First, people need to accept that difficult situations will be presented to them. That is life. That is part of the life cycle. If you do your best to create an environment so that you will not face any difficult situation, then when the time comes for a difficult problem, a person will be less capable of managing themselves as they would like. See every difficult situation as an opportunity to become stronger as a person.

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 Michael Dow, RN, MS, MHA, MSM.

Michael Stephen Dow always had a love for science and the human body so for a third career, he used his GI bill to go through nursing school and graduated in August 2020. Michael has 5 college degrees and now works as a Registered Nurse at an inpatient psychiatric hospital. Books he has authored have garnered many awards including best Children’s Education Series from Independent Press Award (Nurse Florence® children’s health book series). His company has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for a ground-breaking children’s book series on mental health titled Nurse Dorothea.

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!

My mom is from the French Speaking area of Canada (Quebec) and my dad is from Alabama. They met by happenstance. My dad was working a lot, so I learned French as my first language from spending so much time with my mom. I unfortunately was not very well-prepared for kindergarten for English, so my mom and I watched a lot of Sesame Street, Captain Kangaroo and Mr. Rogers to get my English up to speed. This was the first of many times in my life I was brought out of my comfort zone and had to grow. I was, at best, a mediocre student in High School and then dropped out of college because I felt I was wasting my parents’ money. I later went back and developed a laser focused attention on my studies and excelled. I like to joke that my punishment from the universe for dropping out of college and stressing my parents out was to get 5 college degrees. I was getting my second bachelor’s and planning for medical school and then the events of Sep 11, 2001 happened. I chose to change my career direction and put in an application to the US Air Force. Again, I was moved out of my comfort zone as evidenced by old friends saying that I was one of the most pacifist they knew. I served 8 years in the military. I then, luckily, landed into my second career as an Army Wounded Warrior Advocate. I served 8 years in that position helping combat PTSD Veterans access all of their benefits and resources. I then used my GI bill, which was about to expire, to go through an accelerated nursing school program at the University of Arizona (15 months Master’s level program to be able to take the NCLEX). I graduated, passed the exam and then started working immediately as an inpatient psychiatric nurse and am loving it (the job does have challenges like every job has challenges, though).

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

Learn about mentorship and find a great mentor or multiple mentors. Learn leadership skills early. Practice the good of religion like forgiveness, avoiding things that would cause regret, love God, and start self-study as a kid since it seems endless regarding the amount of things to learn and know about.

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?

My mom. She has grit and never gave up. She moved to a foreign country to start her new life with my dad and persevered. She went back to school later in life and became a lawyer. She passed the bar on her first try even though English is a second language for her. She is kind deep down and shared her kind nature with me. She is an amazing woman and has helped me in the bad times and cheered me on in the good times.

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

Our company has just launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of the next book series focused on mental health for kids which is titled Nurse Dorothea. This is in homage to the legendary Dorothea Dix who advocated for humane treatment for the mentally ill in the 1800s ( We continue to produce a new Nurse Florence every 10 days. Nurse Florence is our series for kids addressing general science questions children may have about the body as well as disease topics. The idea is that if a member in the family gets a certain disease, they will buy that specific Nurse Florence book and read it as a family so that everyone’s health literacy will be raised ( The books are being translated into multiple languages and special editions are being created like Nurse Florence® for the Visually Impaired. We hope to improve the world’s health literacy levels so that more people can have confident discussion with their healthcare Provider. The series may also increase people’s wonder about the amazing workings of the human body.

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

I’m a person who loves research so let’s do that right now. Stress as defined by Merriam-Webster is “a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation” and “one of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.” Healthline defines it as “the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure.” The World Health Organization defines it as “a state of worry or mental tension caused by a difficult situation.”

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?

The state of Continuous Technological Improvement that civilization is in has brought chronic stress. One advancement in technology that solves one problem in turn creates new problems. The world’s Advertising System to show that people need more things to live a more complete life causes most people to seek new things to fulfill newly identified needs.

