As we grow older, our bodies dry out. Although that thrills plastic surgeons and others in the rejuvenation business, it’s an unwelcome reality for singers, voice actors, and public speakers. A dry voice box is not a healthy voice box.
I’ve noticed it more and more with my mom, who just turned 87, bless her heart. Over the last year, she’s developed a dry cough, which has not been helped by our very dry winter in South Florida this past season.
Really, if any part of our body is dry, it will leech hydration from wherever it can. Or put another way, our bodies divide and distribute a limited water resource. That’s why staying hydrated has to be a full-body experience, from the inside out and the outside in. Drinking water isn’t enough though it’s a start. Here are some other ways to keep our bodies hydrated and our voice boxes wet:
- Moisturize your skin with body lotion daily. Skin is the body’s largest organ and demands a lot of hydration, especially in arid or hot climates.
- Inhale your food. No, I don’t mean eat fast. I literally mean inhale the steam from your food before you consume it. Whether it’s a cup of tea, a bowl of soup, a hot stew or warm bread, allowing the steam to enter your body through your nose helps to hydrate your respiratory system and that voice box. It also makes your food taste better when you take the time to smell it, provided it’s tasty food to begin with.
- Soaking in a tub is nice but don’t forget a hot shower. A hot shower produces negative ions and positive vibes, but also gives off steam, the fastest way to hydrate our lungs short of drowning (not recommended).
- Â Use eye drops. I think one of the biggest pleasures I have is rubbing my tired eyes. It provides immediate relief, but it’s never enough and my body knows it. The quickest way to soothe my eyes, and keep them from leeching my water reserves, is to use a couple drops of Similasan Dry Eye Relief eye drops, or some other hydrating solution my eye doctor recommends. If your a voice producer sitting in front of a computer editing waveforms all day long, you probably already know that eye drops can offer a lot of relief.
- Air dry your hair, at least partially — yep, that can actually help your voice. Blasting your head with a high-wattage blow dryer doesn’t just dry your hair out, it also dries your scalp, face, ears and all the air around you. Short of sticking your head in a dryer, you couldn’t do a better job of it. Consider letting your hair dry naturally from time to time, or styling it later when it’s less wet, maybe using a slightly lower setting on the blow dryer. The other upside is you’ll save on electricity.
- Eat fruits, especially bananas. Fruits are pretty much water-logged foods and help to hydrate our bodies naturally. Bananas have an added bonus of containing good amounts of potassium which help balance the electrolytes in our bodies and keep our bodies working the way they’re supposed to.
- Avoid the ocean and salt flats. Before refrigerators, people preserved meat by dipping it in salt to dehydrate it; then they’d soak it for hours to bring it back to edible. Even today, salted meats and fish are still popular (not with me). Salt dehydrates, even salt water. If you don’t believe me, weigh yourself before and after swimming in the ocean for an extended period. You’ll generally weigh less after the salt-water swim unless you’re pretty dehydrated going in (hope not).
- Moderate everything. Basically what I mean is don’t overdo anything; don’t overhydrate — primarily by drinking too much water at once. Overhydration can flip out our bodies’ electrolyte balance as quickly as dehydration (sometimes faster) and cause significant health risks, really bad ones. The key words here are balance and moderation.
For me, the main thing is I don’t just think of drinking water when I’m hydrating or keeping from dehydrating. I think in terms of keeping my skin, eyes, lungs, and the rest of my body hydrated, which helps my voice (and my brain for that matter). It’s all good.