Prevention is the best cure!
In a nutshell: Make sure you are getting enough rest, maintain a balanced plant-based alkaline diet and get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily
The changing of seasons is always one to be aware of. Change in temperature can wreak havoc in the body. Be aware that the Cold or Flu Virus becomes rampant leading into Winter. July and August are the months to take extra precautions.
If you do catch a cold, flu virus or bacterial infection, stay away from other people to avoid spreading the germs. This may mean taking time off from work or school until the you are well again. It is very important to cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to avoid the virus becoming airborne and potentially infecting others. The flu virus can live for up to 6 hours on surfaces and is therefore very easy to spread if not managed properly.
The flu can last around 10 days. By simply taking a few precautions, which would take a few minutes out of your day, you can increase your immune system and decrease the probability of the onset of a cold, flu or URTI and spreading it to others.
Here are some pointers to help ward off the onset of a Cold, Flu or Upper Respiratory Track Infection:
Rest – Hydrate – Warmth – Diet – Exercise
Your voice will function at its best when it is housed in a healthy body that is well-rested, hydrated, warm, and fit. The following are points to consider in keeping yourself healthy and your voice functioning at its optimal when singing:
- Aim for at least 8 hours of undisturbed sleep every night – in the dark, in silence
- Practise Meditation, Breathing and Priming Exercises
- Drink fluids regularly throughout the day – when dehydration occurs, the vocal folds are the first organ in your body to dry out. Keeping well hydrated is vital for your voice to be able to function properly and for your general well-being. Do what you can to keep your body warm and at a steady temperature. It is important for your vocal tract and larynx to be well lubricated when singing. Water requires approximately one hour to circulate throughout your body. Avoid consuming anything other than luke-warm, filtered water for at least one hour before singing and keep hydrating yourself while singing. I drink Nobles Pureau as it is pure water that does not contain salt, chlorine, fluoride or any other impurities normally found in tap water which could potentially impede my vocal health. Hot water causes the vocal folds to swell and cold water causes them to become thin and brittle. I have noticed a lot of students drinking cold drinks in their singing lessons – that would be similar to you being outside in the freezing cold with shorts and a singlet and me telling you to do 10 repetitions of 20kg chest presses. Be kind to your body.
- Steam is the only source that will directly carry fluid and hydrate the vocal folds instantly – so to instantly lubricate your voice, steam.
- Keep warm – maintain a steady, warm body temperature (VERY IMPORTANT)
- It is not ideal to sing in an air-conditioned room but this is mostly unavoidable. Avoid positioning yourself in the direct air flow of the air-conditioner. If you have control of the air-conditioner, have the temperature set to 25°C.
- Avoid sitting in a breezy or windy area. If you are outside and there is a breeze blowing on you, move. Moving could be as simple as moving to the table across from yours.
- If you wash your hair, dry it immediately. Avoid exposing your wet or damp hair in cooler weather.
- Do not sleep with open windows or the fan on in cooler weather
- Maintain a balanced plant-based alkaline diet. Choose certified organic foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants that are alkalizing to the body such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains by eliminating acid-forming foods such as animal meat, dairy, fried food, refined sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Acid-forming foods breed ill-health and disease. The consumption of dairy causes inflammation and results in increased mucous production leading to recurrent URTIs and Hay fever symptoms (a nightmare for a vocalist). Eat fruits rich in Vitamin C such as Kiwi Fruit.
- Vitamins – be sure to take a B12 and get your Vitamin D fix by getting out in the sun everyday
- Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily – include Cardiovascular, Resistance and Core Strength
- Prepare you mind and body to sing by doing physical stretches
- Warm up your voice before you start your performance or practice session
- Wash your hands regularly with antibacterial soap for 20 seconds – avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
- Close the door after going to the lavatory to avoid spreading airborne germs.
- Grooming for an entertainer is very important. When an entertainer is poorly presented or has poor hygiene, it distracts from their performance. Audiences can be quite fickle and unforgiving, so keep yourself neat and tidy to keep the attention on your performance and to respect yourself and your craft.
- Before a performance:
- brush, floss and mouthwash your teeth
- remove any unsightly hair (for ladies – toes, legs, bikini line, armpits, chin, above the upper lip, nostrils, nose, around your eyebrows; for men – nostrils, ears)
- pore strip (do this at least a day before a performance)
- groom your finger and toe nails
- apply make-up (for ladies – to match your outfit; rich enough to be seen from the stage)
- style your hair
- dress to impress
- Before a performance:
Allergens and Irritants
- Avoid local irritants such as tobacco smoke, alcohol and medications such as Cold’n’Flu tablets or anything containing antihistamines.
- Reduce air borne irritants in your immediate environment. This includes deodorant sprays, hair spray, domestic cleaning products, dust, paint products etc. It may be of benefit for you to be tested for allergies. See your GP for an allergy test.
- Avoid menthol or eucalyptus – use peppermint or chamomile instead
- Choose Certified Organic where possible