6 Things to think about to support people when doing the exams

If, like me, you have a teenager about to take their exams and is experiencing stress at this important time. I wondered how best to help, alongside my work as a massage therapist.  I asked a local coach and Psychotherapist for some help to get my daughter through this time.

Shaun Hotchkiss is a coach and psychotherapist who has spent many years supporting young people, students and various professionals in working through exams, professional development and challenging projects.

I’ve added a couple of notes as well to use to help with wellbeing.

Here are his 6 top tips for being at your best during these times:

  • The environment – First of all look at the basics, is it too hot or too cold, light enough, has access to toilets and drinks and anything else your body needs to be at its’s best. Desk, comfy chairs, facilities etc.

Ensure you have the correct support for you body and that you have good posture. This will allow the body to not be under stress. See the attached pictures to help set up your workspace, and make sure you have a work and home space clearly identified.

What you need to think about is:

  • How could you get them sitting in a supported position at a table/desk?  (Get them away from sitting on a sofa/floor when using the equipment etc)
  • Can you use pillows to support their back / elevate them in the chair (if it’s needed).
  • Breaks, more frequent breaks as they won’t have external devices. They can still stand up and stretch out.
  • How can you make breaks fun, that breaks away from the slumped seated posture? Something that they would like to do/want to do? Competition time for example for star jumps? How can you get them to move more outside? Could they do a bike/running challenge (obviously with parents being involved).
  • Your behaviours – Can you do what you want to do, in the environment you have created? Is your behaviour, the things you are doing, going to get you the results you want?

Don’t forget the importance of a break. We only absorb information in a small window. Study for 20-25 mins then take a break and move. It has been shown that we take in information when we move after studying.

  • Your skills – Are there any additional skills you need to add in now, to affect your behaviour in the environment you have created. Depending on where you are in your timeline, it may be too late to learn a new computer program. There is always time to learn how to breath and calm your mind to enhance your performance.

I’ve added a link to a mindfulness site to help calm the mind for you.

  • Beliefs and values – Spend some time checking in, what you believe about the projects you are engage with. If the believes are positive, this will support your motivation. If negative it might be worth tuning your thoughts.
  • Purpose – What’s the overriding bigger purpose of this project, and how does that fit in with what is good for you, your family, work, community. Connecting to our higher purpose, is hugely motivating to our behaviours as discussed above.
  • Connection – When all of the above are aligned and working together harmoniously this makes possible, deeper connection with yourself, others and the communities and systems we live in. And where our higher rewards for undertaking the project are revealed.

If you are struggling with exams, professional development, or a challenging project, and you can see a gap in any of the above and would like to explore it further. Contact Dawn at dawn@trainingattention.co.uk . Or contact Neil Demuth, to understand how massage therapy and workstation assessments can help with mental and physical stress at ndmt74@gmail.com 

The pictures below identify the correct positions for both laptop, picture 1, desktop PC, picture 3, and how your work zones should be with your workstation. The link is for some mindfulness help.

7 mindfulness tips to help students deal with exam stress | ACS International Schools (acs-schools.com)

The Difference Between Swedish Massage & Deep Tissue Massage

What’s the difference between Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage?

When clients visit they ask about the different types of massage and what they do? So here I am to answer this question about two of the most popular types of massage.


This is the type most people would associate as being your typical spa massage. It is primarily designed to stimulate relaxation and help relieve tension. This is done by using various techniques, including effleurage, petrissage and tapotement, to move the skin and muscles thus releasing the tension you have. The therapist will more than likely only use their hands in applying pressure to your body throughout this type of treatment.

Deep Tissue

This type of massage is designed to breakdown any adhesions or knots you have in your muscles and tissues. This is done by using a deeper pressure with some of the same techniques as used in Swedish but also including stripping and frictioning. Its aim is to release new areas of aching or stiffness and the therapist may use more than just their hands including knuckles and elbows. All of this will be done whilst checking you’re not in pain. With a deep tissue massage you may feel some tightness after, but this will pass within the next 24-48 hours.

Which do I choose?

Swedish is aimed at those that are stressed or achy from a long work out or day at work. For deep tissue it’s for those with a specific injury or area of tightness for example migraines or workout tightness/ injury.

I hope this helps with your decision.


Deep Tissue vs Sports Massage

Deep Tissue vs Sports Massage

I get asked this question all the time. What’s the difference between the two?

They are in fact very similar as they use similar techniques and have the same end goals, but there are important differences so read on to see what they are so you can make an informed choice when you’re ready to book.

Deep Tissue

So as it says a deep tissue massage is just that. The therapist uses a firm pressure to manipulate the muscles and deeper tissues in the body. The main focus is the reduction of new areas of tension across the entire body rather than dealing with any old injuries or lager knots you may have.

This manipulation will move and stretch muscles and tissues, leading to increased blood flow and breaking down of the knots. It will sometimes feel like a good workout, so may leave you feeling a bit sore or achy. This will pass within the next 48-72 hours.

Sports Massage

Sports massage is designed to help deal with the larger and older knots, and also help in the recovery from injury. The therapist will not only use massage techniques but also active and passive stretching techniques that will improve range of movement and flexibility to help prevent future injury.

Your Sports massage therapist will have a deeper understanding of the anatomy than a deep tissue massage therapist. A postural assessment will be required to get to the root cause of the issue you want looking at as well as a more detailed consultation. There will be more movement from you, the client, so your therapist can mobilise the joint. Your therapist may use a number of techniques from Neuro muscular and muscle energy to soft tissue release and trigger point therapy.

All of this may have some discomfort but should not be painful, and your therapist will check to make sure of this. The “No Pain No Gain” theory no longer applies.

In conclusion then Deep Tissue is used for new areas of tension and aches, whilst Sports is aimed at the knots and injuries that have been there for a while.

I hope this has helped.