In this post, I will talk about my own recommendations for relaxation, namely through the use of relaxation audio tracks. Relaxation therapy in itself will not cure M.E., but the level of anxiety involved in being so seriously ill can certainly be mitigated by having access to effective relaxation techniques. Remaining in an extended anxious state will not help you recover from the rest of your symptoms.
During my main M.E. crash from 2006-2009, in the absence of any diagnosis, I attributed my symptoms to essentially panic attacks. It seemed that the slightest amount of stress would trigger a complete draining of oxygen from my body, and a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. My level of anxiety just went through the roof, and the anxiety just seemed to fuel itself into a relentless cycle of not being able to think about anything except what the hell was happening to my mind and body, and whether I was going to die or whether I'd get through all my savings and have to go and live on the street. It felt that I was self-checking my symptoms and state of mind around the clock.
Out of desperation, I decided to try a couple of sessions with a private hypnotherapist who was based around a 30-minute walk away from where I was living. It was the only relevant type of help I could find in the area. Hypnotherapy is not about putting someone into a trance-like regressive state as they show in the movies, but is simply a guided thought session while you're lying in a darkened room that encourages the thoughts to track positive ideas and break out of the worrying cycle. I can claim to have left each session feeling improved for a period immediately after each session. I also found encouragement in having contact with a sympathetic person. However, it was too costly to continue beyond a third session, and it didn't take long for the anxiety to return, suggesting that it could need daily sessions to see greater benefit.
Still sure that my symptoms were panic attacks, I then got the idea to look for relaxation CDs in the bookstores. I purchased a couple of CDs for around ten quid each - relatively cheap compared to the cost of hypnotherapy sessions, and with the added benefit that you could listen to these CDs as many times in the day as you wanted. I also found some relaxation CDs available for hire in the local library, which I took home and burned.
I also bought a basic MP3 player so that I could store and listen to any tracks whereever and whenever. During my main crash, I couldn't tolerate to hear any type of music or irratically pitched voices such as broadcast on some of the chat and entertainment radio or TV shows. I could only handle some of the BBC Radio 4 programs. Another thing I found during my worst days was that trying to watch a TV program or movie that had any fast-paced action scene with pulsating music and rapid switches of scene would aggravate my symptoms.
So, back to the actual CDs I purchased: one of my favored ones was the Total Relaxation CD from Meditainment. I don't think it's really apt to associate relaxation CDs to the word 'entertainment'. The CD has three 20-minute tracks, all with the same female narrator, whose voice is really appropriate. The narration first encourages you to breathe deeply. If there is any negative side to the CD, I'd say that they don't spend enough time on deep breathing exercises. Then, you are taken through a semi-story through an imagined environment - track 1, battling through a desert, track 2, finding a cottage in a countryside valley, track 3, relaxing in a garden hammock. The accompanying sound effects are really lifelike. I can really recommend this CD. You can purchase this CD through the Meditainment website, although the price seems a little on the expensive side. Perhaps you can find a used copy through a site like Amazon for a lower cost.
You really need to set aside a time for listening to a track at least once through the day and get into a regular habit of going through a relaxation session which includes deep breathing. I personally found it best to listen while in a darkened room, lying in bed. However, there was a while when I found I needed to get this extra injection of relaxation while at work, so I found it great to go to a park during lunchbreak and listen to a track on the MP3 player. Again, relaxation CDs will cure your M.E., but they will help to literally give you some peace of mind, which cannot be underrated enough.