Mental Health in the Workplace: The Importance of Regular Breaks


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It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 and mental health in the workplace is a crucial aspect of overall employee well-being. 

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2022/23 in the UK:

  • 875,000 people were suffering from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, equating to around half of all reported workplace issues
  • 338,000 people had suffered a new case of work-related stress, depression or anxiety
  • Over 17 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

Taking regular breaks throughout your day to exercise or get outside for a walk can significantly lower stress, boost mood and nurture well-being.

In today’s fast-paced, IT-dependent work environment, the mental load can be significant. We explore the importance of maintaining mental health at work and the positive impacts of taking regular breaks, with or without exercise.

The Importance of Mental Health at Work

Maintaining mental health in the workplace is vital for personal well-being, productivity, and the mutual success of the individual and the business they work for. Employees who are mentally healthy are more engaged and productive and less likely to incur high healthcare costs or take sick leave. In businesses where workers often face long hours in front of computer screens dealing with sometimes complex problems, the mental strain can be particularly challenging.

Why Regular Breaks are Essential

Regular breaks during work hours are a proven method to help reduce stress, increase productivity, and boost mental well-being.

Here’s why they are beneficial:

  • Cognitive Refreshment: Stepping away from work tasks allows the mind to rest and reset, which can improve focus and performance when you return.
  • Stress Reduction: Breaks help reduce emotional and physical stress. Activities like stretching or walking can lower stress levels and prevent burnout.
  • Increased Creativity: Taking breaks can enhance creativity, as it allows the mind to wander and explore new ideas in a relaxed state.
  • Physical Movement: Incorporating movement into your breaks can significantly benefit mental health by releasing endorphins and improving overall mood. A BBC Newsround
    report highlights the connection between physical activity and mental well-being, noting how even small amounts of exercise can contribute to managing stress and anxiety effectively.

The Role of IT

The IT industry can play a pivotal role in promoting mental health at the workplace by:

  • Developing Tools and Apps: Many IT companies are creating apps and tools that help monitor mental health and promote mindfulness and stress management.
  • Encouraging Remote and Flexible Work: IT enables remote working, which can help employees maintain a better work-life balance.
  • Training and Resources: Offering training sessions on mental health awareness and access to digital resources can help employees manage their mental health proactively.

Actionable Tips

Here are some practical tips for integrating regular breaks and mental health practices into the workdays:

  • Set Timers for Breaks: Use apps to remind you to take breaks. The Mind ToolKit app provides resources for managing stress and anxiety.
  • Establish ‘No Meeting’ Times: Book diary time without interruptions so you have time to focus deeply or take needed breaks.
  • Promote Mental Health Training: Participate in online courses and workshops. The Mental Health Foundation offers great resources and guides for workplace mental health.
  • Get active at Breaktimes: Incorporate movement into your breaks, a walk around your office block with or without a colleague, star jumps in the corridor or a few yoga stretches in the  boardroom.


The integration of regular breaks and mental health awareness in the workplace is essential for creating a sustainable and productive work environment. Leveraging IT for mental health initiatives can lead to innovative solutions that enhance employee well-being. By valuing mental health you create an enviroment that you and your teams not only perform their best but are also happier and healthier.


For more detailed information and further reading, visiting sites such as Mind
and Samaritans
can provide additional insights and support materials tailored to improving mental health in the workplace.

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