Young adulthood is better characterized as a period of health-impairing lifestyles. This stage is defined as the period between 18 and 26 years, a time when youth have resources and a lot of time. This point in life is usually dubbed a transition period because people are moving from underneath the wings of their parents and into the adult world. As such, individuals are highly explorative, experimental, curious and focused on finding their identities as they progress from naivety to knowing. Here, people focus on exploring careers, friendships, having children, and romance (Lawrence et al., 2017). This ties in well with the key features of this period, which include numerous opportunities and possibilities, self-focus, instability, and identity exploration. Individuals at this stage also display more flexibility in problem-solving, understanding, and thought patterns.
All these variables combine to lead to negative outcomes health-wise. This is because people here now have an unprecedented degree of freedom, allowing them to do things they would not have been able to do before. Individuals here now have the physical and psychological abilities to try new things, which sets them up for several pitfalls. More specifically, given the little self-knowledge and the intense bid to know oneself, people indulge in things they do not have previous experience with. Young adults are especially driven by the need for social acceptance and to find out how they fit with the rest of society. This translates to a high risk of joining the wrong group, ingesting the wrong substances, and finding themselves in bad situations.
Statistics show that there is a higher mortality rate during young adulthood than during adolescence. Individuals at this stage are at the peak of their physical health, so this cannot be attributed to the same and it turns out it is because of societal and peer pressure (Lawrence et al., 2017). Other significant causes of this higher death rate include a decline in regular and reproductive health care, substance use and abuse, obesity, unhealthy diet, and inactivity (Hayes et al., 2019). Therefore, people in this transitional period are bombarded by internal and external factors that undermine their physical and mental health.
As intuited before, young adulthood is characterized by a lot of free time. Individuals in this stage are under less parental care but have the freedom to live and operate away from them. This then means that they have resources and a lot of time to spend and use them. Most of the people here are either in tertiary levels of education, transitioning into work after college, or in the initial years of their careers. All these stages also come with minimum responsibilities, meaning they have a lot of room for error, which exposes them to health hazards (Ojeda & Pacheco, 2019). This is especially the case as they do not yet have a clear picture of their role and what is expected of them. Therefore, while young adulthood can be a time of immense fun and good times, it is also highly detrimental to health. Individuals at this stage should enjoy it as much as possible while prioritizing their health. There is also a lot society can do to alleviate this problem. The best way forward would be to educate adolescents on this important period of their lives so they know what to do when they get there.
Hayes, G., Dowd, K. P., MacDonncha, C., & Donnelly, A. E. (2019). Tracking of physical activity and sedentary behavior from adolescence to young adulthood: a systematic literature review. Journal of Adolescent Health, 65(4), 446-454.
Lawrence, E. M., Mollborn, S., & Hummer, R. A. (2017). Health lifestyles across the transition to adulthood: Implications for health. Social Science & Medicine, 193, 23-32.
Ojeda, C., & Pacheco, J. (2019). Health and voting in young adulthood. British Journal of Political Science, 49(3), 1163-1186.