Dance Health

Feeling stuck? Here’s how to move through it!

dancer needing motivation

Many of us look forward to Groundhog Day to predict how much longer we will have to endure winter. Will Punxsutawney Phil see his shadow, or is spring around the corner? You may or may not be familiar with the classic movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray. His character is caught in a time loop, reliving the same day over and over again. Perhaps you have a sense of routinely doing the same thing, day in and day out. Many people can relate to the monotony and humdrum of the winter months.  

The New Year has come and gone and perhaps with it so has the motivation to stick to those resolutions. We are back in the routine we had before the holidays and the winter breaks and may be feeling bored, unmotivated and stuck. I personally have always used this time of year to tap into motivation and get ready to embrace the thaw, physically and emotionally. It can be hard enough to make healthy lifestyle changes, but staying motivated is a major component to seeing lasting effects. As dancers and movers, we may be continuing to move throughout the winter months, but how do we challenge the status quo? How can we reconnect to movement to get us out of a rut and in to a fresh start?

Here are some tips to staying motivated when you feel anything but and how to get yourself out of a rut and into a new and exciting routine.  

#1.Try something new. 

It’s important to switch up your routine, not only to combat boredom but also to keep your brain and body flexible. Going out of your comfort zone, although scary, can have lasting benefits. Try a new dance style, take class from a new instructor, or try something less structured like authentic movement, ecstatic dance or improvisation.  

#2. Embrace a new environment. 

We are often a product of our environment which can help us or hinder us. It may take a change in scenery to jumpstart a change in your routine. While we cannot all afford the time or luxury to take a vacation, consider stepping into a new dance studio, eating at a new restaurant or finding a quiet spot in your neighborhood outside of your home.  

#3. Take some time off. 

What you might need the most is some downtime, a break from your normal dance/movement routine. When was the last time you took time for you? Often times, our routine is just that — routine. We are operating on autopilot and forget to take a break from it. Take a step back, and give yourself some space from the monotony and predictability of your daily regimen.

#4. Grab a partner. 

Are you having trouble holding yourself accountable? Find a buddy to help you out of your rut. Remember, it’s not about competition but collaboration and support. If you are really adventurous, try making a new friend, one who can join you in or reinforce your new routine.

#5. Challenge yourself. 

Always set goals for yourself in order to measure progress and encourage improvement. We don’t grow from a place of comfort and familiarity. We must step out of our comfort zone if we want to progress and change. To be honest, challenging ourselves isn’t just about learning a new trick, perfecting a split or nailing that triple turn. A challenge can be just the opposite. It might mean slowing down, not pushing through the pain and listening to your body when exhaustion sets in. Most importantly, changing your routine means challenging your habits.

To avoid living the same day over and over again, it is vital that we challenge the way we move. Are you constantly moving? Then take a break. Not moving enough or feeling frozen? Try micro movements to get your muscles loose and your mind mobile. For those of us who find safety and focus in a daily routine, it is important to maintain the structure that the routine provides without losing motivation and creativity. Be sure to keep those goals in mind when moving through your rut. We want to have power over our choices rather than allowing those daily regimens to have power over us. Most of all, remember that a rut is just a sign that we need a change. Find ways to make small changes, and you will see big rewards.  

Erica Hornthal.

By Erica Hornthal, LCPC, BC-DMT, Dance/Movement Therapist.

Erica Hornthal is a licensed professional clinical counselor and board certified dance/movement therapist based in Chicago, IL. She received her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago and her BS in Psychology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Erica is the founder and CEO of Chicago Dance Therapy, the premier dance therapy and counseling practice in Chicago, IL. As a body-centered psychotherapist, Erica assists clients of all ages and abilities in harnessing the power of the mind-body connection to create greater awareness and understanding of emotional and mental health. For more, visit

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