• Electronic Relaxation Aids And ME/CFS

    Written by Casey Douglass

    Photo used freely courtesy of Gratisography.

    Relaxation is something that sufferers of any illness will often hunt for, like some elusive mystical creature hiding in the tall grasses of pain and discomfort. ME/CFS sufferers can feel particularly bereft when it comes to winding down, and even if they can decompress a little, the process seems to simply stop their fatigue from growing worse, rather than actively helping it recede a little. The idea of trying to find effective ways to relax is still something worth persevering with however, the less tension and stress carried around within you, the better you will likely cope with another day of the illness.

    To return to my colourful metaphor, gadgets such as smartphones, MP3 players and new technologies exist that can aid us in finding effective ways to relax, giving us a high-powered scope for our metaphorical hunter as they creep through the landscape of illness. While more meditative relaxation techniques are of course available, this article will solely focus on the benefits of using technology as a relaxation tool.

    White Noise

    A sad fact of life is that many of us live away from nature. If you are lucky enough that your home overlooks the sea or is near woodland, I hope you recognise your good fortune. Many sufferers live in urban environments, where the sounds of the odd bird in the garden often get drowned out by the bin lorry arriving at number 42. Nature sounds are very relaxing for a large number of people; birdsong, rain and sea-waves all lulling the mind and masking out the other noises of modern life. There are a number of places online that provide nature sounds on CD or as MP3s, but even these can vary in their make-up. Some will simply be pure nature, others will add piano and other instruments to play melodies over things. While this latter kind can be very relaxing, it is the first kind we are interested in here. The “bare-bones” nature of white noise gives your mind something to focus on, the seemingly random susserations of wind or waves enough to keep the part of the brain that is interested in such things, hooked and content. It doesn’t even have to be natural white noise; a recording of an air-conditioner or fan humming away can just as easily do the trick. Even the sound of the crowd at a football match can be effective; I’ve often fallen asleep listening to the football, the only drawback being the change in noise texture if either team scores!

    Binaural Beats

    Binaural Beats are sounds of slightly different frequencies played into each ear at the same time, the effect being that the listener hears a pulsing tone, caused by the way the brain processes audio input. Some quarters believe that various tones can put the brain into different brainwave states, helping the listener achieve relaxation or sleep. There are many white noise and relaxation CDs on the market that include this kind of technology, so if you have tried the variety that doesn’t have it, these can be well worth a try too, to see if they produce a stronger relaxation effect for you.


    Yet another variety of audio help is some kind of pre-recorded hypnosis track. Many of these often feature nature sounds and binaural beats, so if you got on well with the above methods, you might like to seek these out. Hypnosis is, very basically, a way of lulling the mind into a state of consciousness that is open to suggestion from the talker. This might sound scary, but used in the right way, it seems to have useful applications for dealing with various personality and performance issues. There are any number of websites that offer hypnosis tracks on various issues, from basic relaxation, to things like acceptance and addiction control. Some of the best, in my own experience, are the tracks from hypnotist Andrew Johnson. He has a number of tracks available to aid relaxation and gain a better night’s sleep, along with various ones on positivity and attitude. Visit his website HERE to have a browse and see if any interest you. He often has offers on his emailing list too, so it might be well worth signing up to that, if nothing else.


    Thanks to smartphones and tablets, we now have apps for almost any purpose, from making farting sounds to buying stuff online. There are apps for pretty much everything I have already mentioned in this article: white noise generators, binaural beat makers and hypnosis (Andrew Johnson also has his own apps). Apps give us the means of taking our relaxation aid with us on the move, or in a more convenient way. Many will even allow us to tailor the experience to our own liking, letting us change the pitch of the sound we are hearing or the length of the hypnosis session we are undertaking. Apps give options, so if you have a smart device, take a look in the appropriate app store for something that might prove useful. A number of apps also provide visual things to aid relaxation, such as relaxing pictures, colour therapy and written instructions on various techniques and philosophies. These are well worth a look too.


    If you search the internet for technology-aided relaxation, it doesn’t usually take long for more expensive gadgetry to emerge, from costly white noise generators to various kinds of light-emitting face-masks, massagers and helmets. While these may be very effective at what they do, I haven’t looked too closely at them because I wanted to keep the technology mentioned in this article down to affordable levels. Spending a few pounds on a smartphone app or even £10-20 on a CD or MP3 collection pales in comparison to the expense involved with some of these other, more involved solutions.


    Whichever your relaxation aid of choice, be aware that there is the risk of becoming dependent on it if you over use it. How would you feel if you got into a routine of listening to a particular CD and then found yourself without it for some reason? It is with this in mind that I would caution against the overuse of technology to bring about certain bodily states. It might work in the short term, but further down the road, you might end up regretting your reliance on it. This makes learning relaxation techniques, such as progressive muscular relaxation or meditation, helpful partners to your technology use. These will likely be covered in a different article. I would also like to add that even though I use a hunting analogy at the start of this article, relaxation isn’t something that should be hunted for. All you can do is to create circumstances in which relaxation might arise, anything else just produces tension and stress. Go into the whole “relaxation thing” with an open mind and a playful curiosity, as that tends to give the best results, as in many things in life.

    Closing Comments

    I hope that what you’ve just read has helped you to find something interesting or new to you, that you might now go away and try. Technology has brought us so many benefits, even the website you are reading this on wouldn’t have existed not too long ago. Embracing technology that helps us is usually well worth the effort, but if you do decide to give any of the above relaxation aids a go, do so mindfully. If you start to feel unwell as you listen to a binaural beat for example; stop. If in doubt, seek medical advice. Take care and I wish you luck on your journey towards relaxation.