Our creative process is an ever-evolving, living being. It requires just as much attention, care and love as we do. Most of us create because we have an unquenchable inner desire. When that desire is muted it can cause stress, anxiety, low mood, fractiousness and more. This can lead to procrastination, over-complication, discrediting what we’ve already made or simply giving up. When a client comes to me with these issues, I help them to navigate their way from creative full stop to accepting the bumps as part of their creative process and utilizing the difficulty they face as an opportunity to try doing things differently.
If you feel like you’ve been struggling to start, are uninspired, bored with your creative routine or just want to change things up a bit, this exercise is for you. It’s designed to leave you feeling lighter, refreshed and renewed so that you can create joyfully and freely, unencumbered by any mental or physical heaviness.
It’s particularly helpful for those who stand and paint for hours on end or sit hunched over, drawing or making. Playing with this exercise can help to boost endorphins, release tense muscles, oxygenate your blood, focus your mind in a relaxed way and leave you feeling more in control of your time and process.
The exercise is called Dance Your Heart Out.
Have you ever seen anyone dancing to a piece of music they love without a smile on their face? We’ve all seen this reaction in children and adults the world over. Music and movement simply create a magic nothing else can replicate.
What you need:
A space of any size – don’t let a small space put you off – it can actually challenge you to become even more creative with your movement!
Some favorite music – anything that makes you smile and want to move to when you hear it!
Before you start:
It’s really important to prepare your body, especially if you’ve been sedentary for a while. I recommend doing some spinal rolls and gentle swings to wake your body up. Here’s how to do them.
Spinal Rolls: with your feet hip distance apart, toes facing forward and a slight bend in your knees, take a breath in. As you exhale slowly, gently allow your chin to drop naturally towards your chest. Allow this motion to continue down each vertebra of your spine as you fold forwards dropping your shoulders, rolling down towards your chest, stomach, hips, knees and toes very slowly and gently, exhaling as you go. Allow the knees to bend as you roll forward, this releases the lower back. Let your arms drop naturally towards the floor.
Take a deep inhale and on the exhale, feel your feet root into the earth, push down through your heels and begin rolling slowly back up starting with your lower back and rolling through each vertebra until your head is the last thing to come up. Repeat as much as needed until you feel more supple, open and relaxed. Many of us have stiff backs or areas we can’t feel – you don’t need to roll up and down perfectly – just listen to your body and do what feels good for you.
Swings: with your feet planted hip distance apart, toes facing forward and a slight bend in your knees, gently turn your torso and head from side to side (facing the left side of the room and then the right side) allowing your arms to swing naturally with you. Keep breathing naturally with the swings. It’s important not to force your body to twist. Start small and allow your body to gradually open up in its own time.
When you’re ready, press play on your favorite tracks and go! You can move as gently or fiercely as you wish (making sure to be careful of your back, knees or any injuries you may have). Dance with all your heart and soul in whatever way you wish for as long or short a time as you wish. You could imagine you’re moving with the gentle currents in the ocean or reliving a fabulous concert you went to years back. There are no rules – only how you want to move in the moment.
If you have limited movement capability it needn’t stop you from doing this exercise. You can do this sitting and only moving your arms, shoulders and head. You could also do it lying down and allowing the breath to move through your body, undulating. Remember, your imagination is limitless and can always take you where you need to go. Sometimes dancing in your mind is enough to release you from the tension of the day.
Notice how different you feel from start to finish. You may feel like journaling or jotting down a few ideas after you’ve finished your movement. Freeing up your body often frees up your thinking.
My clients love doing this at home because they literally get to dance like no-one’s watching.
It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed or heavy with the weight of starting or completing a project and marketing and selling it. This exercise wakes you up and frees you up to help you let go of the heaviness and embrace the joy of doing the work you love with a lighter heart.
About Steph Cohen
Steph Cohen is an actress, writer and creativity coach from the UK and based in Spain. She has a degree in English Literature from Cambridge University, a degree in Contemporary Dance from Birkbeck and The Place and has worked across multiple industries including dance, literary publishing, finance, marketing, graphic design and more. As well as pursuing her own creative career, Steph coaches artists of all disciplines to help them discover what works for them to create consistently and joyfully while achieving their deepest creative dreams.
You can find out more at:
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your article, I agree fulheartedly with you. I am an artist who works in oils and due to sitting or standing without movement can tie my shoulders and neck in knots as I concentrate on my painting. I love music in all its guises and luckily for me my other enjoyment is participating in ballet so when I put down my brushes you would find me putting music applicable for ballet and dancing round my artroom. A great way to unwind those tense muscles.