Our voice can show that we’re stressed (even when we don’t know)

Everyone deals with stressful times in their life. From experiencing work burnout to dealing with conflict in our relationships, we cannot avoid it.

This stress can manifest itself in many ways. Classic symptoms include headaches, interrupted sleep, persistent tiredness and chest pains, but other signs include blemishes and other skin problems, nervous limbs and dark circles.

Now, new research has found that being stressed can change your voice, too.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, asked 111 people ages 19 to 59 to complete voice diaries over a seven-day period.

Recordings of people talking every night after work were analyzed by researchers over the course of a week. Participants were asked to report the stressors they experienced that day and their perceived stress levels.

Distinct changes were identified on days when people reported more stressors, the researchers found. Participants spoke faster and with more intensity when they had tensions that day, regardless of how stressed they said they were feeling.

In other words, we don’t always know how stressed we are – but our voice could be giving away the game. And the reason for these changes?

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, which leads to the production of hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, explains Markus Langer, author of the study at the University of Saarland in southwest Germany.

This has an impact on various bodily functions, including our voice.

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