The foods that make you feel good

We often forget that the way to get the best out of our brain starts with our stomachs. And just as you wouldn’t put rubbish in your tank and expect the engine not to splutter, putting good fuel in our bodies is just as important.

Good for …Sleep

You don’t want to be eating food that makes you sleepy at the wheel but getting a good night’s rest is vital for top performance on the road, not to mention all-round good health.

Milk – The glass of milk before bed isn’t a childhood cliché. Milk contains Tryptophan which helps your body make Serotonin, a vital chemical in the stomach that produces melatonin, the sleep hormone. Make picking up a pint on the way home a habit for better sleep.

Good for …alertness

Coffee is good for you, it’s official. Scientists have found that a cup of coffee can give you a mental boost for around 45 minutes.

But coffee can have decreasing benefits the more you drink and it will disrupt your sleep if you drink too much or too close to bedtime.

A simple trick to stay alert is to swap coffee for…water. Simple dehydration is the most common cause of brain fog and staying hydrated (eight small glasses or 1.5 litres) throughout the day is usually enough to keep your brain sharp.

Good for …circulation and fighting disease

See red if you want good overall health. Red fruit and vegetables contain vitamins and chemicals such as lycopene that improve blood pressure, fight free radicals and improve your defences against colds and cancer.

Or go yellow. Turmeric and foods that contain it (look for really yellow or brown curries) keep inflammation at bay. Particularly helpful if you have aching joints or stiff muscles.

Good for …staying full

Beans, beans, good for the heart…amongst other things. Beans or pulses and legumes which includes lentils and soya beans are good non-meat proteins as well as being high in fibre and low GI.

Meat and eggs are also low GI, high protein foods although there’s not much fibre to go round. How about grabbing a tuna niçoise or chicken and brown rice salad from the chiller for lunch?

Good for …sitting down all day

Sitting down for long periods isn’t great for your digestion. Foods that are high in fibre keep your gut happy and help you avoid that heavy, bloated feeling. Hard fruits such as apples are high in fibre, as are prunes and figs.

Many cereals (think porridge or muesli rather than sugary flakes) also keep your digestion ticking over nicely. Some simple swaps also put more fibre in your diet such as having wholewheat spaghetti and brown rice instead of white.

 Good for …feeling treated

There’s nothing more guaranteed to make you binge on unhealthy food than trying to ban yourself from eating it.

Always set aside time for a treat but try to make it a clever one. Instead of high sugar, processed chews, try dried fruit or nuts dipped in dark chocolate.

If you’re after a fizzy drink, try mixing fresh juice with sparkling water. Diet drinks aren’t always the healthier option; there may be more sugar in the fresh OJ but there are also more of the good stuff like vitamins and fibre.

If you’ve got a savoury tooth, have a snackpack of nuts instead of crisps. Unsalted are best but swapping for nuts is the important bit.

Steer clear

There are also some things you want to avoid to make sure you get peak performance.

Heavy meals

Even with a healthy meal, a big portion will make you drowsy as your body diverts all its energy to digestion instead of keeping you alert. If you get hungry, eat little and often.

High sugar

Sweets and fizzy pop spike your blood sugar only for it to drop suddenly again and leave you starving and quite possibly light-headed. Never say never but you should aim for the sensible choices at least 80% of the time.

Chasing the caffeine buzz

A little caffeine is good for you (see alertness) but ‘a little’ is the operative word. When you’re really tired, no amount of coffee is going to give you a spark that lasts all day. Vitamin Zzz is the only supplement that really works.
Source: Shell Fluid Thinking

The A-Z of driver wellbeing

Apples: Eat more apples (other fruits are available) and fewer chocolate bars. Note, we didn’t say no chocolate bars.

Breaks: Downtime is really important. Get some fresh air, reset your concentration, take a nap, have a drink and something good to eat (see N), or contact friends and family for a chat.

Coffee: Tasty, hot and inviting on a dark morning but don’t drink too much as it’s not going to help you stay alert when you’re already tired – at best it’s a quick fix. Too much gives you the jitters, makes you anxious and stops you sleeping when you should be resting.

Discuss: If something is worrying you, talk to people who can help. Whether it’s to do with an aspect of your job, health or family – talking helps. Problems can be fixed or strategies found.

Energise: Small tweaks can make a big difference to energy levels. Regular exercise is proven to improve overall energy levels, cutting down on alcoholic drinks in the evening improves sleep. Dropping some pounds if you’re carrying a few too many will also see your energy levels rise.

