Your voice is one of your most important communication tools, but like any other part of the body, it requires regular care. It can get injured from overuse or damage from conditions such as allergies, acid reflux and smoking.
1. Physiological factors (your breathing, posture and the environment you work in)
Your vocal cords sit at the top of your windpipe and vibrate with each breath. You want them to be soft, smooth, flexible and free from inflammation. If your cords are irritated or inflamed, they can’t close efficiently and you may sing with a scratchy, rough sound or produce a hoarse or whistling sound.
2. Physical factors (your diet and exercise)
You can help your vocal cords stay healthy by avoiding overuse, staying hydrated, taking breaks when you need them and warming up before singing or speaking. It also helps to avoid smoking and secondhand smoke as it can irritate the vocal folds and cause dryness which can lead to voice fatigue and even damage to the larynx.
3. Mental factors (your attitude)
The way you use your voice can affect the health of your vocal cords, so practice good habits and take the time to make them a priority! When you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try not to overuse your voice or sing or speak too loudly. Instead, use the more natural dynamic range that you have.
4. Breathing techniques
The best way to protect your voice is to learn proper breathing techniques. This includes breathing through the nose, which is designed to provide humid and warm air to your throat and lungs while reducing allergens and other pollutants. It also allows your throat to relax and stretches your pharynx, allowing for better breathing when you sing.
5. Exercise and vocal training
Developing a singing or speaking voice that is naturally dynamic is an excellent way to reduce strain on your voice. It also keeps your voice strong and healthy as it improves tone, projection and endurance.
6. Rest and sleep
Having a good night’s sleep is essential for a vocally healthy person. It promotes a healthy immune system and makes your voice more resilient to overuse or injury.
7. Maintaining a healthy diet
A balanced diet is the best way to keep your vocal cords in top shape. It’s important to include a variety of nutrients that are good for your vocal cords, including protein, fats and carbohydrates. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and not to overdo it on caffeinated drinks.
8. Getting enough rest to avoid voice fatigue
Your voice needs a break when you’re sick, especially if you have the flu or other upper respiratory infections. This gives your vocal folds time to recover from the strain and help them repair themselves.
9. Avoiding overuse
Singing and speaking are both a major source of stress on your voice. It’s essential to monitor your use and take breaks when necessary, whether it be for a short period between lectures or long periods of vocal usage at work.