Winter is just around the corner, and that means flu, sore throats, coughs, and fevers are just around the corner as well. Harsh winter conditions can make it very difficult for a singer to stay healthy, but the flurry of auditions, performances, and practicing does not stop with the change in season. Follow these tips this winter to keep yourself and your voice in the game and not sick at home.
1. Breathe through your nose
Breathing through your nose is actually healthier for you on a daily basis, but it is especially useful in cold weather. When you breathe through your nose, the air has time to warm before reaching your lungs instead of the sharp cold from breathing winter air through your mouth. Additionally, your nose is a natural filtration system: it keeps out unwanted particles in the air before they can get into your system and further protect you from nasty winter colds.
2. Wear scarves and masks
Though it's beneficial, breathing through your nose cannot fully keep out the cold air. Cover your face with scarves or ski masks to create some warmth and humidity around your mouth and nose. Don't make your vocal cords face the cold without any protection.
3. Invest in a humidifier
Winter is not only cold but it is also a very dry time of year. When your throat gets dry, it is more vulnerable to irritation and less able to help you sing well. Sleeping in colder, dryer rooms can dry out your throat while you sleep, and having a dry throat every single night can seriously damage a singer's ability. Put a humidifier in your bedroom and sleep easier -- your throat will thank you.
4. Drink something warm
Tea, a singer's favorite beverage, is a must in the winter. Soothing, warm beverages can help relax your throat and warm your vocal cords. However, it is crucial that you pay attention to what type of tea you're drinking. Caffeine is a diuretic and dries out your system, so overloading on caffeinated tea or coffee will do more harm than good. But don't worry, there are plenty of decaffeinated options out there -- many herbal teas and rooibos teas are caffeine-free and taste just as delicious.
5. Be wary of cold remedies
Some products used to remedy cold symptoms, such as decongestants and antihistamines, can be dangerous to a singer. These products are designed to dry up your extra mucus when you are sick, but remember that mucus protects your throat and vocal cords when they are inflamed during a cold. Drink lots of water to make your mucus thinner, use steam and humidifiers to soothe inflammation, and consult an ENT to find symptom relief that won't dry you out completely.
6. Stay up-to-date on your flu shots
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to note that general health will also go a long way to keep your voice healthy. No matter how well you keep out the cold, if you end up with the flu, you'll be down for the count. Do your best to make sure that preventable illnesses aren't the things keeping you offstage.
7. Sleep and eat healthily
One of the best ways to keep healthy is to practice healthy living. Eat healthily and get a sufficient amount of sleep every night, and your immune system will thank you.
Don't let winter keep you from sounding your best! Take care of yourself in the cold to ensure your vocal cords stay in tip-top shape.