Drumming is a pleasurable experience, in-and-of-itself, but there is more to it than banging on a djembe, congas or a full drum set. Drumming has been shown to reduce and alleviate stress and anxiety, favorably affect brain development, help people bond better, and boost the immune system. These “side effects” of drumming not only improve life for the drummer, but they can also aid in the improvement of entire communities.
One thing many drummers will tell you is that they feel better when they drum. There is a lot to be said for making some noise. After all, babies have gotten a kick out of banging on pots and pans, the floor... walls... and sometimes their parents' heads.. Anyone looking can see how happy it makes them. But, noise is not the only thing being produced. When we drum, no matter how old we may be, "feel-good" chemicals are released into our bloodstreams and we begin to feel better. This change helps us to feel more relaxed, lowering our stress and anxiety levels enough that we sometimes begin to feel euphoric.
Stress is a killer. Scientists have been able to link it to many preventable problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Since one “side effect” of drumming is a lessening of stress, it would benefit people to pick up a drum or two. Drumming also helps relieve pain, for the same reason. The chemicals mentioned earlier are more commonly known as endorphins, but drumming also gets our bodies to produce more endogenous opiates which can help with chronic pain issues.
Study after study shows that drumming helps our bodies and brains work better. By getting the right and left hemispheres of our brain in better sync with one another, drumming is able to help us become more creative and introspective. This “side effect” of drumming has many benefits. Our jobs and other hobbies will surely reap the rewards, but our personal relationships will, as well. Drumming can help us experience deeper satisfaction in our lives because we are able to see our behaviors and tendencies more clearly through the clarity of drumming and the "mindfulness" aspect of being a part of music and rhythm. For this reason, many schools and after-school programs are adding drumming to their curricula, reaching kids on a non-judgmental, fun and educational level, helping to build self-esteem and provide better methods of communication.
While there are many activities that can help improve a person’s ability to deal with the stressors of daily living, the “side effects” of drumming are both recreational and therapeutic. Many people turn to drumming as a fun activity that is easy to pick up. However, when we look at how drumming improves lives, we find that such a fun and easy way to spend time actually improves our health and overall wellbeing. With the wide range of benefits that come from drumming, there's no reason to not kick out a beat and pound away to your own unique and healthy rhythm.