A stressful work environment could change your voice, study finds

A stressful day at work could change the way you speak, according to new research.

A small-scale study of 111 people from Germany has found a link between work stressors and increased speech rate and voice intensity.

Researchers at the University of Augsburg and Saarland University said the findings show that the voice could “become an early indicator of potentially problematic stress levels, which are one of the most universal cases for health issues”.

High levels of stress or chronic stress are associated with a range of health concerns, including cardiovascular diseases and mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

Participants of the study, aged between 19 and 59, were asked to take part in a one-week diary whereby they provided voice messages on their daily work routines.

Those who took part came from a range of professional backgrounds such as healthcare and medicine, engineering, consulting and administration.

They used their personal smartphones to sentd voice notes in response to a set of questions and complete self-reporting tasks.

Analysis of the voice recordings using computer software showed distinguishable changes in people’s voices on the days that they reported more stress factors.

Researchers said increased stress levels activated the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn stimulates the production of adrenalin and cortisol.

This may increase muscle tension in the neck and throat, and specifically the vocal chords. This heightened tension can cause changes in the pitch of a person’s voice.

Increased stress hormone production can also lead to a higher respiratory rate, which increases the pressure with which air flows through the area where the vocal cords are located. This may increase voice intensity and how fast people speak.

The research found the clearest association between stress at work and speech rate and voice intensity – both were higher with more intense work stressors.

“Our study demonstrates that everyday stress is associated with the voice,” the authors of the study said.

“Specifically, we emphasize that there might be potential to use the voice as an indicator of people’s everyday stress levels and as a possible easy-to-capture source of data to detect and prevent stress related consequences on well-being.”

Researchers highlighted that voice data will not be the only or the best indicator for stress, but could prove useful when used in combination with other stress-related measures.


Douglas Mateo

Douglas holds a position as a content writer at Neptune Pine. His academic qualifications in journalism and home science have offered her a wide base from which to line various topics. He has a proficiency in scripting articles related to the Health industry, including new findings, disease-related, or epidemic-related news. Apart from this, Douglas writes an independent blog and assists people in living healthy life.

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