Focus: Concentrating for long periods is hard. Setting yourself goals will help you concentration – try perfecting a manoeuvre or listening to certain types of music. Frequent breaks are also important (see B)

Gym: You can’t always carry dumbbells in your vehicle but doing some exercise is really important. Whether you go to an actual gym, go for a walk or use what you’ve got at home, any form of moving about contributes to better overall health.

Hydrate: Studies have shown that being dehydrated can be as bad for your concentration as drink driving. Eight glasses – or 1.5 litres – spread throughout the day will keep you alert without sending you to the loo every half hour.

Interest: Sometimes you can’t help but follow a monotonous routine or route. Finding ways to change up your day increases your interest and being interested means you’ll enjoy your work more – and concentrate better.

Join in: Driving is rarely a team sport. Look for opportunities to communicate with your fellow drivers (not while driving though!) and engage in groups outside work.

Kind: Pushing yourself too hard, being a perfectionist or not taking time out to enjoy your interests and your leisure time all build stress levels. Learn to be kind to yourself.

Learn: Being open to learning new things on the job is a great way to manage stress. The more you know, the better you can do your job, the more secure you’ll feel about your decisions.

Manage: For many drivers, their working day is set out for them. But that doesn’t mean you can’t control your own routine. Make time for rest stops, keep fuel topped up so you don’t worry about not reaching a service station, and, if your schedule becomes unmanageable, speak out.

Nutrition: Good, nutritious food is essential for health, concentration and happiness. With the huge range of foods available at most service stations, making healthy choices on the go isn’t hard. And bringing your own from home is easy too.

Organise: Start your day with all the kit you’re going to need for a successful day. Whether it’s as simple as a homemade lunch or warm clothes for time spent outside, your day will always go better if you’re not having to make do all the time.

Posture: Drivers’ seats are far more advanced than they once were but no vehicle can perfectly fit everybody. If you’re experiencing niggles, pads and boosters help keep your spine healthy during a long day behind the wheel.

Quiet: To avoid the headaches, exhaustion and stress that can be caused by constant noise, find spaces and times where you can do a sight and sound detox. A quiet, dark room or just a pair of noise-cancelling headphones while you shut your eyes on a rest break is a recipe for calm.

Rest: Breaks are important but not all breaks should be stocking up on food or making calls. Full rest is vital, particularly on long haul. The ideal nap length is about 15 minutes to wake up feeling refreshed.

Sleep: The sleep you get at home is critical to your ability to perform at work. Some don’t realise they have a sleep problem but if you’re waking up feeling groggy rather than refreshed, it’s time to look at how well you’re sleeping. Alcohol, stress, weight and temperature all affect our ability to sleep well.

Telematics: Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket drivers have their little black box. Telematics systems are designed to keep you informed, make sure you don’t miss rest stops and help keep you safe on the road.

Understanding: When someone else does something daft on the road, it’s easy for the red mist to descend. Deep breaths and relying on your own, excellent skills of observation and preparedness, helps keep blood pressure under control.

Vision: Have regular eye tests and make sure to wear glasses or contact lenses when they’re needed. When not driving, avoid eye strain by staying off screens late at night.

Walking: An incredible and yet very easy way to dramatically improve your health and wellbeing. If the gym is too daunting or inconvenient, or you’re prevented from doing vigorous exercise, regularly fitting walking into your day improves sleep, mental health and waistline!

X marks the spot: Plan your route before you set out and you’ll arrive calm – and you won’t be distracted by maps and signs while you’re driving. Identify any traffic blackspots and have contingencies ready.

Yawning: If drowsiness hits, even if you think it was only a little while since your last rest, pull over safely and have a nap. Caffeinated drinks or winding the window down are only very temporary fixes that should be avoided.

Zinc: A very important mineral that is needed for the proper growth and maintenance of the body, playing a key role in the immune system, wound healing, blood clotting and thyroid functions, among other things. Find it in beef, lamb, spinach, pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, pork, chicken, beans, and mushrooms.
Source: Shell Fluid Thinking

Fleets fuelled for the future

Dramatic changes to the world of transportation pose major challenges but also major opportunities. Making the right decisions to future-proof business mobility is tough, as a range of new, improving and traditional sources vie to become the fuel of tomorrow.

At the 2016 Shell Make the Future event held earlier this year in London, the company’s chief scientist for mobility Dr Wolfgang Warnecke described how access to affordable energy is a significant task for mobility. Total cost of ownership, ecological challenges, CO2 emissions, air pollution and noise emissions are all shaping the way future vehicle propulsion will be influenced.

