Blue Monday

January 21, 2018

If you woke up on Monday, feeling thoroughly fed up with your life in general, you may not have been alone. Apparently, it was ‘Blue Monday’ which is officially the most depressing day of the year!

Blue Monday typically falls on the third Monday in January, the concept of it being the ‘most depressing day’ was first publicised in 2005 as part of a marketing campaign by a holiday company. The campaign was put together in a bid to encourage people to cheer themselves up by booking a holiday to give themselves something to look forward to, the company commissioned a university academic to determine the most depressing day of the year.

Dr Cliff Arnall was a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning attached to Cardiff University at the time. He devised a formula, predicting the glummest day of the year. It took into account factors such as debts left from Christmas rolling in, the blues from Christmas and New Years, failing New Year resolutions, lack of motivation, short days and miserable weather conditions, the amount of days until the next holiday and so on. According to his Dr Arnall’s equation, the most misery-filled day would typically fall on the third Monday in January, which is now called ‘Blue Monday’.

Other academics were quick to criticise his formula as #’nonsensical pseudoscience’, and even Cardiff University too steps to distance itself from Dr Arnall’s concept. But the idea of Blue Monday hit it off with the public, who were certainly feeling at a low point in mid to late January. It was soon featured heavily across social media platforms, not just in the UK but spreading the northern hemisphere.

Over a dozen years later, the idea of Blue Monday is ingrained amongst us in popular culture, even printed on some calendars. Some retailers, both online and in the real world, even use ‘Blue Monday’ as a stage for quick sale, offering special discounts for 24 hours to help people beat the blues with ‘retail therapy’ by grapping bargains.

The ‘inventor’ of Blue Monday, Dr Arnall, who you might think is all about doom and gloom but on the contrary, it’s far from it. He now runs happiness and confidence sessions for larger organisations such as the NHS and the Department of Work and Pensions, advising people on strategies to improve motivation and job satisfaction in themselves and others.

Working on the basis that for every negative there is a positive, Dr Arnall was also commissioned – this time by an ice cream company – to come up with a formula for the happiest day of the year. In 2005 it fell on June 24th and it has been around that date in mid to late June ever since. It is usually on a Friday – just before the weekend – and close to the longest day of the year, giving more opportunity for outdoor leisure pursuits, hopefully in the sunshine.

And Dr Arnall insists people can cheer themselves up on any day of the year, by focusing on things they can change. He suggests people can use Blue Monday as the starting point for making an improvement, whether it is to their health, career, relationships or any other aspect of their life.

“The easiest way to be happy is spending more time with people who love you and like you as you are,” he said.


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