Aligning your voice to your gender expression is kind of like going to the gym: you have to practice consistently to see results. Similar to how you care for your muscles, warm up before a work out and cool down after, you must also care for your voice to keep the instrument healthy. Good vocal hygiene sets a safe foundation for your vocal transformation.
Practicing good vocal hygiene during your vocal transition helps to keep your vocal mechanism healthy. It can prevent vocal injury from occurring due to misuse and abuse. And the healthier your voice is the better you can access your authentic feminine voice.
Vocal wellness tips to keep your voice vibrant!
Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Hydration is systemic, meaning when you drink water it has to be absorbed and processed by your body, before it reaches the vocal folds. Water doesn’t pass over your vocal folds when you’re drinking. If it did… you would choke! And keep in mind when we say stay hydrated we don’t mean with coffee, tea, juice, soda, and wine. You should consume at least 64 oz of pure water a day.
Water keeps your vocal folds hydrated and prevents excessive mucus buildup which can lead to coughing and throat clearing.
Use a humidifier.
Use a humidifier at home in the evening or when you go to sleep to keep the air you breathe moist. This is especially important if you live in a dry climate area. Like this one here! Hey Dewy makes a great, personal sized humidifier that you can take with you anywhere. Originally created for skincare, I found it’s a great little humidifier for the voice!
Reduce mental stress.
You can reduce mental stress with deep breathing, essential oils, and other relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga. And added benefit of a mindfulness, meditation and yoga practice is the connection to the mind, body and spirit. This mindfulness brings increased awareness to the body, so you can learn to scan and adjust your breath, your voice and body language!
If you’re having an especially challenging time, consider seeking additional help through therapy and developing a better support system (i.e. community centers, therapy groups, friends/family).
Contacting your local LGBTQ+ center can provide you with all of the appropriate resources available to you in order to attain better mental state and alleviate some of your mental stress.
Avoid vocal abuse.
Vocal abuse and misuse includes yelling, screaming, excessive throat clearing, coughing… you get the idea. To avoid these behaviors means you must avoid places and triggers that would cause you to scream, yell, strain your voice or cause you reason to cough. Nightclubs, loud restaurants, sporting events, concerts, or any space that forces you to use your voice in an abusive manner should be avoided. Excessive vocal use leads to vocal fatigue, inflammation, swelling and an unpleasant voice!
Give your voice a break.
Any opportunity you have to rest your voice, take it! This includes long car rides, when you arrive home from work, etc. Quiet times are okay and you don’t need to fill the silence with your voice. Give your voice a rest! Engage in activities that do not involve talking: reading, meditation, yoga, breath-work, taking a walk, taking a nap, watching television, responding to emails, texting, etc.
Do not whisper.
This may come as a surprise to some. It seems logical that in order to protect your voice, you may have felt the urge to whisper. But many otolaryngologists and speech language pathologists advise against this, warning that whispering actually causes more trauma to the larynx than normal speech. According to a study conducted by Dr. Robert T. Sataloff, Chairman of the Otolaryngology Department at Drexel University College of Medicine, out of 100 subjects, 69 of them put more strain on the vocal folds when asked to whisper. It was reported that they were squeezing their vocal folds together more tightly to produce the whisper, which is more traumatic.
For people concerned about their voices, Dr. Sataloff recommends that they avoid whispering and simply talk softly — in “the voice you would use if you wanted to talk to somebody next to you without having other people in the room hear.” If you would like to read more about this study, attached is the link to article:
Avoid throat drops.
Especially those that contain mint/menthol/eucalyptus! Although they seem to provide temporary relief at first they can be very dehydrating and drying to the throat.
Avoid smoking of any kind as this will dry the vocal folds and cause tensions. If you smoke cigarettes, now is a good time to quit. Smoke is an irritant and can lead to diseases of the oral cavity and pharyngeal cavity in the future.
If you smoke marijuana, consider quitting as well, or seek another option such as edibles to reduce the impact of harsh smoke on your vocal folds.
Eliminate dairy from your diet.
Dairy is known to increase mucus production in the body. This means your lungs and vocal folds will produce mucus and lead to excessive throat clearing and coughing, as well as possible inflammation in the body.
Reduce or eliminate dehydrating food and drinks.
This includes anything with caffeine and alcohol. I know what you’re thinking: these are my favorite things! No one can stop you if you want to indulge from time to time, but just make sure to rehydrate yourself with plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is after a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, follow up with two glasses of water. This will keep you hydrated, and probably keep the hangover away too!
Other things to keep the voice well!
Like we have said, your voice is a muscle and should be treated as such. Before doing any of the voice feminization work, it is important to warm up and cool down your vocal mechanism. In order to do this we recommend introducing vocal function exercises in to your practice; watch my video here.
Vocal function exercises consist of daily contracting and expanding exercises. These exercises also increase the overall range of the voice. You must make sure you’re doing vocal function exercises correctly, to avoid damage to your vocal folds. We recommend that clients perform these exercises twice a day, first thing in the morning and before they go to bed, or before practicing any vocal feminization therapy exercises.
If you have any questions, concerns or would like a free consultation please reach out! We love talking about all things voice related.