Blue Monday

As your social media feed is likely telling you, today is #BlueMonday

So, what is it?

Well, if you buy into the rhetoric, it is allegedly the most depressing day of the year.

Rhetoric? Allegedly? 

Well, when I sat down to write this blog, I had heard of the day and assumed I’d be writing about mental health and resilience.

I’m glad I did some due diligence before putting fingers to keyboard!

Psychologist, Cliff Arnall, came up with the concept of Blue Monday in 2004, when he created the formula for the January blues.

The formula, which is based on the main factors that are most likely to contribute to low mood, is:

These are the factors in the calculation:

W = Weather
D = Debt
d = Monthly salary
T = Time since Christmas
Q = Time since failing our new year’s resolutions
M = Low motivational levels
Na = The feeling of a need to act

It’s called Blue Monday because it’s the time of year when we are supposedly feeling most blue and at our lowest.

It’s at the time of year when we’re thought to be susceptible to feeling down because the weather’s cold, we’re back at work, we’ve got to pay our Christmas credit card bills and we’re feeling bad for breaking our New Year’s Resolutions already.

So, there you go. The most depressing day of the year. Because… Science??

Well, actually… No.

Pseudoscience underpins Blue Monday, which basically means it’s not scientifically true. Furthermore – and with my marketing hat on- I smirk a little when I share this…

The calculation was carried out by Cliff for travel company, Sky Travel, who then went on to use the concept to promote their winter deals.


“Blue Monday – you’re really low and sad, yeah? Book a holiday! It’ll solve all your problems!”

While Blue Monday’s science had been debunked, thanks to the media (social and otherwise), it can be difficult not to feel anything but blue on this day due to the widespread association with it.

Blue Monday just so happens to have stuck in people’s minds and has been used by companies for marketing purposes ever since the phrase was first coined 18 years ago!

Cliff’s Blue Monday calculation are real-life factors impacting how we feel. The weather is different in January can be yucky, New Year’s Resolutions do crumble quickly, motivation levels can be low, and a Christmas financial hangover isn’t unusual.

Essentially, a clever marketeer has played an absolute blinder – their campaign has turned into an accepted ‘truth’.

So, a very simple lesson emerged for me from all this – and feels very apt in our post-Pandemic world with sophistry everywhere… Adopt critical thinking!

Can you think of any other examples like this, particularly if you’ve been sucked in before? Let us know what you think. 

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