The holidays are right around the corner, and if you’re a singer that means you’ll not only be performing a lot, but you’ll probably be talking a lot more at parties. However, that much use could put a strain on your voice. What can you do to protect your voice and keep it healthy not just during the holidays, but into the new year, too?
Changing your behavior, saving your voice
Fortunately, there are a number of easy ways to keep your voice healthy, and they’re all behavioral. That means, instead of taking medicine, you just need to make a few practical lifestyle changes. They include:
- Pacing your voice: Find ways to not use your voice when it’s not necessary. This will prevent you from straining it.
- Hydrating: Not only should you drink water to keep your vocal folds lubricated, but you should avoid caffeine, alcohol, and other things that will dehydrate you. It’s best to drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water a day and supplement it with steam treatments.
- Getting enough sleep: Sleeping helps rest your voice and repair overworked muscles. If also helps keep your immune system working at peak effectiveness.
- Eating healthily: Eating too much rich food can cause acid reflux, which can inflame the vocal folds and thicken mucus. You’ll want to strictly adhere to a good diet and other reflux precautions.
- Warming up and cooling down: Your vocal system is muscular and, like with any other physical activity, your muscles need warming up and cooling down before and after intense action. Use gentle hums on simple downward scales and glides to cool down, help calm your vocal muscles, return your voice to the less intense demands of normal speaking, and prepare muscles to rest.
- Keeping your hands clean: Keeping your hands clean will help prevent the spread of germs and can keep you from getting sick.
- Not singing if you’re sick: When you’re sick your vocal folds are likely inflamed. You may even have laryngitis. Singing while sick can put unnecessary strain on your vocal cords and may cause a more serious injury.
- Saying no when necessary: We can’t say yes to everything. Turning down parties or singing opportunities can prevent vocal strain or overuse. Only say “yes” to opportunities that are really important to you.
Sing out, 2018
With the new year right around the corner, too, you’re probably planning your resolutions. Why not get a jump on them and resolve to keep your voice healthy in the new year? You can start now with a few easy choices. In addition to the points mentioned above you can also resolve to:
- Focus on your breathing: Breathing powers the voice, and good breathing patterns are beneficial for both speaking and singing voices.
- Get voice training: Even for seasoned singers, having another set of ears and eyes listening to and watching your voice production can be invaluable for making sure you are using healthy voice production technique specific to the genre of music you primarily sing.
- Manage medical issues that can affect the voice: Care for any acid reflux issues, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year. Have allergies and asthma treated. If any medicine you take dries you out, make sure to drink extra water.
- Eliminate vocal trauma: Try to avoid yelling or screaming, talking loudly over background noise, and chronic throat clearing.
- Manage stress: Our emotional and vocal systems have some neurological connections, and stress can negatively impact the voice. It can also exacerbate acid reflux.
“By making smart choices about how you use, rest, and care for your voice you will absolutely be able to survive the holiday season with your voice intact and stay in good vocal health for the New Year, too,” CEENTA Voice & Swallowing Specialist Lori Ellen Sutton, MA, CCC-SLP, said.
The holidays should be a fun time, so following these steps can help keep your voice healthy not just through December, but into 2018, too.
To make an appointment with a CEENTA voice and swallowing specialist, call 704-295-3000.