It’s ‘Blue Monday’, the worst day of the year

Many will be particularly down when heading to work this morning. Picture: Getty
Many will be particularly down when heading to work this morning. Picture: Getty
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FEELING down? Join the rest of the country as today has been dubbed “Blue Monday” – the most depressing day of the year.

The anti-climax after Christmas, low motivation and freezing weather conditions are all factors contributing in today being labelled the worst day of 2013.

Add in the lack of natural daylight, concerns about job security and personal debt following a splurge during the festive season, and it’s not surprising people are feeling a bit down.

Psychologist and life coach Cliff Arnall came up with a mathematical formula which pointed to the third Monday in January being the most depressing day of the year. He said: “There’s no dispute about the factors in the formula. If you have to choose a day, the best fit for all these factors is [today]. Things do change every year, but the factors in the formula are relevant regardless of the year.”

Personal financial debt due to increased spending over the Christmas period and in the January sales will be magnified this year because of national debt, he said. “I think people are particularly feeling it now with the austerity measures.”

The formula takes into account factors such as the weather, debt, the time since Christmas, the time since people have failed in their attempts to fulfil a New Year’s resolution and ­general motivational levels.

Although the days are starting to get longer, January is characterised by low dark cloud and cold, wet, sleety conditions.

“The weather is a major issue and also the whole notion that Christmas is well and truly over,” said Arnall. “For many people it’s back to the grind of going to work. Mornings are dark, it’s wet and cold. These all contribute to this feeling of depression.”

A study by Anglian Home Improvements into the impact of reduced daylight over the winter months, released to correspond with Blue Monday, found that the vast majority of us feel it has a negative effect on our ­wellbeing.

Residents in the north-east were worst affected with 87 per cent saying the reduction in daylight over the winter months has a negative impact on their mood, compared to 72 per cent in the south-west and 79 per cent nationally.

The third week in January is the time when the positive feelings enjoyed over the holidays start to wear off, Arnall says. It is also the time when people start to experience a sense of failure if they haven’t kept to resolutions such as giving up smoking, eating more healthily or doing more exercise.

But it’s not all doom and gloom for Mr Arnall. He believes people should use this day as a springboard to improve their quality of life and their relationships with the people closest to them.

“They should look at the quality of the relationships they have in their life,” he said. “The second thing I would suggest is to look at how they want the rest of the year to go. I would encourage them to ask themselves what things they can do or stop doing that would be more in tune to who they are.”

Marie Donohue, emeritus professor of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh, said: “I think people can feel depressed at this time of year because January is not a very good month.

“People have had the high of Christmas and New Year and there is a feeling of anti-climax. They may have overspent in order to have a nice Christmas and now they are thinking about the cost of it all. People have nothing to look forward to.”