Blue Monday 2023: Why the saddest day of the year is a myth, who invented it, and what's Brew Monday?

Every year we’re told that one day is the most miserable of the year – here’s why you should ignore it.

January can be a fairly grey and dispiriting month – particularly in Scotland when cold and wet weather tends to quickly follow the excitement, colour and fun of the festive season.

So it’s not surprising that some of us can feel a little glum at this time of year, but is any day really worse than any other?

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Some think so, and have even given it a snappy and memorable name.

Here's everything you need to know about a marketing idea that snowballed.

What and when is Blue Monday?

As well as being a hit song by British rock band New Order, Blue Monday is the name given to the third Monday of January each year.

According to some, it’s the most miserable day of the year and often receives a large amount of media attention, as well as featuring in numerous advertising campaigns.

Everything you need to know about Blue Monday – and why it’s a myth

This year it falls on Monday, January 16.

Where did the idea of Blue Monday come from?

The day was reportedly invented by psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2005 after travel company Sky Travel asked him to come up with a scientific equation to work out when the January blues - the time after the festive season when the weather is miserable and the days are short – would peak.

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Factors he looked at to arrive at the exact date included the weather, the distance from Christmas, festive debt and people failing their New Year's resolutions.

Why is it nonsense?

Essentially Blue Monday was dreamed up as a way to flog package holidays when people are feeling gloomy – with this background it’s perhaps not surprising that it should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Since being established in 2005, multiple researchers have concluded that to say that one particular day is most depressing for everybody is simply not true.

And writer Ben Goldacre – best known for debunking science myths in his book Bad Science – revealed in the Guardian that he had discovered the Blue Monday press release was actually written by a PR company who then offered money to academics to put their name to it.

Mental health charities have also spoken out, saying that identifying one day can be counterproductive for those struggling with their mental health.

Danielle Rowley, Influencing Manager at Samaritans Scotland, said: “At Samaritans, we know there’s no such thing as ‘Blue Monday’. We all have our good days and our bad days, these aren’t for the calendar to decide.

“Our dedicated listening volunteers all over Scotland are consistently busy 24/7, 365 days a year, picking up a call for help every 10 seconds."

What’s Brew Monday?

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Brew Monday is an event organised by The Samaritans which aims to start conversations over a cup of tea – or other drink – and raise cash for the emotional support charity

They are calling on people host their own Brew Monday event, virtually or in person, by organising a tea party, host an online Brew Monday at work, or even just picking up the phone and checking in with someone they care about.

If you need help with a Brew Monday fundraising event, email community&[email protected] or fill in this online form.

Samaritans Scotland will be hosting a Brew Monday event at Glasgow Central Station on Monday, January 16, in a bid to dispel the myth of ‘Blue Monday’.

They have teamed up with Scotland's Railway and volunteers and staff will be on hand from 8am to 2pm offering tea, coffee and biscuits to commuters and passers-by.

AG Barr has kindly donated cans of Irn Bru for the event, meaning visitors can toast ‘Bru Monday’ too, while there will also be a selection of sweet treats thanks to Lees of Scotland.

Where can you go if you need help?

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There are plenty of charities in Scotland that can give assistance to those struggling with their mental health.

Give the Samaritans Scotland a call on 116 123 for free, day or night, 365 days a year.

Or contact the Scottish Association For Mental Health (SAMH) on 0344 800 0550 or email at [email protected]

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