The third Monday of the year is known as ‘Blue Monday’, aka the most depressing day of the year.
It’s supposedly the day when the financial pressure of the Christmas just passed hangs over us most, the weather is at its worst, and the extra pounds we’ve acquired over the holiday season are proving harder to shift than we anticipated, accumulating in the lowest moods of the whole year.
But is the idea rooted in science, and where did it first come from?
Here’s everything you need to know:
What date is Blue Monday?
Blue Monday usually falls on the third Monday of every New Year, which makes it Monday January 17th in 2022.
It’s considered the most “depressing” day on the calendar.
What does Blue Monday mean?
Despite its widespread acceptance among the British public as the saddest or most depressing day of the year, there is no scientific evidence to suggest the third Monday of the year is any more or less depressing than any other day.
In fact, the birth of the idea is shrouded in controversy, and despite usually falling on the third Monday of the year, some outlets report the date as being on the second or fourth Monday of January.
The concept of ‘Blue Monday’ appears to have originated in 2005, in a press release from now defunct holiday company and TV channel Sky Travel, who claimed to have used an equation to calculate the date.
That original press release appeared to have been written by Cliff Arnall, a tutor at Cardiff University’s Centre for Lifelong Learning.
But Guardian writer Ben Goldacre – known for his Bad Science column and series of books – revealed that the press release was sent pre-written by a PR company to a number of academics, who were offered money to put their name to it.
The release claimed Blue Monday was reached by “taking into account various factors” such as average temperature, days since pay day, days until the next bank holiday, average hours of daylight, and so on.
The formula that gives us Blue Monday is apparently C(P+B) N+D, an equation which “allows us to work out the day with the highest 'depression factor' which you can then use as a focus for making things better, booking your holiday etc...”
Clearly, the true purpose of Sky Travel's press release was to sell more holidays.
According to Dr Dean Burnett, a tutor at Cardiff University’s division of psychological medicine and clinical neurosciences, “there are so many reasons to believe [the Blue Monday equation is] nonsense.
“Firstly, the equation wasn’t the result of some psychological study by a reputable lab, but conducted by a travel company, who then fished around for a psychologist to put his name to it, to make it seem credible. It combines things that have no quantifiable way of being combined.”
Despite lending his name to the concept, Arnall himself now campaigns against the idea of Blue Monday on Twitter.
Blue Monday may have begun and continued as a PR stunt, but it has shed light on mental health issues over the years, encouraging people to talk about depression and seek help when they need it.