When I am angry and my sympathetic nervous system is going full speed ahead, and I'm seething, but I know I have to get up very early the next day, how can I reasonably expect to get any rest?
I know that it's supposed to take about 20 minutes for the parasympathetic nervous system to re-assert control, but that only works if the anger isn't ongoing. If it is, that's a problem, because not only does the adrenaline continue to flow, my heart continue to pound wildly, and my thoughts continue to rage, I also am so desperately physically uncomfortable that merely lying down at all, much less lying still, takes all the self-control I can muster.
If I know I have to get right back up again in less than 4 hours (as is the case right now!), I'm tempted to just pull another all-nighter, and not even bother going to bed. When I'm that angry, I usually can't eat or drink, either, so I end up burning through my body's resources without being able to replenish them, and getting dehydrated.
That simply cannot be very good for one's health overall.
I'm not a teenager any more, either; back then, I could still bound into class or work with energy after a sleepless night burning the proverbial candle at both ends, but that was then, this is now. These days, I find that I sometimes end up catching something that's going around because of the way stress suppresses the immune system, or ending up with a migraine.
If I can't resolve the angry issue right away and must suppress my anger, I need to be able to sleep. Using drugs isn't an option, except for a Beta-blocker.
A friend suggested lying as still as I can manage to discipline myself to do, putting my iPod on with soothing music, and keeping the room as cool as I can manage, plus sipping enough cool water to stay hydrated, and to be sure my head is propped up slightly because anger makes blood rush to the head.
Harder, though, is to stop obsessing over how I'm getting even more angry at being deprived of the sleep and food I need, and how terrible I will feel dragging myself out of bed a few hours later, especially if I haven't rested, skipping breakfast, and storming out the door in a state of unabated fury.
I do not allow myself to use being afflicted with seething anger as an excuse not to get up early and go out the door to the day's tasks, and I expect myself to get all my work done, and do it well, no matter how I feel physically. That is what everybody else has to do when they're angry. I'm not immature enough to think I'm an exception!
Anger isn't an illness, even though it can sometimes make one feel ill, and it certainly can hurt physically. I won't treat it as though it's an illness, ever. I know it does powerful things to the body, but I was raised being told that no angry person ever has an excuse to pretend it's the same as actually being ill. Even if it makes one throw up, or pass out, or causes a blinding migraine, it's not the same thing as having an actual illness cause those things to happen!
That said, I do feel terrible. I can't sleep or eat. I haven't slept or eaten in a day or more. My pupils are blown, my head hurts, I'm dizzy and weak, my ears are ringing, I'm shaking. But I'm not sick.
What's the best way to handle it? Is my friend right: should I try to force myself to relax? Or should I just power on through a very long day, without any rest at all?
Can my anger actually make me get sick for real?