Everyone deals with stressful moments in their lives. From burnout at work to how we deal with arguments in our relationships, we can’t avoid it.
This stress can manifest itself in a number of ways. Classic symptoms include headaches, trouble sleeping, persistent fatigue and chest pains, but other signs include pimples and other skin problems, trembling limbs and dark circles under the eyes.
Now, new research has found that stress can also change your voice.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, asked 111 people, ages 19 to 59, to keep speech diaries over a seven-day period.
Recordings of people who spoke every night after work were analyzed by the researchers over the course of a week. Participants were asked to report both the stressors they experienced that day and their perceived stress levels.
Marked changes were seen on the days when people reported more stressors, researchers found. Participants spoke faster and more intensely when they had stress that day, regardless of how stressed they felt.
In other words, we don’t always know how stressed we actually are – but our voice might give the game away. And the reason for these changes?
Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to the production of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, explains Dr. Markus Langer, study author from Saarland University in south-west Germany.
This affects several bodily functions, including our voice.
The researchers are optimistic that their findings could help help people keep track of their everyday stress levels and better manage their well-being. Voice recordings would be an objective measure that didn’t rely on someone noticing how stressed they were, they said.
Wearable technology or microphones in our smartphones and smart speakers could be used to collect voice data over longer periods of time to help us understand our individual and collective stress levels.
“Given that stress is a universal cause of health problems, this could help monitor the day-to-day effects of stressors and facilitate early detection of stress, potentially contributing to better well-being,” the study authors said .
What can we do to manage stress in the moment?
Nicola Perry, a North Somerset consultant, previously told HuffPost that she estimates 90% of her clients are stressed in some way. “We live in a pretty anxious society and we have fragmented attention between work, social media and the demands of our phone,” she says. “We don’t have the same focus to deal with problems that we may have had in the past.”
Mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve mood, and calming breathing exercises can help if you’re feeling particularly anxious.
Neil Shah, chief de-stressing officer at nonprofit The Stress Management Society, advises sitting or standing in a relaxed position; breathe in slowly through your nose while counting to five; and exhale from your mouth counting to eight. Repeat this several times.
Exercise can also help improve your mood when stress makes you feel down — and help you think more clearly. There is also evidence that volunteering or helping others can increase a person’s resilience to stress.
It can be helpful to talk about your stress with friends, family members, or even co-workers as they will offer support or, if workload is a problem, ways to reduce the workload.
But if you feel like stress is taking over your life, consider speaking to a therapist — you can find one that’s a good fit for you through sites like Counseling Directory and BACP.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/what-is-stress-voice-and-how-do-you-know-if-you-have-it_uk_62b2c763e4b0c77098b50376 Our Voice Can Show We’re Stressed (Even When We Don’t Know It)