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Updated: Aug 17





If you’re required to talk to people as part of your job, you’ve probably learned the hard way how frustrating and exhausting it can be to have to power through vocal fatigue. And usually the result is not ideal: you push your way through the meeting or conversation only to end up drained and hoarse from straining to be heard and understood.



If you do this on the regular and push yourself beyond your vocal limits, you may be caught in a burnout cycle that could lead to some disrupting voice complications or even vocal injury– an incredibly under-acknowledged problem in professions where your voice is an expected method of conducting business. A series of studies conducted in 2014 estimated that 82% of people in occupations considered to be “professional voice users” such as teachers, salespeople, and physicians, have experienced some kind of voice problem during their career. Furthermore, it found that those who experienced a prolonged voice problem were often forced to seek alternative employment when their symptoms did not improve. The study also noted that almost none of the participants had received any kind of voice education or voice care instruction as part of their job training or studies.


***A necessary disclaimer: the advice I share in this article and in general regarding how to care for your voice and when to rest your voice should be reviewed by your primary care doctor, your otolaryngologist, or other voice specialist. If you currently have a vocal injury or have been experiencing symptoms or changes that last more than a couple of weeks, you should consult with a medical professional, preferably an ENT who specializes in voice.


Even if your voice currently feels great, knowing how and when to rest your voice is a care practice that will support the sustainability and longevity of your voice throughout your career, especially if you have a job that depends on the reliability and clarity of your vocal output.


Here is the catch: there is no established standard for when and how to rest your voice, and even amongst trained voice rehabilitation specialists there is no consensus on a protocol for vocal rest based on biological evidence. However, there are some studies (which all conclude there need to be more studies) on the efficacy of voice rest and there is also a wealth of anecdotal evidence around voice rest and healing from those who have been through a vocal issue or supported others through it. I’ve also had my own experience with voice injury and know firsthand that resting my voice strategically was pivotal to it feeling better, clearer, and easier to speak and vocalize.




Here are my favorite tips on voice rest I’ve collected to guide your vocal downtime practices so you support your voice at your job and beyond:



Go for voice conservation over complete vocal rest.


I remember in college, an actor friend of mine developed voice nodules, which are essentially callous-like growths on the vocal cords, and went on complete vocal rest for 3 entire weeks. During this time, she was 100% vocally silent, carrying a dry erase board and miming her way through every interaction. While this version of vocal rest is on the extreme end of the spectrum, it is a fairly common prescription for vocal lesions and injuries, especially when the voice is being used as a professional performance instrument.


However, if you’re not in the middle of a major vocal trauma or needing to get back to singing skyscraping arias, chances are you don’t need to go to these extreme lengths. In fact, a 1989 study conducted by Koufman and Blalock concluded that even for post-operative voice recovery, voice conservation, which was usually a combination of reducing vocal output and completing a course of voice rehabilitation exercises, may be as effective as absolute vocal rest. There is even some evidence to suggest that absolute vocal rest may slow a return to normal vocal function.


Your way of resting your voice doesn’t have to be extreme. In fact, the better it fits into your life, the more likely you are to follow through with it. Although I love a good excuse to become a hermit and indulge in my introverted tendencies, not talking at all is downright impractical for most of us. The good news is you don’t have to do it that way!




Be strategic about when you rest your voice.


As you pay attention and track your voice cues and symptoms using this free Voice Tracker PDF (or another system of your own), you’ll start to get an idea of what activities you do that require the most vocal output and stamina.


Then you can begin to take this into account as you think about your weekly and daily schedule.


Start to give yourself designated time for “vocal naps” in-between meetings and activities that require the most of your voice. I recommend a minimum of ten minutes of completely silent, no whispering, not a peep vocal rest for every hour you’re speaking.

There are also some instances when it is important to prioritize resting your voice. For example, rest your voice as soon as possible when you're experiencing pain, hoarseness, a sandpapery feeling, or discomfort when you speak. Rest your voice as much as possible when you are sick. And if it feels like you have to strain to make sound--you've got it now--rest your voice.


Most importantly, go easy on yourself when you forgo resting your voice and decide going to the party, or meeting, or taking that phone call from a dear friend is worth the vocal cost.







Get curious about voice mechanics.


Learning how the voice works can clarify why we experience certain symptoms like pressure, pain, scratchiness, hoarseness, or losing parts of your voice completely.


