We winterize our cars, our homes, our wardrobes, and even our kitchen pantries.
But do you know how to winterize your voice?
Why does it matter what season it is?
The simple answer is that winter tends to be cold and dry, at least in the Northern hemisphere, and our vocal cords prefer more moisture to function optimally.
How does winter affect my voice?
It starts with the humidity in the air. If the air we breathe is dry, the vocal cords don’t get the same moisture bath that they get when we breathe humidified air.
This dry air can cause the outer layer of the vocal cords to dry out a bit. Drier vocal cords are more prone to stiffness, swelling, and injury. In short, they might not work as effortlessly as they do when they aren’t dried out.
How do I know if winter is kicking my voice’s butt?
If your voice is too dry (meaning drier than they prefer to function optimally), you might notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- dry cough
- scratchiness or a tickle in the throat
- a feeling of effort/strain/fatigue in your throat when you speak or sing
- roughness or raspiness
- a loss of pitch range in speech or singing
- delayed onset
- a frog in your throat
- decreased vocal power and stamina
Okay, I’m sold. So how do I winterize my voice?
The first goal is to keep your throat hydrated. For more detailed info about hydration and the voice, see my blog post Why you need to keep your voice moist (That’s right, I said “moist”!)
In addition to drinking plenty of water and inhaling humidified air using a steamer or nebulizer, there are some other simple things you can do to keep the dry air from impacting your voice.
Drinking hot tea and taking steamy showers are easy and often enjoyable ways to get more moisture into your throat.
Even the way you breathe matters. The function of the nose is to warm, filter, and humidify the air as it enters the body. Breathing through your nose instead of mouth can keep a little dryness at bay.
Humidified air in your living, working, and sleeping space is important. Keeping a humidifier near the bed, and possibly in other locations depending on how dry your space is, helps keep the air in a more comfortable humidity zone.
Finally, we are prone to colds and illness in the winter, so doing all you can to generally stay healthy is extra important. Anything that boosts your immune system (like adequate sleep, good nutrition, exercise, minimizing stress) ultimately helps your whole being, including your voice. This article from Harvard Health has more specifics on this topic.
For more information about winterizing your voice, or to learn how to use your voice optimally in any context, reach out for a coaching session!