5 useful tips for a healthy voice
Vocal hygiene means ensuring you have a healthy voice. Your voice is your most valuable instrument because you use it every day. This is why it’s so important to take good care of it.
The goal of voice feminization training in trans women is not only to obtain a higher pitch, but also to learn about the right resonance, female intonation, appropriate non-verbal communication as a woman, as well as how use your voice in a relaxed way without straining it.
So voice therapy can be quite demanding on your voice. These tips can help to keep your voice in optimal condition and prevent voice complaints.
1 – No smoking
The harmful substances you inhale when you smoke actively irritate the vocal folds. Because of this, the mucous membrane of the vocal folds will swell and can get inflamed. This, in turn, will cause coughing and scraping of the throat. The result being that your voice will sound lower.
- Stop smoking
- Use Nicotinell (patches / chewing gum / tablets)
- Steam inhalation
2 – No alcohol and caffeine
These two substances have a dehydrating effect on the vocal folds. This makes the mucous membrane layer more vulnerable.
- Reduce the use of alcohol and caffeine (coffee, tea, some soft drinks). You should drink two glasses of water per cup of coffee or glass of wine.
- Try to drink as much water as possible.
- Moisturise folds as much as possible by means of steam inhalation.
3 – Avoid acid reflux
Reflux sometimes causes a bitter, acidic taste in the mouth (but not in everyone). When this happens frequently, an inflammation of the vocal folds can occur. This may go hand in hand with throat complaints (hoarseness, coughing, …), even when you don’t experience the acidic taste.
Stress and unhealthy eating and living habits contribute to the development of reflux.
- Avoid food that stimulates stomach acid: red meat, fat, pungent herbs, fried food, chocolate, cheese, eggs, peppermint and tomato sauce.
- Smoke as little as possible. After each cigarette there is some reflux.
- Do not lie down immediately after eating.
- Make sure your head is higher than the rest of your body while sleeping.
4 – Avoid and tackle anxiety and stress
When we feel stressed or anxious, our nervous system alerts a number of physical responses. This prepares our body to respond to danger. Our breathing gets faster, our heartbeat accelerates and the larynx (voice box) tends to take a higher position in our throats. This usually causes our vocal folds to close too tightly.
As a result of this physical reaction, the voice will sound more pinched and raised and you can pronounce fewer words per breath.
- Search for the causes of your anxiety and stress and try to tackle these causes.
- Don’t let your life be lived by others and stand up for yourself.
- Find ways to effectively manage your stress
- Ensure a sufficient and good night’s sleep
5 – Avoid coughing and/or throat scrapes
Do you have the habit of scraping your throat or coughing when you feel an itch or sense some phlegm in your throat?
When doing so, your vocal folds are pressed together really hard. These harsh collisions are harmful to the mucous membrane of your vocal folds. In addition, the itch will quickly return.
- Do not eat or drink milk products, they cause mucous formation on the vocal cords.
- Have a sip of water instead of coughing or scraping
- Dry swallowing moves the mucous
- Steam inhalation humidifies your voice folds
- Hum softly
- Talk through the phlegm. The natural vibration of your vocal folds will move the mucous secretions.