Stoptober is a great time to stop smoking – and a great time to stop what you’re doing and take a break too.

At Suffolk Mind we’re encouraging everyone in Suffolk to take a few minutes out every day in October, and we’re asking employers to encourage their workers to make the best use of their break times to get away from their desks or equipment.

Our busy lifestyles, juggling work and home life, don’t always give us a chance to slow down, stop what we’re doing, step back and spend a few moments reflecting on what we can do differently. 

Ezra Hewing, head of mental health education at Suffolk Mind, said: “All of us have a need for privacy, to have downtime to reflect on our lives and how we might do things differently. When we lead hectic, fast paced, demanding lives it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves.

“When we don’t take time out to meet the need for privacy we are more likely to become stressed. When we become stressed it is harder to think clearly and we are more likely to make mistakes. That’s why, at Suffolk Mind, we are keen to encourage people to take time out, away from their desks, computer and mobile screens, just to take a break, calm down and enjoy some ‘me’ time. 

“We would like employers and employees to join us in meeting our need for privacy, by taking timeout, just 10 minutes away from our desks and screens each day for Stoptober. We think we’ll all really notice the benefits. After all, if we’re being well, we’re more likely to work well.”

Members of the Suffolk Mind team delivering supported housing in Woodbridge previously identified privacy as an emotional need that was not being well met. The charity decided to fund the installation of a small wooden hut, with heating and lighting, to serve as a staff room.

Jon Neal, chief executive of Suffolk Mind, said: “We run a regular staff survey which asks people a few simple questions about meeting key physical and emotional needs to ensure their mental wellbeing. This is a tool that we also use with our Workplace Wellbeing clients. It often raises interesting questions, as it did in this case.

“When we discovered the need for privacy was not scoring well in this particular team, we investigated further and found out that colleagues had nowhere to go to get time to themselves. Some had even resorted to taking breaks in their car. Of course we decided to do something about it.

“For most employers during Stoptober, however, all we’re asking is that they encourage their staff to take their breaks. If there are other changes that can be made, all the better.”

Five tips for creating a healthy workplace that enables people to get their need for privacy met:

  1. Encourage staff to take their breaks instead of eating lunch at their desks
  2. Start lunchtime walking groups
  3. Check that staff break facilities enable people to sit on their own if they want to. Sometimes a small change here and there can make a big difference
  4. Give yourself a break by turning your phone off for 10 minutes and finding somewhere quiet which is free from distractions  
  5. Vary your journey home by taking a walk through a park or stopping somewhere quiet to give yourself some time to slow down and process the day

Suffolk Mind would like to hear from organisations and individuals that are making changes during Stoptober. If you’re happy to share your story with us, please email 


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