Your vocal cords are made of supple, soft tissue and they vibrate against each other hundreds of times per second to create the sound of your voice. Studies show that even after fifteen minutes of normal conversation there are signs of wear and tear on the vocal cord tissue. However, it has also been shown that resting your voice for short periods of time (or as we voice geeks say "taking a vocal nap") allows for tissue repair and resilience.


In the coming weeks as I continue this Voice Pro Care article series, we will go further into how the voice functions to uncover more of the factors that potentially come into play when we experience a change in the way our voice feels.




Get people on board with your efforts to conserve your voice.


Resting your voice takes some discipline, even when you’re not going to the extreme length of complete silence. Telling your friends, family, and co-workers about your voice rest efforts and what that’s going to look like–probably a lot of you awkwardly smiling, nodding, and making seemingly obscene gestures at them–can help them support you and remind you when you’re supposed to be vocally taking it easy.







Find a no-talking communication tool that works for you.


Whether it is texting, a dry erase board, or these cool gadgets called boogie boards, having a method of communicating for when your voice really needs the rest will make it easier to follow through with it.


Were these tips helpful? Let me know by dropping a line to info@heartsparkvoice.com








Interested in trying out voice coaching?

Schedule your first session here.

Not quite ready to dive in, but eager to find out more? Come to one of our monthly Q&A + Vocal Warm-ups. It's totally free and you can sign up here.


I created Heartspark Voice as a platform to provide voice education, resources, and learning opportunities for people in search of answers regarding their voice. I am continually adding new content and resources to my website and instruction, and also take requests if there is a particular voice-related topic you’re curious about.


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Updated: Aug 18




If you're looking to support your vocal goals and well-being, the first step I would recommend is to begin to pay close attention to how your voice feels and what activities and things make it feel better or worse. While there may be more technologically advanced systems that exist out there, I've made you a Voice Tracker PDF to help get you started on logging your daily voice symptoms and habits.


In the next post, I'll explain how and when to rest your voice and how the Voice Tracker can help guide you if you're voice is under the weather.


Have a question? Sign up for the monthly Q&A + Vocal Warm-up and learn more voice coaching and what voicework is all about.




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Updated: Aug 18




Something that is rarely addressed in the workplace, professional training, and the hiring process are the demands that a job can put on your voice. If you’re someone who depends on a consistent, special, or appealing voice quality as a necessary resource for the daily duties of your professional life, you may have experienced what coming up against your vocal limitations feels like firsthand--hoarseness, fatigue, difficulty making sound, that lump in your throat sensation, tight muscles--all of these can create major discomfort for you on the job and make you simultaneously less effective and more exhausted from having to push through.


A series of studies conducted in 2014 estimated that 82% of people in occupations considered to be “professional voice users” such as teachers, salespeople, and physicians, have experienced some kind of voice problem during their career. Furthermore, it found that those who experienced a prolonged voice problem were often forced to seek alternative employment when their symptoms did not improve. The study also noted that almost none of the participants had received any kind of voice education or voice care instruction as part of their job training or studies.



(This is why I do what I do! Voice education and on-the-job voice training should be industry standards in fields that rely on people’s voices as the primary mode of conducting business. Why have we not caught onto this yet?!?)




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This is the first installment of my Voice Pro Care blog series, where I’ll be covering ten different ways to start caring for your voice, and what to do if you’re experiencing a voice issue that just isn’t going away. So what are some things that you can do to support your voice’s sustainability and well-being and ensure you can continue to show up feeling ready to meet your job’s vocal demands?


***Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and strongly advise seeking out professional medical help if you are experiencing voice problems or other new symptoms that last longer than 2 weeks. While voice resources like this one can support your healing, it is important to get a proper assessment and diagnosis as changes in the voice can be related to other underlying health issues.





Strategy#1: Track your voice cues and symptoms


The first step in caring for your voice is to notice when it feels good and when it doesn’t. What cues does your voice send when it is fatigued? What helps your voice feel better? Does your voice take a long time to get going in the morning? Is your voice hoarse or scratchy at the end of the day? How much water are you drinking? How does lack of sleep affect your voice? Start to make a habit of checking in with how your voice feels and keep a log of any symptoms and connections you notice.




Strategy #2: Know when and how to rest your voice


Your vocal cords are made of supple, soft tissue and they vibrate against each other hundreds of times per second to create the sound of your voice. Studies show that even after fifteen minutes of normal conversation there are signs of wear and tear on the vocal cord tissue. However, it has also been shown that resting your voice for short periods of time (or as we voice geeks say "taking a vocal nap") allows for tissue repair and resilience.