“We’ve lived with these two fuel types [petrol and diesel] for 100 years and now what we have is a huge issue or opportunity for different engine types, and on the fuel side we have more than gasoline or diesel,” he states.

Natural gas, including CNG and liquid natural gas, biofuels, reusable hydrogen and electricity are all developing, as well as the possibility of synthetic fuels to follow, making for a period of change and advancement not before seen in the transport world.

Shell’s connected programme head Eliron Ekstein declares it an “exciting time in the mobility space”. He believes that developments in data and connectivity will combine with electrification and growing numbers of cleaner fuel sources to actually increase professional use of the roads. That’s going to place increased importance on the role of the fleet manager, who will need to optimise these transport systems.

Make the Future Shell

But that doesn’t mean traditional fuels have had their day. “The name of the game for diesel is to stay as good as it is with efficiency in miles per gallon,” declares Dr Warnecke. “The world of transportation is going to change dramatically”.

Methods of propulsion haven’t been on fleet managers’ radar because, as Dr Warnecke says, it’s been either petrol or diesel for most of the last 100 years. However, operators now have an unprecedented range of options available, and fresh new technology to help manage them, depending on how and where their vehicles are being used. And, as this film explores, that’s something that is going to evolve at a tremendous pace, so knowledge and understanding will be key to staying ahead of the competition.

 

Source: Fluid Thinking – Shell

Would you be able to spot these 10 signs of stress?

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) over 480,000 people in the UK in 2015/16 claimed work-related stress was making them ill. This amounts to nearly 40% of all work-related illness.

Stress doesn’t just affect individuals, the fallout can impact on teams and businesses. The short-term effects can be disruptive and unpleasant, while long-term stress can be very harmful and can lead to health problems and serious illnesses.

Stress has a far-reaching impact on emotions, mood and behaviour. Learning to understand the signs of stress in employees is a hugely valuable and important skill for fleet managers to help take control of the problem.

These 10 signs can give you an insight into employee stress, but they are indicators only – be careful about cherry picking signs. It’s important not to jump to conclusions and remember these behaviours can also be indicative of other conditions. Take a look at the overall picture and look for signs of a significant departure from usual behaviour.

Most importantly, as a fleet manager, you should always talk to your employees before making assumptions. If, after you have spoken to your driver, you have identified a problem, you should seek advice and guidance from your HR representative. Communication is key to tackling stress and the consequences of it, from both a driver and a fleet manager perspective.

  1. An increase in sickness days off and/or turning up late to work

If an employee is struggling, they will sometimes show it by regularly phoning in sick or turning up late every morning. The reason may be emotional or physical – they may be retreating due to a lack of motivation and low energy levels, but as stress causes illness (see below) they may also be displaying physical symptoms.

  1. Presenteeism

On the other end of the spectrum is those who stay late often or are at their desks at the crack of dawn every day. Their long hours may look diligent but could be a sign they are struggling to cope with their workload. That feeling of drowning is common among people experiencing stress.

  1. Frequent illness

Such is the common-place nature of most stress-related illnesses that if people aren’t in tune with how they are feeling, the signs can be hard to nail down. But people feeling stressed may display physical symptoms, some of which are easier than others for other people to spot, including, headaches, skin conditions such as eczema, aches, pains, and tense muscles, chest pain and rapid heartbeat and frequent colds and infections.

This can go hand-in-hand with point 1, but employees suffering from these conditions may not take days off sick and may even veer towards presenteeism (point 2).

  1. Change in mood

Increased emotional reactions are common in stressed people. They can become more tearful or sensitive or aggressive, for example. Is a previously happy employee suddenly snappy or withdrawn? Or another irritable and negative? Don’t assume every change in mood is a stress red flag – we all have our bad days – but look out for someone’s personality significantly altering for a period of time.

  1. Change in appearance

This is very personal and should not be used as a standalone to diagnose stress, but stress can take its toll on a person’s appearance.  Again, there no prescriptive roll of symptoms, some become careless about how they look, others become very particular. Some people gain weight, others will lose it.

  1. High turnover

A sign that your whole workplace environment isn’t managing stress well is if staff are leaving after only a short period of time or more people are handing in their notice than previously.

  1. Accident prone

The stress response will make you feel hyper-vigilant which can give people a false sense of control, while in reality, the adrenaline coursing through your body is distracting you from thinking straight. Be aware that you are most likely to send that email to people you will later regret, bump into a glass sliding door, or commit an act of road rage while in this heightened state.

