Today is supposedly “Blue Monday” the “scientifically determined” most depressing day of the year.
On the third Monday of every January, the media conspire to tell us today is the worst of all 365 days of the year due to a formula put together by some egg head that calculates debt X motivation X weather ÷ time to payday = Blueness.
The only problem with the whole thing is it’s pure balderdash.
Blue Monday was invented by a British travel company, Sky Travel, in 2005, to flog holidays.
The company hired a university lecturer called Dr Cliff Arnall to identify the most miserable date in the calendar in order to promote their firm on the premise that people are most likely to buy a ticket to paradise when they feel like hell.
Dr Arnall, who at the time taught psychology related evening classes at Cardiff University, is even on record as saying people should ignore his most famous work.
In a press release from 2010 he explained:
“I was originally asked to come up with what I thought was the best day to book a summer holiday.
“But when I started thinking about the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what thousands had told me during stress management or happiness workshops, there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing.
“But it is not particularly helpful to put that out there and say ‘there you are’ … it is almost a self-fulfilling prophecy that it is the most depressing day.
“Despite criticism of my decision, I have no regrets.”
Mr Arnall, a member of the British Society of Clinical and Academic Hypnosis, was also paid by Wall’s ice cream to identify the happiest day of the year in another campaign and the date he identified was the third Friday in June.
There are many reasons why someone may feel down during January and a lot of mental health charities think that Blue Monday trivialises mental health issues
True clinical depression is a much more complex condition that is affected by many factors, chronic and temporary, internal and external.
What is extremely unlikely is that there is a reliable set of external factors that cause depression in an entire population at the same time every year.
Mental Health Ireland has some tips for anyone who is feeling low.
“It’s been suggested this particular day is the most depressing of the year.
“However, research shows that it’s not the actual day that gets people down and makes them feel gloomy but simply the shorter days and less sunlight we have in January and throughout the winter months.
“If people do find themselves feeling low during the winter months, there are a number of steps that they can take to improve how they feel:
- Eat well
- Be sociable
- Join an interest/activity group
- Set realistic goals
- Get professional help