LIFT YOUR VOICE | Artistic Expression and Healing

Self-expression is a critical, basic need for human beings. It helps others understand us. It is how we show our personality, convey our needs and make connections with others. Take the voice away and a person’s primary form of expression is also removed. So many people we have interviewed about living with a voice disorder talk of losing their voice like losing a friend. The loss of one’s voice can bring with it loneliness, anger, depression, anxiety, and a lower self-esteem. This year’s World Voice Day is dedicated to the theme of lift your voice. So, I asked myself, how does one lift their voice when they are also struggling with all these negative emotions.

There are many examples of people finding ways to come to terms with their voice disorder. Maybe they volunteer to help others cope. Maybe they change careers and find new passion that does not rely on the sound of their voice. Still others find creative outlets, writing music, poetry, or books. Maybe they paint or dance. We have so many examples of people from the community participating in the arts that we wanted to know more. Was art something that could lift the voice and help those living with a voice disorder? I did some digging.

There are countless articles on how art, music and other creative avenues help to express emotions. There are loads of research articles on the impact of art and healing. One to read is The Connection between Art, Healing and Public Health. This study looked at all the research on the impact of art to health. My favorite quote is “Art helps people express experiences that are too difficult to put into words”. Art is especially helpful in releasing negative energy because it is a way to communicate feelings and work things out in a positive way. It can help to improve anxiety and depression, promote a better self-esteem, and motivate. It can be a refuge from intense emotions associated with grief and a cathartic release for things that are not being expressed in words. 

Holy cow, art delivers a double whammy. It provides a unique and alternate form of self-expression that is so important to those who lost their voice due to a voice disorder. Plus, it offers a way to deal with all the negative emotions that accompany the onset of a voice disorder. Artistic expression demonstrates how you’re your still you with something important to say while the creative process allows you to deal with all those emotions.

You may not be able to write a song, but maybe some acrylic paints and a blank sheet is more your style. For others it’s pen to paper writing poetry or short stories. Don’t think you can do it, try crayons and a coloring book. Whatever way you want to express your artistic side, we say go for it. You have something to say, so as World Voice Day quickly approaches, it’s time to lift your voice. We’re listening. And tomorrow we will be announcing a new program inviting you to share your artistic side with our voice community!

Happy World Voice Day!

Nancy Panos | NSDA Project Advisor