New research suggests that young adults are using social media to unwind before sleep, to avoid facing difficult feelings and emotions.
The study, undertaken by healthcare provider Vita Health Group, quizzed 2,000 adults aged 18+ across the UK about their wellness routines and night-time habits.
Researchers found that half of people aged 18-24 scroll through social media apps before they sleep. And 76% of people of the same demographic do not put aside any time to reflect on their daily feelings and emotions.
Tom Bivins, head of ergonomics and wellbeing at Vita Health Group, said that the emotional avoidance tactic of using social media in bed is contributing to the widespread deterioration of mental health in young people.
Mr Bivins added that whilst social media might act as “a welcome relief to some, our research suggests that young people are widely turning to social media before sleeping, and this could be an attempt to push negative or uncomfortable thoughts out of mind."
“The danger of scrambling for a distraction is that emotional avoidance is only a temporary fix. Not only will your body be using considerable effort to keep them quashed, but it is likely that the feelings you are avoiding will grow stronger, more intense, and uncontrollable over time.”
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How much time do people dedicate to reflection? Why is it important?
Concerningly, three-quarters of people 18+ surveyed responded that they do not consider it necessary to reflect on their feelings and emotions day-to-day. And nearly a third said that they do not consider their feelings at all, rising to almost a half of those aged 65 and over.
Daily reflection is an essential component of mental wellbeing, said Mr Bivins, as "it can help people to process their thoughts and feelings and offers the opportunity to put things into perspective. This is particularly relevant for all of us right now given the impact of the pandemic, especially when life can feel repetitive and challenging.”