Drumming May Help Reduce Work Stress

February 20, 2004 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Crash, bang, boom are just some of the onomatopoeias that may be the key to a reduced stress workload.

A study has found that participating in drumming sessions could help employees defend themselves from the stress and burnout that can cause them to leave their jobs. The study funded by Yahama, a company that coincidentally sells percussion equipment, concluded that incorporating aspects of drumming into the lives of employees could be a cost-effective means of helping workers and reducing turnover , according to a Reuters Health report.

But before rushing out en masse to purchase a high hat and snare and being waking your neighbors at all hours of the night, it should be noted that the drumming in question is done in the confines of a Kumbaya-esque “drumming circle.” In the circle, participants perform a series of percussion related exercises, including beating the drum to the rhythm of their own name, copying the rhythm of others’ names, representing their feelings via drumbeats and playing along to music. Participants could then discuss their stresses with the group if they so desired.

The study found immediately after the sessions were completed, people showed a 46% improvement in mood. Furthermore, six weeks after the sessions ended, the same people showed a more than 62% improvement in mood, finds the study said could suggest that emotional boost can continue long after the music has ended.

All study participants were employees at a nursing home, an industry with an unusually high turnover rate, in the neighborhood of 40% to 100% annually, mostly attributed to emotional factors. When staffers at one Pennsylvania facility participated in six drumming sessions with their coworkers, however, they experienced nearly a 50% improvement in mood, including a decrease in feelings of fatigue, anxiety and depression. Moreover, during the year following the drumming sessions, 49 fewer employees resigned than had the previous year, saving the facility nearly $400,000 in costs associated with training new hires.

The study goes on to say that long-term care is not the only industry that could benefit from the therapy. “We’re not just talking about long-term care,” said Dr. Barry Bittman with the Mind-Body Wellness Center in Meadville, Pennsylvania, the facility that conducted the test. “There’s no reason this wouldn’t work” in other contexts, as well, he noted.