What is the last thing you do before you go to sleep? Do you take a moment to think about your day? Meditate Read a book? Or are you just scrolling through social media one last time?
When you scroll you are not alone. According to a study by health care provider Vita Health Group, 50% of UK adults use social media apps in bed before sleeping at least once a week or longer. 27% admit this is a daily habit. These numbers rise when we look at younger age groups, with 56% of 18-24 year olds browsing social media every night before bed. Of this age group, 76% say that they do not take the time to think about their feelings and emotions on a daily basis.
Scrolling can be an effective stunning tool. Instead of sitting with our own thoughts and feelings, we can flood our minds with those of other people. We take their words, ideas and opinions and calm our own. At the time it may feel like a great way to distract us before bed, but in the long run it can be harmful.
Tom Bivins, Head of Ergonomics and Wellbeing at Vita Health Group, believes this tactic of emotional avoidance using social media in bed contributes to the deterioration in the mental health of young people.
“The danger of looking for distraction is that emotional avoidance is only a temporary solution.
“Not only will your body go to significant efforts to suppress them, but the feelings you avoid are likely to grow stronger, more intense, and more uncontrollable over time.” He says.
“It can be very useful to take some time each day to reflect on yourself. It can help people process their thoughts and feelings, and it is an opportunity to put things into perspective. This is of particular concern to all of us right now, given the impact of the pandemic, especially when life feels repetitive and challenging. “
Creating space for thought is something that many of us don’t. According to Vitas research, 75% of Britons don’t feel it is necessary to think about feelings and emotions on a daily basis. However, when we take this time, we give our emotions room to breathe. Instead of staying wrapped up in us and threatening to show up at any moment, they can be acknowledged, processed, and even released.
How can we do this and change our habit of scrolling before bed? This is where intent comes into play when we set up a new handler.
Create a processing routine with room for self-reflection
As humans, we are creatures of habit. Instead of simply trying to break an existing habit (like scrolling before bed), our brains actually find it easier to develop new habits. Here are some tips for creating a new unfold routine to replace your scrolling habit:
- Set a completion alert on your phone. This can help you turn off equipment and start unwinding. If you haven’t already, this can also be a great time to prepare for bed – lower the lights, get into your PJs, and feel physically ready for sleep.
- Try using the downtime feature (if you have an iPhone) or apps like Freedom to block social media apps after a certain amount of time.
- Take some time to think about your day. You might want to try journaling, meditating, drawing, or just thinking about how you felt today. What’s up for you? Remember that when you’ve had a tough day, you don’t have to come up with any solutions. It can be often enough to acknowledge this and realize that tomorrow is a new day. Just getting your emotions “out” can help calm a racing mind and encourage more restful sleep.
- Do something relaxing without numbing right before bed. Listen to soothing music, a meditation, or a sleep story. Take a warm bath, use aromatic sleep-inducing oils, or read a book – anything to help you decompress after the day.
Challenge yourself to keep this up for a month and see how you feel afterward. If you are having trouble dealing with negative feelings and emotions, consider speaking to a professional.
VitaMinds offers free mental wellbeing assistance to residents in certain districts in the UK. Alternatively, find a private therapist in the Counseling Directory.