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7 Ways Taking Up The Drums Will Improve Your Life

7 Ways Taking Up The Drums Will Improve Your Life

Percussion is an exciting and health boosting activity which is noted by the scientific community for its ability to alleviate modern day stresses. Renowned neurologist Oliver Sacks states in Musicophilia all humans, “can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch, intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally) rhythm. We integrate all of these and ‘construct’ music in our minds using many different parts of the brain. And to this largely unconscious structural appreciation of music is added an often intense and profound emotional reaction.”

Drumming promotes a rhythm intrinsically acquired from ancient humans. Whilst it’s a primal activity, the health benefits are now understood to be highly beneficial. This is how to tap into the physical and psychology highs of the drumming world.

Drummers

    1. It’s fun!

    Playing the drums is great fun. No matter your ability level, it’s a highly enjoyable way of awakening primitive rhythms. As neurologist Dr Barry Bittman (CEO of the Yamaha and Wellness Institute in Pensylvania) has stated, “Drums are accessible and don’t present the challenge of a learning curve – anyone regardless of handicap can sit and beat out a rhythm on a drum.”

    Drumming can be a tremendous social experience, enhancing the fun factor. Dr. Bittman has championed group music therapy in a paper titled Composite Effects of Group Drumming Music TherapyIn this he claims, “Response to rhythm is basic to human functioning, making these percussion activities and techniques highly motivating to people of all ages and backgrounds.”

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    2. A boost for the immune system.

    A study led by Dr. Bittman suggests drumming is good for the immune system. He acknowledges“Group drumming tunes our biology, orchestrates our immunity, and enables healing to begin.” His research has demonstrated how a group drumming session (which he has dubbed a HealthRhythm) can create illness-killing cells, which could protect the body.

    The research is cited extensively in the drumming community, such as with specialists Remo: “Remo’s Health Rhythms Department is on the forefront of establishing a solid foundation for proving the biological benefits of drumming. Neurologist Barry Bittman, M.D. and his renowned research team discovered that a specific group drumming approach (HealthRHYTHMS protocol) significantly increased the disease fighting activity of circulating white blood cells (Natural Killer cells) that seek out and destroy cancer cells and virally-infected cells.”

    3. Intellectual development. 

    It’s suggested drumming can lead to greater cognitive functioning. This is especially important with younger generations. Stanford University researched the effects of 20 minutes of rhythmic music with middle-school boys struggling with Attention Deficit Disorder. The results led to a boost in IQ scores and improved concentration. Howard Russell, a clinical psychologist involved in the study, said, “For most of us, the brain is locked into a particular level of functioning. If we ultimately speed up or slow down the brainwave activity, then it becomes much easier for the brain to shift its speed as needed.”

    Although further research is needed for conclusive evidence, studies to date are encouraging for musical therapy.

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    4. Social and creative development.

    Drumming can be enjoyed by everyone and unites all cultures and ages across the world. Drummers can join bands, meet new people, and contribute to songs, whilst through group therapy sessions people can forge lifelong friendships. It’s a global language everyone could, and should, be a part of.

    5. Fitness.

    Drumming makes for a fun way to exercise. The fitter you are the easier it is to play for longer periods of time, which provides an incentive to be healthy.

    It’s well noted in the drumming community, with former drummer for The Clash, Nick Headon, pointing out, “Its a physical activity, it stimulates parts of the brain keeping the four limbs doing something different, and it is primeval as well – drums were the first instrument: before music, people were banging things together.”

    6. Pain relief. 

    Research from group drumming sessions suggests it is a sufficient distraction to alleviate pain, even if it’s chronic. The activity promotes endorphin production and endogenous opiates – these are the human body’s natural painkillers. It can also distract attention away from grief.

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    7. Combat stress, depression, and neurological conditions.

    Dr. Barry Bittman’s research indicates drumming relaxes people, which helps lower blood pressure and reduces stress. The latter is a contemporary issue which contributes to many health problems, such as heart attacks and strokes. Modern life demands time for proper relaxation, and drumming offers a stress free activity where people can let themselves go.

    Even more encouraging are the results suggesting drumming can alleviate serious neurological conditions. Neurologist Oliver Sacks, in his book Musicophilia, has noted the ability of natural rhythms to assist people with their troubles: “While music can affect all of us – calm us, animate us, comfort us, thrill us, or serve to organize and synchronize us at work or play – it may be especially powerful and have great therapeutic potential for patients with a variety of neurological conditions.” Research is ongoing, but in the coming years we can hope for encouraging news.

    Types of Drums

    Drum kit

      If you’re interested in taking up percussion, there are numerous options available. Whilst a drum kit is arguably the most famous form, there are accessible alternatives: congas, tambourines, wood blocks, xylophones, tablas, and tom-toms. These can be picked up at a cheap price.

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      To keep expenditures to a minimum, household objects (such as pots, pans, and plastic containers) can be assembled to create a makeshift kit. This is a popular technique for many street drummers across the world. Elsewhere, you could attend group music/therapy sessions in your community – an ideal way to meet new people and get started.

      Drum kits can be expensive and won’t be ideal for everyone, although second hand kits can be well priced and are perfect for beginners. If you live in a flat and don’t want to annoy your neighbors, you could consider electronic kits. They’re ideal for silent playing, but vary in affordability.

      Useful Drumming Tutorials

      For anyone eager to get onto a kit, do note few people have the natural ability to play brilliantly instantaneously. Don’t be put off by this – it takes time to develop the required skills. There are simple rudiments you can learn to get started, which you can find on free tutorial sites such as Drum LessonsFree Drum Lessons, or Drum Channel (which offers a free trial).

      YouTube has thousands of free guides for budding drummers; there are channels dedicated to techniques and tips (such as Drum Channel or Drumeo). YouTube is also a source of historical footage of legendary drummers in action – watching them play is vital for tips. Notable drummers for inspiration include: Ginger Baker, Reni, Jaki Liebezeit, Levon Helm, Art Blakey, Joe Morello, John Bonham, Buddy Rich, and Gene Krupa.

      Even at the most fundamental level you can purchase some drum sticks and practice on a cushion at home. From here you can enjoy the full benefits of a wonderfully productive, ancient activity.

      Featured photo credit: House on the Rock/Joseph Kranak via flickr.com

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      Alex Morris

      Content Manager, Copywriter, & Blogger

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      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

      Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

      But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

      Sight – Visual Stimulation

      The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

      1. Maximize your exposure to light.

      Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

      Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

      2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

      Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

      Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

      Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

      3. Take note of your environment.

      Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

      By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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      Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

      What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

      4. Engage in conversation.

      Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

      Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

      Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

      Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

      5. Listen to upbeat music.

      Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

      Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

      Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

      If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

      6. Work your nose.

      Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

      If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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      Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

      Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

      If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

      7. Have a good breakfast.

      Start off with the most important meal of the day.

      Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

      Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

      Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

      20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

      8. Drink lots of water.

      Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

      So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

      How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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      Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

      3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

      9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

      Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

      Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

      Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

      25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

      Touch – Tactile Stimulation

      Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

      10. Splash cold water on your face.

      Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

      This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

      5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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      11. Use acupressure.

      Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

      Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

      12. Get moving.

      Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

      And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

      You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

      Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

      Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

      Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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