Quick tips for managing your voice symptoms or keeping your voice healthy!
Whether you have a voice disorder or you have high speaking demands that are taxing your voice right now these general quick and to-the-point tips and techniques can help to lighten the load on your muscles, give you more control over your voice, and to compensate for any voice symptoms you may have.
Voice Technique Tip
Less effort is more when it comes to voicing!
Avoid straining your throat when speaking or projecting
Speak with more airflow and increased forward focus of the voice to lips and tongue (see webinar for details on flow phonation and resonant voice production)
Perform resonant hums frequently, feeling a strong buzz in your lips without throat tension or effort
Use a straw to get that same buzzy easy feeling or use the straw technique in some water!
Try voice techniques to “warm up” the voice and to “reset” your voice throughout the day. Do resonant hums or straw phonation in between calls, teaching sessions, or conversations!
Give yourself mini “breaks” between conversations and spread speaking duties out throughout the day if possible
Always work with a speech language pathologist who is a specialized voice therapist to do techniques correctly
Engage in relaxation techniques and exercises for destressing and calming not only the mind, but decreasing tension in the body
Practice voice techniques frequently and in conversation to make them more automatic
Keep in mind, the techniques described here are meant to help compensate for voice symptoms, not to cure a neurological disorder like spasmodic dysphonia or tremor. They can resolve muscle tension dysphonia when done correctly with a voice therapist
Using “Sensory Tricks” to your Benefit in Functional Ways
If using a higher pitch or singing temporarily relieves your symptoms use increased intonation or “sing-song” like voice to help compensate for symptoms (ensuring still a natural voice production pattern)
Avoid consistent use of high pitch or whispering which could lead to increased strain
Use efficient flow phonation (see webinar for demonstration) and crisp, clear articulation of sounds with the lips and tongue instead of whispering if whispering is helpful
For Virtual Communication or Phone Calls
Use speaker phone and headphones with an input microphone
One headphone in the ear can help modulate volume
Use clear articulation of sounds
Project with more buzz/forward focus of your sounds and NOT with effort in your throat
Vocal Hygiene Recommendations
Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Adequate hydration is crucial for proper vocal fold vibration. If you have coffee or alcohol increase your water intake. 60-80 oz per day is a general adequate estimate
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake. Caffeine and alcohol can be drying to the vocal folds
Avoid throat lozengers with menthol, which can dehydrate and irritate the vocal fold tissue. Instead, opt for ones with natural ingredients such as pectin or glycerin. Try Ludens or Halls Breezers if you need one
Avoid throat clearing and coughing which can be very traumatic for the vocal folds. These behaviors will not serve to make your voice clearer and will instead cause further irritation. Instead, try taking a sip of water with a “hard swallow” to clear any mucous or to soothe irritation that triggers the desire to cough or throat clear. If you need to get your voice “clearer” try a resonant hum
Avoid shouting, screaming or yelling, which could cause injury to the larynx. This includes shouting through a house, screaming at a sports event, yelling during a game, etc. Utilize non-verbal signals, cheer silently at games, utilize email communication more frequently
Avoid whispering, which can be straining to the vocal folds. If whispering is the only way you can get a voice, try resonant voice or flow phonation to achieve gentle easy voice without strain or severe tension
Reduce excessive upper body tension by engaging in upper body and neck stretches
Limit straining to talk over noise or in loud environments (i.e. restaurants, bars, when in a large group). Use healthy methods of increasing vocal loudness and/or consider using a voice amplification device/system for situations requiring projection of voice (i.e. teaching a class)
Avoid excessive time in drying environments or use a humidifier
Avoid inhalation of environmental irritants like smoke or dust
Reduce intake of foods that typically trigger reflux and follow reflux precautions through behavioral modifications and medical management as warranted and as recommended by your treatment team
Be easy with yourself! Dealing with a voice disorder or voice difficulties can be very challenging and frustrating. Celebrate the small wins, maintain perspective, and appreciate when or in what ways you still can communicate or express yourself (even if in different ways)
Be patient with these techniques. Benefit and gains are a process and can happen with frequent practice and through building awareness of your voice
Acknowledge that dealing with a voice disorder is hard! Recognize that your feelings about your voice disorder are valid no matter what those are!
Contact me to set up a free consultation or with any questions on ways to keep your voice functioning with more control and freedom!
#vocalhygiene #voicedisorder #spasmodicdyphonia #voicetherapy