It is "vital" that employees take regular breaks from their work in order to ward of stress, the International Stress Management Association (ISMA) has claimed.

A spokesperson for the organisation said taking time out can help to "refresh the body and mind" and combat the affects of workplace pressure.

"If a lunch hour is not possible then short breaks regularly can be effective," she advised.

And she said practicing "deep abdominal breathing" and taking quick walks around the office can also be useful in between breaks.

"It will clear the mind and reduce the flow of adrenaline which winds up the body and mind," she explained.

Her comments come after research from the human resources firm Chiumento revealed that just 16 per cent of employees take an hour-long lunch break at least three times a week.

According to the Stress Management Society stress is the single biggest cause of sickness absence in the UK.