Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Singing is a physical activity that requires a person to take care of their own health in order for the voice to stay strong for a long time. When you start to change your daily habits in a way that reduces stress and increases endorphins (which are "feel good" chemicals after exercising) you'll be able to enjoy your singing much more.
For anyone who wants to take care of themselves to improve their singing, here are some tips on how to stay healthy.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will hydrate your muscles. When you are using your voice, the mucus lining around your vocal cords will get dry because a lot of air has been passing through to make sound. Moisturize your muscles by drinking plenty of water, about 8 glasses a day would be ideal. However, every person has a different body so make sure you know your limit.
If you need help keeping track of how much water you need, make a checklist or chart where you can write down how many glasses you've had and it can help you remember. If you see that you are not drinking enough, then it's time to go fill up that glass. Sometimes we are so busy that we forget!
Another way to hydrate yourself, especially if you live in dryer areas, is to have a humidifier or purchase a steam inhaler. If you use a steam inhaler, the warm water droplets will seep into the muscles faster and will directly hydrate better. That's why it feels so good to sing in the showers. If you are going to buy a steam inhaler, the product will come with its own purified water packets to use, making sure that the water you breathe is clean. You can also heat up some water, put it in a bowl, tilt your head over the bowl, and cover your head with a towel to keep the steam vapors in so that you can inhale it.
There are so many ways to keep your environment moist. This is something you will have to be regular with. You cannot just try it for one day and hope your voice gets better. It is a daily necessity, and it is better for your health! The steam inhaler is great for nasal congestion and helps with respiratory functions. The way I keep my environment humidified is by having my red-footed tortoise live indoors with me. He requires his terrarium to be 60-80% humidity. That's why it feels great singing near him, and students can also feel the effect of that much humidity. That's just another idea I wanted to share if you are curious about other ways you can keep your area humid.
Just remember to stay hydrated daily!
Keeping your voice in shape requires you to also stay in shape. You don't have to do a marathon but try to do at least 30 minutes of cardio every other day, or every day if you can. The reason why it is important is that it strengthens your heart and improves your circulation. The blood flow that results from exercise raises your oxygen levels in the body. This will allow your muscles to operate to their potential, and when you are singing, you are using muscles! Not only is it good for muscle function, but it will also lower your blood pressure, which will lower your stress level. We will talk about that later and relate it to health for singers.
Some cardio you can do without needing a gym is jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, lunges, squat jumps, jogging in place, kicks, and more. The more exercise you incorporate into your daily life, the better your throat muscles will be because the rest of your body's muscles are also in good shape. They are all connected.
This is very important for singers or for anyone who is participating in a physical activity that requires muscle use. When you go to sleep, you are allowing your body to recuperate and heal. Your muscles need time to recover. If you wake up the next day with not enough sleep, your body will feel tired, and you can't work properly. When you feel tired, you will push your body to put in more effort. When you push too much, you start tensing up. When you tense up you start to constrict your muscles and then it just makes everything worse.
Have you ever had that feeling where it just feels stuck and then you get frustrated?
That's why we need sleep. Our muscles are grumpy. Sleeping will not only heal your muscles, but it will rejuvenate your brain, which is needed for optimum performance. If your mind is not well, it will greatly affect how you sing. Since singing involves a strong mindset, we can't have your brain lose its power. Rest your voice, go to bed at an appropriate time, and get up with enough hours of sleep.
4. WARMING UP AND COOLING DOWN
By making singing part of your life, you need to warm up properly and cool down properly. Many singers know that they have to warm up before they do a full practice of their song material or if they are getting ready to go on stage for a performance. However, many singers don't actually do it. They think they don't need it. Then, a few days later a sore throat pops up, or straining of the throat occurs. Singers need to warm up and know what types of vocal exercises to do. There are exercises for stretching the folds, which are great for when you need to sing higher or belt higher. Some exercises are for establishing cord closure so that the folds are coming together properly when air is passing through so that you don't sound so breathy. If you don't know how to warm up, then you are putting your throat muscles at risk no matter what level of singing you are at.
Now let's talk about cooling down. Just like in dance and sports, singers need to cool down their voice by doing other vocal exercises to destress the muscles and bring it back to stasis. After doing a show or talking too much, your vocal cords are tired and with that much air coming out through the folds, it can really damage the lining if you don't take care of it. Anytime you finish singing for the day or you are completely done with a show for the night, go home and start a cool down routine. Massage your neck and shoulders to release any tension surrounding the neck area. Do some tongue exercises. Pull it out and relax the back of the tongue to relieve tightness. Afterward, gargle with salt water to get rid of bacteria which will help maintain clean oral hygiene.
A lot goes into singing. There's an entire routine you can create for yourself to make sure you are in good shape to sing to your fullest potential without injury or fatigue. If you cannot create one yourself, that is something I provide for voice students to make sure they develop a practice routine to keep them accountable. It's a vocal practice packet that includes stretches, exercises, practice schedules, and a practice log that reminds the singer to stay on top of their singing habits. It's the worst feeling when you know you can do something, but it's not happening the way you want it to because you neglected to take steps to prevent fatigue and injury. That's why if you take care of your health in every way possible, your voice with thank you.
5. REDUCE STRESS LEVEL
Lastly, let's talk about stress. We think we can push it away and then your singing becomes better instantly. However, our mind is very connected to our muscles. If you are not mentally stable and the stresses in your life are too overwhelming, it does affect the throat muscles. How does it affect the throat muscles? Check your shoulders and neck. Are they tense when you are stressed? Check your jaw. Is that also tight when you are stressed? Some people clench their jaw so hard without realizing they are doing it, but it's because they are stressed. In a world where everyone feels the need to stay busy or updated on new trends, or they feel left behind, many are experiencing stress in more ways than one. It is detrimental to a person's health if the stress goes unchecked. Singers whose lives are not all together, have a harder time feeling freedom in their singing.
What can you do to reduce stress?
Take away that one thing causing you the stress. Is it work? It's time to look for a new career. Or create your own business and do things your way without a boss that doesn't care about you. Is it the finances? Let's find a better way to get income without having to sacrifice your free time or your time away from family. Is it the social pressure of needing to be someone already? Take away that Instagram or Tik Tok if it causes you to compare yourself to others. If that is causing you stress and mental instability, those things need to go. You will find a way to make ends meet. You will find a way to occupy your time instead of going on social media so much.
To be a healthy singer, not only do you need to have a healthy body, but your mind needs to be in good shape too. If you want to sing with no tension or worries, you have to let go of the things that stress you. It's difficult to improve on a skill when it keeps getting stuck by negative thoughts and energy. To get better at singing and to sustain your voice, practice positive thinking and walk away from any drama that is not needed in your life. We don't have time for that. Get your life together and let's make sure your voice becomes strong and stay strong.
If you want my Guide to Voice Care, you may download it for FREE. It talks about ways to take care of the voice and I share with you some steam inhaler options you can buy and what types of tea you can drink if you don't feel well. At the end of the guide, I created a Daily Water Intake chart where you can print out and mark how many glasses you drank each day so that you stay accountable.
Want to become a private voice student? I welcome new students who are serious about their training and want to create a good lifestyle to sustain their voice and performing careers. I'd love to meet with you and hear what your story is about!
Hope you decide to stay healthy and take care of your voice. Until next time!