Education Mutual’s top tips to cope with anxiety and panic in the workplace

Head teachers are the captains of the ship. They are the role models that teachers, students and the community look up to, and they are the people that, when things go wrong, are the first in line. There is no wonder so many of our head teachers are struggling with anxiety and panic. Without proper care for our school leaders’ mental health, the often unique set of challenges facing them can continue to build to a point that can be detrimental to their ability to keep the ship afloat, leaving them feeling deflated and unmotivated. Here are Education Mutual’s top tips to cope with anxiety and panic in the workplace, and how to create a positive mental health environment.


Breathing exercises

The simple act of mindfulness and deep, controlled breathing can positively impact both the body and the mind. When faced with stress, the body activates the fight or flight response, leading to increased heart rate and shallow breathing. By focussing on your breathing when under pressure, you are allowing your body to return to a normal pattern and calming your mind of its racing thoughts. Spending time breathing between tasks, can forge a habit which can be a valuable coping mechanism.


Effective delegation and goal setting

Effectively delegating tasks can be a great method of relieving anxiety and panic. Empowering and trusting your staff to take on responsibilities can allow you some room to breathe. Building a capable and supportive team around you creates a collaborative environment in which pressure is not solely on the shoulders of one individual. It’s also important to remember that staff thrive in positive environments, so celebrating achievements, setting goals, and assisting where needed helps maintain focus, contributing to a more positive mindset for all.


Flipping a switch.

When situations arise at work, it’s easy to take them home with you, affecting a wide range of areas, including appetite and sleep, causing irritability and nervousness. Once you get home from work, imagine you are flipping a light switch off. Do an activity that takes your mind of the stress and challenges of the day and allow yourself the time to relax. Creating a good work-life balance can be difficult, but once mastered, it can really improve mental health and leave you prepared for another day at work.



Counselling can be a great way of releasing steam. As a school leader, the many different responsibilities that fall to you can often be overwhelming. Speaking with a trained professional not only offers an emotional outlet, but can provide you with excellent stress management tips, help to identify potential trigger points and the important skill of building resilience. Being able to bounce back from setbacks is crucial for long-term well-being and effective leadership and can inspire your team.

The well-being of a head teacher is the most important aspect in running a positive and thriving school community and keeping on top of mental health is the way to do it. By using these simple tips and seeking help when you need it, you can make sure the ship keeps sailing in the right direction.


NAHT Wellness and Protect

NAHT Wellness and Protect is staff absence protection, provided by Education Mutual, with complimentary whole school well-being and leadership support and is exclusive to NAHT members.

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