Looking after yourself

People are a business’s most important resource. Your voice is, arguably, your most important asset. If you don’t look after your voice, who will? It’s something only you can do. Whatever job you do (whether in paid employment, volunteering or as a stay-at-home parent or carer) you are likely to experience some degree of stress from time to time. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be human. A certain amount of stress is healthy. But when pressure becomes too great or continues for long periods this can be unhealthy.

The five main causes of work-related stress in the workplace (CIPD, 2008) are:

  1. workload
  2. management style
  3. relationships at work
  4. organizational change and restructuring
  5. lack of employee support from line managers

Remember…nothing is as strong as gentleness! So, look after yourself!

Two aspects of health

In general, we can think of looking after two aspects of our health:

Physical health

Issues related to promoting and maintaining good physical health may require lifestyle changes and/or some type of medical intervention (e.g. allergy medication). Whilst smoking tobacco and taking recreational drugs, for example, may be a life style choice, there are now many types of help available to overcome any addiction. Remember that some medications can exacerbate a voice difficulty (e.g. making the throat excessively dry), so always read the ‘side effects’ information about your medication and discuss any concerns with your doctor – he/she may be able to prescribe an alternative.

The following are known to contribute to voice difficulties.

  • acid reflux
  • bacterial infections
  • viral infections
  • allergies (hay fever, sinusitis)
  • smoking tobacco
  • recreational drugs
  • high caffeine intake
  • some medications (corticosteroids; antihistamines)

Emotional health

The following may contribute to and/or exacerbate a voice difficulty.

  • anxiety
  • depression
  • muscle tensions

Low level anxiety/worry can lead to muscle tensions which affect the head and neck area. This affects the easy movement of the vocal folds, resulting in a muscle-tension dysphonia. It’s important that you learn to recognize symptoms of stress and how you react to them. Then you need to develop a way of managing the stress that works for you. For some people, meditation is the best thing in the world but for others it can be irritating and unhelpful. You may need to explore a few options before you find the best method for you. But remember…

BE KIND TO YOURSELF!

Further reading

Reduced general health and emotional wellbeing are risk factors for exacerbating the effects of functional dysphonia. Maximizing your physical and emotional health is, therefore an important step in alleviating the symptoms of functional voice difficulty. The six prescribed actions are:

Symptoms and causes of functional dysphonia

1. Understanding symptoms and causes of functional dysphonia

Voice production

2. Understanding voice production

Improving vocal habits

3. Improving vocal habits

Effective voice production

4. Using effective voice production techniques

Managing the speaking environment

5. Managing the speaking environment

Maximizing your physical and emotional health

6. Maximizing your physical and emotional health (this article)

References

CIPD (2008) Absence Management Annual Survey Report London: Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.