  1. Lack of concentration

If you often get the impression the employee you’re talking to isn’t listening, it may not be that you’re boring them, but that they are stressed. The boost in adrenaline the body experiences under stress can be a positive concentration aid in small doses, but under continued stress, it starts to heighten the senses to the point the brain notices every little thing around which means you become easily distracted.

  1. Lack of energy and tiredness

Stress can be draining. If an employee is complaining of tiredness, seems lethargic and unmotivated they may be feeling the strain.

  1. Rushing to get things done

Frenzied activity may make someone look busy, but it’s often unproductive and can fuel stress. According to The Wall Street Journal, “rushers,” people who are incessantly jumping from task to task, adversely affect their entire office and aren’t getting anything more done than their more chilled out colleagues.

Stress affects people differently and to varying degrees. As a fleet manager you can’t always predict or prevent stress – particularly if the source of an employee’s stress is coming from outside of the workplace. But by being aware of the signs of stress you can help manage it with a few simple steps to prevent it becoming endemic within your company. Communication is key in both preventing, managing and tackling stress, so make it clear to your drivers they can talk to you about pressures and concerns – sometimes the simple act of sharing a problem can be enough to offer relief.
Source: Shell Fluid Thinking

Driver fatigue: five reasons why you need to take it seriously

Driver fatigue is estimated to be a contributory factor in around 20% of all road accidents. Furthermore, around 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles, reaffirming the need for fleet managers to ensure drivers do not become overtired.

Your fleet is the oil that keeps the cogs of your business turning and so it is imperative that you make every effort to ensure it functions efficiently and safely at all times.

Here are five reasons why tackling driver fatigue should be at the top of your agenda:

Accidents

This is the standout reason driver fatigue is a significant issue. Not only has it been linked to a large proportion of road accidents, but a raft of other statistics means the onus is on fleet managers to make sure tiredness is tackled head-on.

For example, according to the Department for Transport’s Think! campaign, sleep-related accidents are more likely to result in a fatality. Men under the age of 30 are the most at-risk group when it comes to falling asleep behind the wheel.

Another hugely significant issue to consider is that of increased insurance premiums as a result of accidents. Indeed, research suggests premiums increased by 16% during the 12 months up to July 2017.

Meanwhile, missed deliveries, unproductive downtime due to driver injury, the costs associated with replacing staff and vehicle repairs – however minor – are also factors to consider.

Mental health

Feeling extremely tired alters a person’s psychological state, increases the risk of mood swings and could also result in a lack of motivation.

On a more worrying note, the mental health charity Mind suggests a lack of sleep can lead to depression, anxiety and, in extreme cases, psychotic episodes.

Physical health

Everyone tends to get grumpy and lethargic when they haven’t had enough sleep but there are a host of more serious physical health concerns that have been linked to fatigue.

The NHS Choices website lists obesity, heart disease and diabetes as being linked to regular lack of sleep, all of which contribute to a reduced life expectancy.

Additionally, with research showing we’re more likely to opt for sugary foods when we’re tired, those who regularly suffer fatigue are also at risk of more everyday complaints such as the common cold as a poor diet lowers the body’s resistance to illness.

Legal obligations

Corporate manslaughter is one of the most serious criminal offences a company can commit and there is also a risk of individual prosecution of managers following accidents. It is therefore vitally important that you follow health and safety legislation to the letter.

Broadly, the legislation covers issues such as driver breaks, daily and weekly rest and maximum permitted hours over days, weeks and fortnights. Fleet managers are advised to familiarise themselves with every aspect of the law relating to driver fatigue.

Business reasons

In short, everything that has been covered in this article so far illustrates why allowing driver fatigue to become a problem in your fleet will impact negatively on the business as a whole.

Drivers who struggle with chronic mental and physical health issues will inevitably be less productive, less likely to embrace company values and more likely to be involved in an accident.

This, in turn, will lead to increased pressure on more senior staff to manage those individuals, subsequently putting them at equal risk of developing stress-related conditions.

From a reputation point of view, having the name of your business associated with negative stories relating to health and safety breaches and, in the worst cases, serious or fatal accidents, can have a devastating effect on the perception of the brand – both in the eyes of industry and the general public.

And so the message is clear: taking driver fatigue seriously is imperative when it comes to ensuring businesses run smoothly and individuals within them have the opportunity to thrive.

 

 
Source: Shell Fluid Thinking