Scheduling time in your day-to-day work routine to rest your voice completely and advocating for this vocal downtime especially when you are experiencing a vocal issue may be the single most important step you can take for the longevity of your voice and career.





Strategy #3 : Learn how the voice works and what affects it


There are a lot of moving parts that go into making your voice sound the way it does. In this future post, we are going to pop open the engine hood, take a peak around and really get to know the different components and systems that make our voice go. Spending some time learning vocal anatomy, mechanics and function can illuminate what affects the way you speak and what areas may be helpful to focus on to support the healthy function of your voice.




Strategy #5: Befriend your nervous system


Our voice functions best when we are feeling good as we speak, and us feeling good has a lot to do with our autonomic nervous system, which is the part of our nervous system that functions well below the level of our awareness.


If you experience chronic stress or frantic energy when you speak or on the contrary feelings of being numb, shut down, or frozen (both of which are very common experiences, you're not alone, my friend!), you may benefit from learning more about how the nervous system influences our physiology, behavior, voice, thoughts, and ability to listen and connect.


This piece of the puzzle was a key component in healing my own voice when I was diagnosed with nodules in 2017, and I am enthusiastic about its potential to help others who may struggle on this front.




Strategy #5: How is your gut doing?


Your vocal anatomy is part of our digestive tract, so there’s no escaping the fact that acid reflux and other stomach issues will play out on the voice. For this week of the Voice Pro Care blog series, we will explore how the health of your gut affects the way your voice feels and functions.


***This topic is definitely one to explore with your health care provider if you are experiencing chronic acid reflux or other gastrointestinal issues.




Strategy #6: Pay attention to your spinal alignment


Have you ever heard of the Alexander Technique? It was developed by a Shakespearean actor from Australia, Frederick Matthias Alexander, who developed chronic laryngitis. Rest would only temporarily improve his vocal burnout, and everytime he performed his symptoms worsened. Then, through a process of self-observation, he realized he was tensing muscles in his neck and pulling his head slightly back and down when he spoke. With patience and persistence, he taught himself a method to avoid this compression while he performed and his symptoms greatly improved. He would go on to teach it to many others improving chronic pain symptoms, vocal quality, and breathing issues.


So what about you? Where is your spine when you speak? What muscles and parts of you engage and tense when you’re voicing?




Strategy #7: Check your airflow


The breath is the power and vehicle of the voice. Activities and exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles of the breath will greatly improve your voice quality and stamina over time.


There are many different ways to breathe, and there is a way of using the breath that supports the voice in efficiency, vibrancy, and clarity. Sometimes called diaphragmatic breathing, “breath support” is one of those topics you will google and get thousands of results, and many of them will contradict each other! It is an oft debated topic in the Land of Voice, so I will take a deep dive into some great resources and exercises on “breath support” and hopefully clear up some confusion you may have around how to breathe when you speak.




Strategy #8: Well-timed, consistent hydration


Your voice relies on hydration for a smooth and comfortable speaking experience. Staying well hydrated and making sure to drink plenty of nourishing fluids early and throughout the day will protect your voice from some of the daily wear and tear of speaking.




Strategy #9: Move more and often


Your voice is part of your body and benefits from how you take care of your whole person. Small bits of gentle movement sprinkled throughout your day can help reduce stress and support your overall wellbeing.


We will explore some mini practices like bilateral movement, gentle head and neck stretches, and moving the spine in different directions. Bonus points if you use this time to have a little vocal nap and talk to no one! (Where my vocal introverts at?)




Strategy #10: Learn and use a simple vocal warm-up


I know it is hard to imagine fitting anything else into your already packed day. But with a dose of that patience and persistence Mr. Alexander had, getting yourself into a vocal warm-up habit will be well worth it.


We will go over some valuable voice practices that are great to have in your toolbox to use before you speak, ones that will set your voice up for efficient and easy functioning for the whole workday. We will also go over practices that support voices through moments of fatigue, stress, and strain. Who knows, maybe a voice practice will give you incredible results too?








Interested in trying out voice coaching?

Schedule your first session here.


Not quite ready to dive in, but eager to find out more? Come to one of my monthly Q&A + Vocal Warm-ups. It's totally free and you can sign up here.



I created Heartspark Voice as a platform to provide voice education, resources, and learning opportunities for people in search of answers regarding their voice.


I am continually adding new content and resources to my website and instruction, and also take requests if there is a particular voice-related topic you’re curious about.

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