World Voice Day!
Just this week we celebrated National Sibling Day, National Pet Day and National Grilled Cheese Day. Did you post a picture with your awesome sibling, favorite furry friend or scrumptious childhood meal? I did! I LOVE all of these merriments and moments where we stop and appreciate all that we are. Now that this particular week in April has come to an end, we get to share another day of celebration – World Voice Day!
Being a voice enthusiast, you can probably guess that World Voice Day is one of my favorites throughout the year. Our voices should be admired! We use them to communicate all-day everyday and show an array of emotions. They are highly significant to our quality of life and the relationships we keep. So much so that as we celebrate World Voice Day, I find myself questioning why our society does not pay more attention to their voices on a daily basis.
We maintain our mind by meditating, doing yoga or reading. We sustain our soul by attending church, taking a dance class or calling a friend. We feed our body by planning healthy meals in advance, exercising and going to the doctor. Just as you workout your body to improve your physical health, our voices need attention too. Fans scream their heads off at football games and think little of their hoarse voice the following day. Some adolescents mumble and have a hard time communicating their thoughts to others, which their elders either correct or disregard them. Rather than seeking help, business professionals give presentations they dread even though public speaking is one of the top fears of human beings. Why do we put ourselves through all of this unrest when we could easily nourish our voices too?
We all have things we know to be true about our voices and the way we habitually use them. You may be someone who knows they have a hard time catching their breath when they speak. You may know that you are chronically dehydrated after long days at work and your voice becomes raspy by the end of the day or week. You may feel that you are not taken seriously because of the way you present yourself or speak to others. So let’s look at a few important things to take care of our voices regularly.
BREATH – Without our breath we can’t speak. Take some time each and every night to connect with your breath. As you lay in bed to go to sleep place your hand on your belly. Take some nice deeps breaths. Make sure your hand rises as you breathe in and lowers as you breathe out. The more comfortable our bodies become breathing this way lying down, they will be able to do so standing up too. This way when we communicate with others we will be able to feel more relaxed, clearly speak our thoughts and not feel like we need to catch our breath the whole time.
HYDRATION – Hydration affects our whole body and most certainly our delicate vocal folds (you may refer to these as vocal chords). When our vocal folds become dehydrated, they’re forced to work harder and can become damaged. If you are chronically dehydrated, the damage could become permanent. Signs of dehydration are simple: dry throat, scratchy throat, more effort than usual to speak, extreme thirst, dark yellow urine, the need to clear your throat often. The way to stay on top of your hydration is simple as well: drink water throughout the whole day. CLICK HERE to find a formula to help you figure out how much water you should drink daily based on your weight and activity level. The important thing to remember is you need to spread your water intake out over the course of the day and not wait until the end of the day to catch up.
EXERCISE – Did you know that it takes over 100 muscles working together for you to speak or sing a single phrase? Talk about some full-body engagement. Thirty minutes of daily cardiovascular exercise gets you in touch with your breath easily and increases your lung capacity greatly. When it comes to exercise, I’m not just going to focus on cardio, it is also important to exercise your voice. Your voice is like a muscle – it needs to be worked out. Think of it with the “use it or lose it” mentality. (Just like your buns of steel.)
POSTURE – Poor posture can have negative affects of which we are not even aware. It leads to tension in our body, tension that radiates to our vocal folds and increases strain. It’s amazing how easily tension can creep in without us knowing. Sitting most of the day with our shoulders rounded can drastically reduce our energy level. Start becoming mindful of your posture by being conscious of the habits you have as you go throughout your day. Gradually make adjustments to your posture. Sit tall and feel the air entering your lungs as you breathe in. CLICK HERE to watch this remarkable Ted Talk about body language by Amy Cuddy and begin to feel more confident as you go throughout your day.
SLEEP – Note: when your body is tired your voice is tired. Often, we have so much on our plate that requires a lot of energy throughout the day. If we don’t get enough sleep and are tired when we start the day, we definitely don’t have enough energy to support our voice all day long. Lack of sleep means you will inevitably experience vocal fatigue. Vocal fatigue can range from lack of clarity, to loss of range and even laryngitis. Get your recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night and be ready to rock each day.
The art of communication and singing together is a huge part of our culture and who we are. Although it’s sometimes hard to describe a person’s voice it is undeniable that we know whom a person is just by recognizing the unique qualities that make up his or her voice. Think how easy it is to recognize a family member when they call or your favorite singer’s voice on the radio. Or how easily we can paint a picture of a stranger in our minds just by listening to them over the phone. We use all of our senses to gather information about someone but we don’t always know fully who someone is until we hear his or her voice. It is great to celebrate World Voice Day and take an extra step towards being more mindful toward personal vocal care. Rejoice who you are and write something that you like about YOUR VOICE in the comments of this post.
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