Calming plod through a world of tension
STRESS: if you haven’t got it you may well be living in the previous century. Stress has become the ailment du jour of the noughties, triggering everything from depression to heart disease, marital breakdown, obesity and even suicide.
Everyone, it seems, has a tale of stress. Whether it be the tribulations of getting small children out the door and off to school, coping with that obstinate middle manager or travelling the globe business class to seal the next multimillion- dollar deal.
Where once stress was considered a good thing, an element of our genetic make- up that allowed the fight or flight defences to kick immediately into action, today it is on a par with life- threatening diseases, if not being implicated as a cause of them.
Step forward Niki Ellis of University of Queensland.
The professor is the Super Nanny of stress, fronting this intriguing series that plots how a range of companies and individuals define and deal with stress, with her intervention.
On paper it is a great idea, something that may allow us to shine a light on our lives and find a way of dealing with those daily stresses.
Tonight Ellis enters what is unquestionably a most stressful environment ( particularly for animal lovers), the RSPCA.
Working with minuscule finances and restricted resources, the committed staff of the RSPCA in Queensland put animals first.
Each day they must make life- anddeath decisions about animals cast away by fate or the fickleness of human nature.
Animals healthy enough to warrant
the a second chance get to try out for adoption through a series of simplistic tests. If a dog so much as shies away from a child- sized doll brought towards it, it is consigned to euthanasia lest fear turn to attack in the outside world. This is a stressful job where failed efforts to save an animal’s life can turn to quietly shed tears.
Enter Ellis, called in to help the RSPCA prevent the compassionrelated stress its staff suffer. It’s a management call, but Ellis swiftly has management offside, with the RSPCA bosses fearing she is a union lackey.
The staff, on the other hand, fear any demonstrations of weakness or displays of emotion will have them removed from roles where they have the animals’ best interests at heart even in putting them down.
At one level Ellis’s investigations are fascinating to watch, the concerns of the workforce doubtlessly mirroring the workforce- management divide so many of us encounter.
But, to its detriment, this show plods. It is worthy but somehow lacking. Perhaps the sedate pace will go some way to alleviating your stress.
Help: University of Queensland professor Niki Ellis tackles workplace stress