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Friday Focus: Your Voice On Cortisol

This is the end of week one in GROW Voice as an exclusively virtual studio. I hope you are well and oping with whatever your daily reality is right now. Keep breathing my friends.

Given our new normal, we are going to chat about cortisol. Cortisol is the emergency broadcast system for your body. It is made by your adrenal glands and gets deposited directly into your blood supply. Almost all the systems of your body have cortisol receptors. Also, cortisol is the primary fuel of the “flight-flight-freeze” response – yeah, that old chestnut.

During normal function, your brain measures the cortisol in your blood and makes adjustments. Too low and it sends a signal to the adrenals to make more. Too high and it will try chemical adjustments to compensate. Should that not work your brain might slow down or shut down systems to restore balance. Systems such as digestion, reproduction, immunity, and growth.

While your system is sorting all of this out, your vagus nerve is on high alert. Ready to trigger the fight, flight, or freeze response. Yes, I did say vagus nerve. Those of you playing the voice-use champions home game, remember that the vagus nerve is running the show on your voice and breath (among other important systems). If you are new, catch up here.

So a situation such as this one — A pandemic poised to run amok, social distancing, and working from home (with kids). Something like this is a perfect storm. Thankfully all of the things we do to regulate the vagus nerve will help store cortisol to normal levels.

If you are feeling stress, you need to stage an intervention for yourself. Stress will tell you that you don’t have time for this but it is lying. Remember that we are our bodies.

  1. Take a walk outside (with social distancing, of course).
  2. Practice deep breathing.
    1. You can do a pattern such as 4-7-8 (inhale for 4 exhale it all, then for 7, exhale it all, then for 8, exhale it all and repeat as needed).
    2. Or, use an app. I like: Relax – Stress and Anxiety Relief, and Calm.
  3. Sing. I kid you not. The expenditure of air as singing has been a reset for the human-animal for as long as we have existed. Give it a try.

The upside is that when your stress is managed you will have also built the foundation of exceptional voice use.

COME TO OFFICE HOUR: I will be hosting a weekly office hour on Fridays at 12 pm (starting today). Answering any voice, speech, or singing questions you have and getting our voices moving. Come to the GROW Voice FB page or email me for the link.

Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit

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