The Newsletter
May 1st, 2008                                                                  Find your natural dynamic speaking voice and maintain it!
Vocal Tip of the Month!
Seasonal Allergies

Spring is here and so is the allergy season.  Seasonal allergies shamelessly sneak up on us; affecting our breathing and consequently our voice, moods, and of course, our overall energy level.  Although airborne allergens are impossible to avoid, there are ways to at least lessen triggers and hopefully make the body a little less vulnerable to them.  Probably the easiest and most popular solution to seasonal allergies is antihistamine medication.  It is usually effective but dries out the vocal cords.  Drink lots of water if you do opt for that option.  Instead, I'd like to suggest a few alternatives that do not involve taking over-the-counter drugs.  

1) Sinus Flush: use a Neti Pot or the Neil Med Sinus Rinse to wash off allergens such as
pollens, dust particles, pollutants and bacteria stuck in the delicate mucous membrane of your nose.  Click on the links for more info!

Laundry Matters: do not hang your laundry out to dry.  Use a clothes dryer instead; especially during your seasonal peak to avoid breathing in allergens stuck on your clothes and carrying them around all day long!  Another tip is to buy special laundry detergent such as Allersearch Allergen Wash that washes off allergens.  

3)  Feed your voice against allergies: to fight allergens, our defense mechanism produces histamine.  Histamine is a protein also contained in food.  To keep histamine levels low in your body, choose your food carefully during your seasonal peak period.  A few foods to avoid are citrus fruits, chocolate, cheese, whole wheat bread, food preservatives and table leftovers.  Avoiding coffee is a must as it encourages your metabolism to overreact to allergens by overproducing histamine and mucous.  Include lots of fresh raw vegetables to your diet; all vegetables have low histamine levels.

4)  Plan time with your class to clean: I wish I could tell you to keep your classroom windows closed so that dust and pollens don't get in and collect on your walls, drapes, blinds and furniture but considering that most schools don't have air conditioning, that would be a pretty hard thing to do especially as the weather warms up.  That is why it is so important to clean your classroom often to get rid of these as much as possible.  If you ask your students to help, it can become a useful and fun end of the week activity.

5)  Check your local pollen report: this might be a useful approach to help you plan ahead your day accordingly.   Watch this short clip about how rain affect pollen release for example:

ABC News:  What Impact Does The Weather Have On Seasonal Allergies?

I will explain in more details how I discovered the consequences of histamine in food on allergies and how to decrease your body's vulnerability to any kind of allergens via other home remedies, organic products and modern technologies you can use in your home or at school.  You will find all of that and more in my upcoming book: "Voice Yourself in the Classroom".  Additional information coming soon!   
Interesting Facts
Over half of the population in the United States suffers from food induced or airborne allergies.  The latter are commonly triggered by tree, weed and grass pollen, and mould    
spores.  Even though generally not life threatening, untreated seasonal allergies can lead to serious health problems such as asthma or sinusitis and should not be taken lightly.  Hay fever is in fact the cause of over 15 million doctor visits in the United States. Workers suffering from sinusitis take about four days off work each year* while asthma is responsible for over 10 million sick days** yearly.  Allergy sufferers may experience a runny nose (with a clear mucous discharge), frequent sneezing, wheezing, coughing, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, itchy eyes and ears popping during allergen exposure. Other related causes of allergies include difficulty concentrating and sleepiness due to medication.  

Check out these websites for your local pollen forecast:

The Weather Network (Canada)
The Weather Channel (USA)
Pollen Info (Worldwide)

What's Happening?
More FREE Vocal Tips!

I am pleased to announce that you can now read all of this year's "Voice Yourself" newsletters on my website.  If you joined my mailing list recently, here is your chance to get caught up with more precious vocal tips!  Click on the link below to read my FREE newsletters:

Voice Yourself Newsletters

Help Me Promote Voice Yourself :)

I would like to have more exposure to my website and newsletters.  If you know any teachers, singers, actors or anybody else that would be interested in my website and newsletter, please, please, please pass the word around!  I have spent a lot of time putting my website together and writing my newsletters and even though 1) I do not earn any money off this initiative, and 2) I do it for the love of the voice and for fun, I would love to be able to share my ideas with and help as many people as possible!  Here is how you can help:

a)  Tell your friends about
b)  E-mail the link above to  anyone you know that uses his/her voice as a living or a pastime.  
c)  If you are a teacher and have intramail or some kind of conference set up where other teachers share discussion topics, start a thread to let them know about Voice Yourself in the Classroom and provide the link above to my website!
d)  If you are a member of a message board on a related topic (teaching or voice), start a thread to invite other board members to my website and include a link to it.
e) Sign my Guest Book!  If you have enjoyed visiting my website or reading my newsletters, please let know what you liked by signing it here!
Relevant Links

Voice Yourself in the Classroom

Valerie Bastien

The Voice Connection
Inspiring Quotes and Stories...
What did you do or will you do today to better yourself?

A couple weeks ago, I read a fantastic new motivational book on how to use your thoughts and the power of vibrations to achieve your goals in life.  The title of this book is: Mindset: Programming Your Mind for Success and it was written by my good friend and mentor Jaime Vendera.  There are many things to gain from this book but there is a strategy that particularly resonated with me and which I thought I'd share with you.  As you start your day, either as you get up or as an opening exercise with your class, ask yourself and/or your students:  What will I do today to better myself?  Try to follow through with your plan and reconvene at the end of the day to ask again: what did I do today to better myself?  Ask students to share if they were able to meet their expectations or if something else unexpected but equally positive might have happened.  This can also be done silently as well as an introspective exercise.  I've already started doing this and I find that it really pushes me and my students to go out of my way to do good things around me.  Doing good feels good and makes everybody happier!
Things to Note
If you like what I do, please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and feedback with me by signing my online Guest Book! You can also contact me directly at:

Have a wonderful month!

-Valerie Bastien