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Feeling the burden of increased virtual and phone demands? Here is some Vocal Hygiene 101 to help!

Updated: Apr 21, 2020

How many of you are doing more phone calls and virtual meetings/visits than you even imagined possible right now? I hear you SLPs, teachers, workout instructors, those with voice disorders, and all of you working from home on those Zoom sessions and phones!

You may be realizing that all of this can lead to increased vocal fatigue, strain and hoarseness than our typical speaking demands. Speaking to project through these calls or virtual visits, trying to be heard over others in a large Zoom meetings and fighting poor acoustics can lead to worsened voice quality and feelings of your voice getting tired or fading out. Vocal fatigue and hoarseness after speaking for any amount is NOT normal!

Here are some quick tips for avoiding vocal symptoms and keeping your vocal folds (aka vocal cords) healthy and happy:

-Use headphones (if you have a pair or headset with a built in input mic even better!). Try the one headphone in trick to better modulate your volume and prevent you from shouting

-Take mini vocal breaks or rests between speaking durations (avoid speaking for hours at a time without breaks)- Yes those 3 hour long social zoom calls after your long work day count as adding to vocal load and are a high vocal dose!

-Do some hums between meetings (see my blog post on resonant hum “reset” techniques)

-When your voice is tired REST it! Even better is to start to anticipate when you’re starting to feel that fatigue creep in and pre-emptively “reset” your voice with resonant hums or take a rest. If your legs were tired you would rest them. Treat your vocal folds with the same care!

-Maintain adequate hydration (60-80 oz is a good estimate)

-Switch some speaking duties to emails or texting

-If you feel very tense in your shoulders and neck (HELLO looking at a computer screen with poor at-home setups + added stress levels!!) try to engage in relaxation techniques, upper body/neck stretches (see blog post for further details)

-Don’t shout over someone to be heard. Don’t shout period (no, not even to the kids, to the dog, or to your significant other). Wait until they are close enough to hear you

-Avoid throat clearing and coughing. It will NOT give you a clearer voice quality and you’re adding further irritation. If you feel the urge take a sip or water with a hard swallow

-Try to get adequate rest. Like anything else in your body you need proper rest

-Avoid significant consumption of alcohol and caffeine (although it may be tempting during these times). These are very drying to your vocal folds

-If you have increased time in a dry environment use a small personal cold air humidifier

If you're a teacher, SLP, individual with a voice disorder or anyone experiencing some vocal symptoms setup a free consultation to learn how to prevent symptoms and keep your voice functioning and healthy!

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