Every year on 16th April Isle of Wight NHS Trust celebrates World Voice Day.
World Voice Day is about all things voice. Voice is a fascinating human ability to speak, sing, laugh and cry in a way that is totally unique to every one of us.
Shine a light on the human voice
World Voice Day has been celebrated since 1999 and on this day, voice care professionals and researchers such as Speech and Language therapists, Ear Nose and Throat specialists and professional voice users across the world, gather together to shine a light on the phenomenon of the human voice.
This year our voice community at St Mary’s Hospital is making World Voice Day special by drawing attention to the virtual voice and how to maintain a healthy voice online. We are also delighted to share Sophie’s inspirational story.
The virtual voice
Last year has brought dramatic changes to the way we live. One of these changes is the use of video platforms to communicate with our colleagues, clients, friends, and family. We have discovered that we can do so much via video meetings without even leaving our desks.
However, this can take its toll on our voices. Voice fatigue, hoarseness, throat discomfort, neck and back pain and increased mental stress are being reported frequently.
The challenges on video meetings
Video meetings can be challenging for a number of reasons: poor auditory and visual reception, the increased effort required to process elements of non-verbal communication, self-awareness of being watched, delays (lag), sitting for a long time in one position with the head held forward and a crouched back.
Talking for a long period of time in an uncomfortable position can make the muscles around the larynx (voice box) tense. Prolonged tension in those muscles can result in a lack of coordination of the vocal system. This can cause the voice to become croaky and weak and speaking effortful. This can lead to vocal injury.
Tips for a healthy voice
- use a chair that helps you maintain good posture and spend some of the work day standing
- position the screen directly in front of you to avoid leaning forward
- use headphones or external speakers
- use an external microphone
- don’t ‘shout’ at your screen, imagine the person you are speaking to is as near as your mic
- schedule short, frequent breaks into the workday to prevent voice fatigue, e.g. five minutes per hour
- start the working day with 5-10 minutes of stretches for body and voice, e.g. gentle stretches for the neck and shoulders, humming a simple tune and feeling the vibrations of the lips
- reset your voice during the day with simple voice exercises such as trilling your lips or pretending to suck a straw
- end the working day with a cool down, e.g. body stretches and voice glides from high to low
- inhale warm steam using only water
- set your work hours and stick to it even if the work is not finished
- engage in leisure activities that do not require gazing into an electronic screen
- do regular physical exercises, e.g. go for a walk or a bike ride, do some stretching or yoga
- have regular periods of voice rest in total silence, focus on nasal breathing and meditate.
Meet Sophie. Sophie is a teacher working and living in Newport.
Her voice condition has not stopped her from teaching, and she has become an inspiring influence to those around her. Watch Sophie share her story.
News shared by Isle of Wight NHS Trust, in their own words. Ed