Beat Stress Away

Bang a drum to relieve stress.

Stress is one of the most prevalent health issues in our society today. A little stress is good—even healthy, but a lot of stress is not so good. Long-term, chronic stress can take a toll on mind, body, and spirit and have lasting consequences for our health—compromising our sleep, immune system, physical health, and emotional wellbeing.

In a perfect world, preventing and managing stress would be a daily habit—through healthy diet, exercise, and sleep we can mitigate the effects of chronic stress. But we don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes, despite our best efforts, the stress can build up and bubble over. When all else fails, perhaps it’s time to bang on a drum. That’s right, drumming has been shown to relieve stress and improve the immune system.

The Magic of the Drum

Group drumming has long been a component of healing rituals in many cultures throughout the world. While to some, drum circles may seem otherworldly or even a little “woo-woo”, it turns out our ancestors were likely onto something that is rooted in science. Drumming isn’t just fun and beautiful—it affects us on a cellular level. In fact, as scientists continue to study the effects of music—and drumming, in particular—the data is consistent: it reduces stress hormones, like cortisol; reduces anxiety and depression; boosts the immune system; and even reverses multiple components of the human stress response on the genomic level.

In other words, when the beat of the drum stops you in your tracks, it’s not your imagination—the rhythm has an impact.

Bang a Drum

If you’ve never tried it, don’t be shy. Grab a drum, join a group, and find your rhythm. Drumming is a fun, engaging activity that naturally leads to joy and release. By joining in a pulsing rhythm, you can channel your stress into beautiful music and let go of tension. If you’re feeling anxious and aggressive, you can take those emotions out on the drum and watch them transform.

Drumming can be beneficial on a variety of levels. Fast-paced, rhythmic drumming increases energy and gets you moving—resulting in a sweaty, exuberant release. But slower, softer drumming also has its place. Often drumming can be used to induce a calm, meditative state, which slows the mind and promotes relaxation. Drumming can even be used to synchronize breathing.

Try It

If you’re looking for a fun way to blow off some steam and keep stress at bay, give drumming a try. Many communities offer drumming classes and drum circles. Some even offer classes specifically designed for stress relief. The research is clear—group drumming is a powerful tool for combating the effects of cumulative stress. So let the rhythm move you—from stress to peace.


Bittman B, Berk LS, Felten DL, et al. Composite effects of group drumming music therapy on modulation of neuroendocrine-immune parameters in normal subjects. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2001; 7:38-47.

Bittman B, Berk LS, Shannon M, et al. Recreational music-making modulates the human stress response: a preliminary individualized gene expression strategy. Medical Science Monitor. 2005; 11(2):BR31-40.