When your income totally depends on your voice staying healthy and sounding good, some voice over actor health tips are useful to keep in mind. I try to practice these as much as possible and I rarely have vocal health issues, so something must be working.
My Top 10 Voice Over Actor Health Tips
1. Drink plenty of good quality water
Drinking quality water is perhaps the most important – and easiest – thing we can do to maintain good vocal health. When we stay hydrated, our bodies produce a thin, beneficial mucus that keeps our vocal cords properly lubricated.
2. Don’t smoke (unless a raspy voice is your niche – and even then, I would never recommend smoking)
Smoke is a huge irritant for the airways and vocal cords, and even secondhand smoke can have an impact. Ongoing smoking can gradually decrease the pitch of the voice by changing the structure of the vocal fold, a change that is typically permanent.
3. Avoid alcohol (except maybe a little bit on the weekends, but never during a workday)
Alcohol decreases our hydration levels, drying out our larynx and vocal folds. It’s also known for irritating the membranes in our throats. Even mouthwash with alcohol can have an effect. If you do drink a bit on the weekends, make sure you match each alcoholic drink with an equal amount of water.
4. Humidify your home and office
A humidifier can help keep us hydrated, especially during the winter when indoor heating systems dry out the air. Try to keep your indoor humidity levels at around 30% for optimum comfort.
5. Take vocal breaks when you feel the need
If your voice starts to feel tired or strained, it may be a good time for a break. While you’re taking that break, try not to talk or even whisper. Regularly resting your vocal cords can prevent against overuse.
6. Don’t clear your throat very often
Consistently clearing your throat is a surefire way to irritate the vocal cords. It can even lead to chronic inflammation. If your throat needs clearing, it’s better to take a few sips of water or try a very gentle cough to clear the vocal folds.
7. Avoid yelling (can be especially challenging if you have children or are a sports fanatic)
Yelling and screaming stresses your voice and can damage your vocal cords, as can the other extreme of whispering or speaking too softly. Even though vocal cords damaged from overuse can usually repair themselves, they requires vocal rest in the meantime.
8. Consciously relax your throat and neck muscles (a five-minute mini meditation session can do wonders)
Keeping your throat and neck muscles relaxed can help prevent strain of your vocal muscles. Regularly check for and release any tension or stress in the neck and throat area. In addition to a mini meditation session, you can gently roll your head from side to side, starting with your chin on your chest. Yawning also relaxes the throat and vocal areas.
9. Use a natural ingredient throat spray (my favorite is Seagate Olive Leaf )
Whether you feel a sore throat approaching or just want to keep your voice in tip-top shape, a throat spray can help. Make sure you steer clear of any that contain alcohol or other irritants. Instead, choose one that has natural ingredients known for their healing properties, such as the olive leaf contained in my favorite pick.
10. When sick, take it easy and get well before trying to get back to work.
Instead of trying to push through an illness, give yourself, and your vocal cords, a break. Voice rest is particularly essential if you’re coughing or suffering from upper respiratory tract issues. Minimizing your speaking, staying hydrated and avoiding vocal irritants can all contribute to a speedier recovery.
Other general health practices I like to do:
Keep my neck warm in cold weather with a scarf or muffler. Sometimes, I’ll even tie a sock around my neck to sleep, if I feel a sore throat coming on.
Avoid late night hours on a work night. Getting plenty of rest is essential to good vocal health.
Eat healthy foods – plenty of fresh fruits and veggies (preferably organic) to keep healthy nutrients supplying my body with what it needs to stay healthy.
And if I do feel my body dragging, or the signs of a cold or sickness coming on, I keep my mental state positive. I don’t surrender to being sick. On the contrary, I will tell myself that I’m fine, and minister to symptoms without pulling my focus there. I prefer to tell my body that I’m fine, and it usually listens!
Debbie Grattan has been interested in voice over actor health tips for over twenty years. She’s been working on stage, screen and behind the microphone for her entire adult life. Check out her voice over actor bio and request a voice over quote for an upcoming project.