Beating Stress and ADHD with Drumming

Feeling stressed out? As I mentioned in my last post, stress can really take its toll on your body, mind, and spirit. The best way I’ve found to beat stress and improve focusing and clarity is drumming – for kids and adults!

Why drumming is different

There are many different practices that can help alleviate or eliminate stress such as deep breathing, exercise, meditation, etc. However, for those of us who have difficulty sitting still and quieting our minds, nothing beats drumming. I work well with those with ADHD because I have the symptoms myself.

As a percussionist, I discovered how energized and focused I felt when I drummed (either solo or in a band). The after-effect was calmness and improved clarity. Of course, whacking on a drum (or drums) definitely helps with stress relief!

The experiment

I began wondering if there really is something to this drumming thing. I did some research and discovered that there are such things as drum therapy and therapeutic drumming and received training in each.

My first clients were my tutoring students with ADHD issues (I was an educational consultant and private tutor at the time.). I began creating my own drumming techniques and added deep breathing, and affirmations to help calm my clients’ racing thoughts and release stress. They felt much better and they went from a 40% accuracy rate on their math problems to 100% – after just a few minutes of drumming. They were amazed!

I then began working with new entrepreneurs and people in transition. What they were doing wasn’t working and they felt overwhelmed, stressed out, and stuck. Some were dealing with a recent change in circumstances and had major ADHD issues. Drumming helped with all of that as well. I’ve even seen clients gain instant clarity during their first session!

How it works

Drumming works much like occupational or music therapy. Certain repetitive movements can open up neural pathways, sync up the right and left hemispheres of the brain, reduce pain and stress, and boost coordination and connection. The sound waves also promote healing. This has to do with both frequencies and vibrations. Drum therapy also boosts the immune system. It has been used in hospitals with cancer patients, since it has been known to boost T-cell production.

The best part is, it’s fun! You don’t need to have any musical training; you just follow the beats or create your own, like these ladies I taught at a Christian conference for female entrepreneurs. What I do is not a drum lesson, a performance, or a drum circle – it’s drum therapy with a rock twist!

Moving onto the Next Stage

After an accident, I discovered how overwhelming and frustrating dealing with medical providers can be. Most really don’t listen or try to uncover the underlying symptoms causing the problem. This is the same scenario that played out with the hundreds of students I have worked with and kept off of stimulants.

Doctors often try to come up with a quick fix after a 10-minute office visit. No one wanted to address my concerns of side effects, downtime, etc. I wasn’t presented with many viable options, other than multiple surgeries, muscle relaxers, and pain killers. I refused all of that.

I decided I needed a Plan B. In two weeks, I was healed thanks to drumming and Divine Intervention. I drummed for 15 to 30 minutes a day, using a djembe and a Native American buffalo drum. Hand drums work best for healing, I have found. Any type of drumming can help with coordination, brain integration, ADHD issues, and stress relief. In fact, all the ADHD studies I have found used a drum set (aka drum kit) or drum sticks and drum pads, not hand drums. I prefer to use hand drums in private sessions and group classes and also in my 3-month ADHD coaching programs.

Therapeutic drumming became the last piece of the puzzle in my ground-breaking ADHD theory, known as The Gifted/ADHD Connection, which represented 20 years of personal research and case studies and delved into the underlying issues causing the symptoms. It was proven and presented at both gifted education and homeschooling conferences.

Drumming: It’s not just for hippies anymore! If you would like more info, click here.

Dori the Drum ChickDori Staehle, MBA lives in the Raleigh, NC area and is the owner of Next Stage Drumming. She’s a certified drum therapist with Drums and Disabililties, is on their Board of Advisors, and is also an ADHD coach. Her mission is to help kids and adults focus, feel better and find their joy! Dori often combines interactive drumming with coaching or speaking and can work virtually. She also has a virtual drum therapy training program for mental health professionals and non-profits. Dori’s motivational book, Find Your Divine Rhythm: A Creatives’ Success Formula, is a business blueprint for creatives and also contains Dori’s bounce back story and ADHD research. Dori is a professional percussionist, a Toca Percussion artist, and has hand drums for sale on her website.

*Post updated in July of 2020.