Is that chilly weather sneaking up on us ever so slyly? Why yes it is. A downside of all things cozy and holiday-themed is the chill that can run through us. For those that rely on healthy and hydrated vocals year round, we must protect, prepare and stay ahead of the curve on this one.
First things first is to employ all preventative measures. This means being ahead of schedule while anticipating the effects that your environment could very well have on you. During the chillier months, our vocal cords can be incredibly susceptible to the constant interaction with a wide range of temperatures. Often we will walk around with snow on the ground and quickly head inside with a piping heater, a cozy blanket and a piping hot cup of coffee. This can not only shock the system, but the heavy indoor heat can lead to severe dehydration throughout the entire body.
Now, we should always maintain healthy vocal practices, but during the winter months, we are even more vulnerable to the world around us and how we choose to interact with it. It’s imperative to stay hydrated all year round, but especially during the colder months because you’re making up for the hydrating that you’re losing, as well as factoring in the typical amount that you should be intaking the rest of the year. Additionally, when it comes to moisture, you can add a steam shower to your regular routine, with perhaps once a week being a great addition.
Maintaining a boosted immune system is another item on your to-do list that you should maintain year round, yet during the drier months, where the cold and flu seem to pop up at every corner, it's time be incredibly dilligent in drinking and eating the proper items that are nutritional and replenishing to your body. We suggest to do your thorough research and consult your doctor on this one. However, one quick tip would be to enjoy those nightly hot tea sessions, preferably skipping the caffeinated specialties, allowing that hot tea to break up the mucus that you may have acquired without dehydrating you further.
Have you ever noticed that you'll often see a school full of singers seriously adopting the scarf look during those holiday months? It turns out this isn't just for comfort and style. Voices.com fills us in "By wearing a scarf or neck warmer, you are able to control the temperature of the air you are breathing in thereby minimizing the likelihood of your vocal folds drying out, coughing or laboured breathing." This allows you to maintain all that hydration that you've been working towards. Additionally, it's best to minimize shocking your system.
Finally, we must not forget the elephant in the room that many of us like to sweep under the rug, that which we think that once we've reached a certain level of skill, that we no longer need to employ - the art of warming up and practice. Warming up is particularly cruical during the chilly months due to the fact that your voice sometimes needs that extra boost to move from one harsh environment to the next. Be sure to use your time wisely and don't force your voice when it's feeling strained and under the weather. The sooner us singers adopt these practices, the quicker we'll see the benefits of our vocal cords being well-oiled machines, no matter how much snow is on the ground.