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Small steps to take when you're going through a difficult time

When you're feeling down, every direction you turn can feel like you're hitting a brick wall.

It can make you feel like you're trapped in a dark maze, trying to get out but end up walking along a never-ending corridor.

At times we find ourselves in unexpected and difficult situations. Whether a relative has passed away, you've broken up with your partner, you are being evicted from your home, university assessments are piling up and you are unable to concentrate; you are struggling to accept your sexuality or you are being victimised at work. We never know what life will throw at us.

No one is perfect. Do not be too hard on yourself. Give yourself a break. Do not be afraid to ask for help.

Take small steps to achieve attainable goals. Here is a list of achievable goals which will help you focus on getting through the day.

1. Have a bath

If you are privileged enough to have a bath in your home, use it. Set a goal to have one warm bath each day. A hot bath is a relaxing experience, try it. Put in a bit of bubble bath or even treat yourself to a luxury bath bomb from Lush. Get in the bath, lie back, close your eyes and it will feel like you are in heaven. It is a brilliant way to relax, empty your mind and it gives you time out from all the chaos in a mad world.

2. Breathe in and out

I know this sounds obvious but it is surprising how many people forget to breathe. Take ten minutes out each day to sit in a quiet space and take deep breaths. Start slowly, breathing in through your nose, until you feel the breath sink into your stomach and then blow out through your mouth. It will release stress. The bonus about breathing exercises is they are free, you can do it standing up, sitting down, on your back or even while sitting on the bus. You can do breathing exercises anywhere. If you were sitting in a seminar which was stressful then take time out after to breathe. If you find it helps then you could take it further by joining a yoga group or getting a book out of the library on breathing exercises.

3. Have a cup of tea and a custard cream

According to Richard Franks, 'a cup of tea is often the first port of call in the morning and the last in the evening for the Great British public.' Take time out each day to drink a warm cup of tea and dip in a custard cream. Give time back to yourself.

4. Listen to classical music

Lie down on the floor in your home, lie down on your bed, lie down on the settee or even in the bath and listen to some classical music. Like all instrumental music, it isn't feeding words into your mind. It isn't using words to brainwash you. In fact, classical music expands and opens your mind. The beautiful rhythms free your mind, they produce creative thoughts and ideas. A good place to start is with a classical pianist called Stephen Hough, his music will invigorate and inspire you. Set yourself a goal to listen to one classical piece each day.

5. Speak to a stranger

Set a goal to say hello to at least one stranger each day. If the first bit of dialogue goes well then you could start a full-blown conversation. It might be a homeless person, someone in the lift, someone in the corridor, a member of university staff or even a shop assistant. Say hello and if you feel brave then tell them one thing about yourself. It could be what your favourite colour is, what your favourite food is, what your favourite book is or how you came to be standing where you are.

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