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

The World Health Organization states that signs of stress are anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, upset stomach, trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, or increased appetite. Some people may have pre-existing health problems worsen and some may start to abuse substances like alcohol (

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

If we see stress as mental tension caused by dealing with something difficult, then stress is not necessarily a bad or good thing. Dealing with difficult situations causes people to grow and use new or old skills to rise to the occasion and resolve problems. If we look at stress as an opportunity to grow and mature as a human into our potential, then stress can be a good thing. When we don’t know of knowledge, skills or have the abilities to deal with the stress in our life, we naturally see the stress factor as bad since it seems unresolvable. Having grit and choosing to persevere until the problem is resolved is a way out of and source of mental toughness. It is a skill and needs to be practiced regularly so that when a great obstacle is presented, it can be approached with courage.

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?

Heathline states that increased levels of stress can result in chronic pain. High levels of cortisol have also been found which can cause weight gain and in turn create more stress. Also, more frequent periods of illness are linked with high stress levels as well as digestive issues (

Is it even possible to eliminate stress?

To eliminate stress would mean the elimination of all difficult situations. That will not happen. What is possible is to learn healthy coping skills to deal with stress.

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.

Stress can trigger mental health issues so talking about stress is a good thing so that people might address their issues in a healthy way.

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?

In my job as an inpatient psychiatric nurse, there seems to always be an underlying feeling of stress. We regularly deal with people that have not learned healthy coping skills and have turned to substance abuse. We also regularly deal with patients that are angry. We deal with some people that do not have good interpersonal skills. Some patients have just hit a rough patch in their life, and they are the “easy” patients. Others continue to have problems with dealing with stress and we see a group of people regularly visit our hospital as an inpatient. Myself and the other nurses I work with are compassionate and want to see our patients deal more effectively with their stress, but it can be very difficult to maintain personal calm in the midst of their storm.

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?”

I have nine things I’d like to share.

First, people need to accept that difficult situations will be presented to them. That is life. That is part of the life cycle. If you do your best to create an environment so that you will not face any difficult situation, then when the time comes for a difficult problem, a person will be less capable of managing themselves as they would like. See every difficult situation as an opportunity to become stronger as a person.

Second, become goal oriented. Accomplishing little goals throughout the day provides confidence, peace, and strength to deal with problems later on. As Admiral McRaven said, start each day with making your bed and go from there (

Third, layout your tasks for the day in your mind or on paper. Celebrate every success and goal completed. Filling your day with accomplished tasks is a great way to stay positive and peaceful.

Fourth, develop teamwork skills. We humans are social beings and thrive best when we interact and cooperate with each other. Let your co-worker help you out when you need it and help them out when they need it.

Fifth, practice self-care everyday. See my other Authority Magazine article I wrote on that topic (

Sixth, learn transformational leadership. It can be exercised at any level, not just at the top of the organization. Transformational leadership can help provide synergy to a system to help people operate at an optimum level. For more info, see

Seventh, since a lot of people seem to report that work stress mainly comes from supervisors, then develop an attitude that you will earn to do what your supervisor wants if it is legal, moral and ethical. It’s ok to learn to become a follower.

Eighth, learn to be mindful. A great resource for learning mindfulness is with Jon Kabat-Zinn who was interviewed by NPR at:

Ninth, practice Three Good Things. It is basically reflecting on your day at its end and discovering three good things that happened. For more info, please see:

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

In the book of James in the Christian Bible, it says be doers of the word. Let us act in our world to make it better than how we found it. I believe we can leave many solutions to our descendants, not just more problems.

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. 🙂

I hope that the Nurse Florence® series will inspire a movement of global health promotion and literacy. It has already started with many book awards, many great reviews, translation into multiple languages, and many parents happy with the engaging and insightful text.

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

Please consider contributing to the Kickstarter campaign for Nurse Dorothea at and find us at

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


  • 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.