Photo credit: Lindsey Bahia on Unsplash

Guest Blog Post: Patrick Bailey

A note from learndrumsforfree.comMany thanks to Patrick for writing this article. I can certainly say that playing drums helped me get through my teenage years. I also think as an adult, stresses can get intense in many different ways and that drumming is an excellent and fun way of releasing stress. Before you read the article, I would like to draw attention to the word ‘Relieve’ in the title, because it’s important to note that this isn’t going to be a total fix, but it could be one of the things that helps. One point that I would like to add is that if you already can play the drums and haven’t been playing them much for a while, and you have stress and anxiety in your life, then I can’t think of a better reason to get into a regular practice routine. See if it helps.

There’s meditation, exercise, and holistic diets to help people with mental health issues–but one overlooked hobby to help reduce stress is playing a musical instrument, particularly drums. What are some of the mental health benefits of playing drums? Read to find out more.

When people think of musical instruments, they immediately associate it with talents or passion. A person usually plays drums because it’s their life calling–though it can be an exaggeration at times, this is true for the most part.


However, playing drums can also serve not just as a hobby or passion, but rather as a catalyst for change in terms of mental health. With mental health problems on the rise such as anxiety and depression, people are trying to find healthy, non-medicated ways to deal with their condition.


The current state of mental health problems

Anxiety disorders are considered one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. Almost 20% of the country’s population have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders, and the numbers continue to rise. This also excludes people who show anxiety or depressive disorders without going through a proper medical diagnosis.


Mental health problems can be quite a challenge to detect and manage because unlike physical diseases, their symptoms can be subtle or deliberately hidden from others. Some people who go through mental health issues can often be scared to come out due to the negative stigma associated with conditions such as anxiety or depression.


Some of the common signs of anxiety and depression include:


  • Constant rumination of worries that snowball and get bigger and bigger
  • Breathing problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Feelings of paranoia
  • Lack of interest in daily activities
  • Overeating or loss of appetite
  • Feeling hopeless, down, or distressed for prolonged periods of time
  • Thoughts of self-harm
  • Irritability towards others
  • Easily agitated
  • Difficulty coping with responsibilities


Remember that the symptoms of anxiety and depression can overlap. Since anxious people are often depressed, they also tend to seek unhealthy coping methods such as addictions or self-harm. If you think that you or a loved one’s life may be at risk, don’t hesitate to seek help right away.


The best way to deal with mental health problems is to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A psychiatrist will be able to recommend specific strategies, both through medical interventions and therapeutic strategies to help address the condition. Some of the most common strategies to help people with anxiety is through pursuit of hobbies and interests. Anxiety disorders can be relieved through art, music, or movement.


How does playing drums help relieve stress and anxiety?

Vibrations and beats can help reduce stress levels in the body.

Although drums are not considered part of the melody and you can’t really think of notes and tunes, it is true that vibrations and beats can still help reduce stress levels in the body. This is because the rhythm being introduced auditorily helps release the antibodies called immunoglobin A. Immunoglobin A is a substance that helps reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is a responsible trigger for stress and anxiety.


When cortisol levels are continuously high, the body responds through various physical and mental symptoms. You may be prone to more infections, be at risk for cardiovascular diseases, and also develop anxiety disorders. Playing drums and learning to follow through rhythms can help boost antibodies for your overall wellness.


Drumming is a physical activity.

It’s no longer a mystery with how physical activity can help relieve mental health problems. This is because when we exercise, our bodies release neurochemicals such as dopamine and serotonin which are considered “feel-good” substances. These chemicals are naturally released in the body which provides us with vitality and elevated moods.


Thus, drumming can also be an option for people who want to hit three birds in one stone–those who want to relieve mental tension, learn a new skill, and burn calories all at the same time! One hour of drumming can help burn about 250 calories for an 180 lb individual. Some common cardio exercises like indoor cycling, running, or dancing can produce identical results. If you’re musically inclined but want to be physically active, then drumming might just be the perfect hobby for you.


Playing drums is also a mindfulness exercise.

One of the roadblocks to curing anxiety and depression is constant rumination of past experiences or worries that are in the far future or non-existent. Mindfulness is the principle that helps people think of the present moment to release their thoughts and feelings from forming irrational responses.


Playing the drums means learning how to tap or respond to the rhythm being played, or being able to set a consistent pace. This requires the brain to think of the present with complete focus in order to avoid losing the beat. In a way, playing the drums can be a great way to include as a part of one’s mindfulness routines for treating anxiety and depression.


Playing through rhythmic music can make you smarter.

It may be puzzling to see a connection here, but it is good to know that researchers saw a correlation with increased intelligence scores and playing to rhythmic music such as tapping the drums. It is apparent that keeping a steady beat helps develop the brain’s problem solving skills.


Often, people with anxiety or depressive mood disorders can have a lack of self-worth. They would often feel unaccomplished or unable to ‘match up’ to other people in terms of their skills and accomplishments in life. Playing the drums can serve as a way to boost one’s confidence and motivation to continuously pursue a potential musical passion.


Playing the drums can be a social activity.

Music is a universal language–it transcends language barriers and helps people connect despite their diversities. Listening to music, playing music, and enjoying music together is one of the best social activities one can engage in.


When people play drums, it can be an open door to form friendships, share life experiences, and simply enjoy the presence of others through music. Thus, it can be a helpful social activity that can reduce anxiety and depression.


Drum your stresses away

Sometimes, passions are discovered in the moment. If you are on the fence about the exploring the wonderful world of drumming, perhaps you can give the hobby a try as a stress reliever. Who knows? It can help give a sense of fulfillment that you may not have experienced if it weren’t for picking up that drumstick or trying out that first tap.

Other instruments can help too. Read here about the surprising benefits of playing guitar.