Implementing Vocal Hygiene Strategies
- Hydration – be sure to drink plenty of water and fluids throughout the day. Room temperature water is best. This provides lubrication and protection to the vocal folds. Many soft drinks and hot beverages, such as coffee and teas, have caffeine in them. This speeds up the dehydration process. Up to 2 litres of water a day is recommended. There are many helpful hydration tracker Apps which you can download onto your mobile phone.
- Breathing – our breath powers our voice. It is important to make sure you have enough air support for everything you need to say. Try not to speak until the end of your breath. Renew your breath by pausing throughout speaking if necessary.
- Posture – a slouched posture may lead to poor breath support, which can result in a weak, ineffective, hoarse voice. If you are standing or sitting, have your shoulders back and down, your neck relaxed, your face muscles relaxed, and your hands gently falling/resting by your side.
- Diaphragmatic breathing (i.e. belly breathing) – use this method of breathing both before and after a conversation to maximise breath support. To do this, place yourself in a relaxed posture, as stated above, and breathe in through your nose. Place your hands on your belly as you breathe in and feel the air fill deep down into your lungs. Breathe out through your mouth using pursed lips, like you are blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Use your hands on your belly to feel the air from your lungs empty out. Repeat for 5 breaths.
- Nose breathing – avoid breathing in through your mouth, especially in cold weather. Breathing through your nose cleans, warms and moistens the air before it reaches your vocal folds and lungs.
- Avoid singing or speaking in a pitch/at a volume which puts strain on your voice. Avoid yelling and screaming. Avoid talking loudly in noisy environments.
- Do not whisper – whispering has a drying effect on the vocal folds and can cause strain.
- Rest and staying healthy – get enough rest and maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
- Do not smoke and avoid excessive alcohol consumption – these leads to drying of the vocal folds and exposure to harmful substances.
- Seek support from medical professionals, such as a Psychologist, on ways to manage psychosocial issues such as anxiety which may lead to vocal trauma.
- Seek support from a Speech Pathologist on ways to further implement strategies into day-to-day routines to maintain health vocal habits.