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With winter upon us, your voice health can be challenged. Colds and flu threaten not only your singing, but your daily voice use, so it’s important to give your vocal cords extra care. Here are 6 ways to protect your voice, and your general health, in the colder months.  

 

DRINK MORE WATER

Even when you don’t have a cold or flu, staying hydrated is essential to good health and to maintain your voice. Aim for 8-10 glasses of room temperature water each day, to flush out toxins and lubricate mucous membranes. Coffee and black teas don’t count – they make you pass water – but warm (not hot!) herbal teas soothe your throat and voice, while being hydrating.

 

SLEEP 

For your voice to thrive, you need sleep and rest. Regular, uninterrupted sleep is essential to good general and vocal health. Sleep deprivation not only makes you irritable, it can impair your brain function and make your voice feel sluggish – you need mental and physical agility to sing well.  

 

Sleep also improves your immunity, helping you ward off infections. The number of ideal hours of sleep varies from day to day, person to person. How do you find your ideal amount? Listen to your body.

 

BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Sleep is just one way to help your immune system protect you against illness. Other ways are: 

  • reduce excessive responsibilities and stress
  • resolve conflicts
  • keep your muscles moving, especially your large muscles
  • eat a balanced diet
  • wash your hands – both front and back – so you don’t contract or spread any germs. 

 

LAUGH! 

Yes, laughter relieves stress, which in turn boosts immunity. It uses optimal breath flow to help your vocal cords create sound. So, find ways to make yourself laugh each day: pull funny faces in the mirror until you laugh out loud. Read funny stories, tell jokes, watch comedies, or spend time with children. Just LAUGH! 

 

 

REST YOUR VOICE

Even if you love to talk, have quiet days to let your voice heal. No whispering, talking or even mouthing words. Instead, write out what you want to say or use text or email – and enjoy the silence! 

 

WHEN A SORE THROAT HITS

Sometimes, despite looking after yourself, you’ll catch a bug and get a sore throat. But you can reduce the duration of the infection and its impact on your voice:

 

  • Gargling with salt water can ward off some infection.
  • Avoid nasal sprays. Most contain antihistamines which are not good for your larynx, so use them infrequently. For severe colds, use a spray to soak up excess mucous, and keep drinking water to balance out the dryness.
  • In fact, drink plenty of water when using any medication.
  • Be careful with cough drops as these often have anaesthetic, which for a singer can make the throat feel good when it’s not.
  • Do not sing with a sore, inflamed throat.
  • Air humidifiers help balance the moisture in the air, which helps hydrate your vocal cords. 

I hope these tips help you and your voice stay healthy this winter. You may also find the tips in my previous article on voice health dos and don’ts helpful. 

 

When you look after your voice, it will serve you better for longer. And with my professional singing training, you will learn the correct techniques of healthy, happy singing. Find out more.

 

Author: Kathleen Connell is a Sydney-based singing teacher and vocal coach who trains both aspiring and accomplished singers in technique and vocal skills. She is an active member of ANATS, a writer and PhD candidate at Griffith University.

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