Scratchy voice, stuffiness, and stuff. Advice on voice preservation?

I work full time in a call center and recently switched from a late shift (mostly paperwork) to an early shift (all phones, all day, 40 hours a week). By the end of Friday my throat hurts and my voice is scratchy and my sinuses are stuffed all to fuck because I have to talk so much. And I’m just SO TIRED OF TALKING that I never want to talk unless I have to. meh

I don’t know if this is causing long-term damage or what, it seems to go away by Monday. Is there a special “type” of talking voice I can use to stress my vocal cords less? (like how singers have their singing voice) or should I just chug chamomile and honey or lemon juice or something?

Honey and lemon are good, yes. There’s also Slippery Elm, which is an herb that soothes very well - you can find Slippery Elm lozenges at Whole Foods and health food stores. Thayersis probably the most widely recognized brand, but there are others out there.

As for the type of vocalization, it might be worth practicing some diaphragmatic breathing like well trained stage actors and singers do. Make a fist and put it at the base of your ribcage and breathe. Does your hand move out when you inhale? If so, good. Concentrate on keeping it doing that as you breathe while talking. This will produce good volume by using your ribcage as an amplifier (or is it resonater?) instead of straining to get volume from your throat. If your hand doesn’t move, or doesn’t move much, try it again while you’re lying down. See how it moves now? Your shoulders are pinned, so you’re forced to expand only your diaphragm to breathe. Sit up and try to get it to do the same. Keep your shoulders as still as you can and try to only move your diaphragm as you breathe.

Lots of water. Keep a water bottle at your desk. Drink often. Avoid clearing your throat – swallow instead (water or saliva). Some people also find it helpful to speak in a slightly higher register than what feels like their natural pitch, but YMMV on that one.

Your voice will still get tired, this will just help mitigate it a little.

As others said, stay hydrated, probably this is most important.

If you smoke/drink cut back or quit… both are irritants.

GERD (Acid reflux) or other digestive issues can also cause problems with the larynx, so you may want to consider losing weight or watching your diet, if you have issues with this… maybe just avoiding trigger foods.

Unless I’m freaking out about something, I nearly always inhale diaphragmatically (is that a word?) already, due to playing a saxophone in my high school days (and meditation practices). But I don’t believe I am speaking from my ribs, I probably speak from my throat. Good advice, I’ll try to incorporate that.

I definitely don’t drink enough water… but I hate having to pee like a racehorse at work. heh it’s weird I guess. But I have limited break times and I can’t get up and go whenever I want to. More time spent peeing on my breaks is less time I have to relax. And I really need the relaxation time.

I once worked in a 40hr/week call centre at an insurance company answering 160 calls a day, but to be honest I don’t recall this as a problem, or that it was mentioned by anyone else I worked with. So the only thing I can suggest is things like regular sips of water, throat lollies like Strepsils or mints to keep your stores of saliva up, and just check the regulation of your voice. Given the closeness of the mike to your mouth you really don’t have to speak that loud at all; perhaps you are just raising your voice a little?

Hot, or at least warm, apple juice.
Professional singers swear by it.