and emotionally, and helping them to understand what to do to both avoid increasing our stress levels, and addressing stress when it begins to affect our lives. In any important subject, it’s important to dispel myths, to provide factual information about the subject matter, and also to provide the necessary steps to help address what is happening. At least 70% of the people in the nation suffer from stress related disorders, so it is very important that we begin to help them deal with this problem.

Let’s talk about stress at work. Numerous studies show that job stress is the major source of stress for American adults and that it has escalated progressively over the past few decades. For you personally, if you are feeling that overall, work is going well, do you feel calm and peaceful, or is there always an underlying feeling of stress? Can you explain what you mean?

It’s really about defining what going well means. For some people, going well at work means they are being productive, goals are being met, and supervisors are satisfied. For others, going well means all of these, plus job satisfaction and feelings of appreciation, good morale, positive employee relationships, and a general sense of satisfaction and happiness.

All too often, people don’t realize that they are experiencing anxiety as a result of stress on the job because their production is good, and they get some pats on the back for a job well done. Anxiety actually has more to do with how you feel about what you’re doing, how much energy you are expending to make it all happen, and how much toxic or dysfunctional energy is coming your way in the process.

The common peaceful qualities you’re looking for in a work setting are related to being productive and efficient, and satisfying goals and quotas, but also in an environment where once health is not compromised, and negative energy is not being felt to the point that it causes physical, intellectual, and emotional health issues.

Okay, fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview: Can you share with our readers your “5 stress management strategies that busy leaders can use to become “Stress-Proof” at Work?” Please share a story or example for each.

Stress management strategies in the workplace always begin at the top. so, my top five stress management strategies are:

  1. Ownership and upper management must buy into the notion that employee wellness needs to be a priority in the workplace. Trainings for employees along with services to address employee concerns should be part of the workplace environment.
  2. With all the changes in the workplace, it is imperative that businesses have Human Resources departments, and that those individuals receive the necessary training to address employee concerns.
  3. In work environments where supervisors are part of the production process, they should receive routine training regarding how understand what employees are having problems, and where to send employees who are having problems.
  4. Employee assistance programs can be an essential part of a healthy workplace environment. Human Services departments cannot handle the entire load, and supervisors are not equipped to address employee problems. It makes good sense to have employee counseling services available for employees in need.
  5. The last point is to always be proactive in the workplace environment. Problems are going to arise, and in settings where the proper personnel and programming are not in place, problems that will continue to grow. However, proactive employee programs provide the personnel and the programming necessary to address employee problems before they evolve to the point of crisis.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that have inspired you to live with more joy in life?

I think positive talk radio with Kevin McDonald is a good one. Lisa Garr (The Lisa Garr Show) has been helping people to be more positive in their lives for over 20 years. Brenda Michaels and Rob Spears at conscious talk radio it’s also a good one.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That’s an easy one for me. I have been working with a program I call “One Person At A Time” for over 20 years. I’d love to develop this into a larger format, and help people understand that too get to know people is all about taking people one person at a time, learning about them, and being able to appreciate them for the unique people they are.

What is the best way for our readers to continue to follow your work online?

They can find everything about me and The Fix Yourself Power Zone at:

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.

Thank you. As always, it’s been a pleasure talking with you.


  • Savio P. Clemente

    TEDx Speaker, Media Journalist, Board Certified Wellness Coach, Best-Selling Author & Cancer Survivor

    Savio P. Clemente, TEDx speaker and Stage 3 cancer survivor, infuses transformative insights into every article. His journey battling cancer fuels a mission to empower survivors and industry leaders towards living a truly healthy, wealthy, and wise lifestyle. As a Board-Certified Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), Savio guides readers to embrace self-discovery and rewrite narratives by loving their inner stranger, as outlined in his acclaimed TEDx talk: "7 Minutes to Wellness: How to Love Your Inner Stranger." Through his best-selling book and impactful work as a media journalist — covering inspirational stories of resilience and exploring wellness trends — Savio has collaborated with notable celebrities and TV personalities, bringing his insights to diverse audiences and touching countless lives. His philosophy, "to know thyself is to heal thyself," resonates in every piece.