The truth about Blue Monday

Depressed woman wearing blue denim jacket.

Why all the fuss about Blue Monday?

Since 2005, the third Monday of January is often referred to as Blue Monday, with people being told that it’s the most depressing day of the year.

The reality is that for most of us, it’s not particularly depressing. That’s because depression is a personal issue, which affects us all at different times and in different ways.

How did Blue Monday start?

According to Wikipedia, Blue Monday was the brain child of Cliff Arnall, a psychologist at Cardiff University, who thought up the idea for the UK company Sky Travel, who used it as a way of selling winter holidays.

Persuading people that they’re feeling “blue” in January isn’t particularly hard to do. Mr Arnall’s Blue Monday formula simply highlights a range of factors likely to contribute to low mood at this time of year:

  • Weather (W)
  • Debt (D)
  • Monthly salary (d)
  • Time since Christmas (T)
  • Time since failing our New Year’s resolutions (Q)
  • Low motivational levels (M)
  • The feeling of needing to take action (Na)

Presenting these factors as a scientific formula (see image) gives them a credibility that they would otherwise be unlikely to warrant, while the annual repetition of the idea helps ensure that people are regularly exposed to it.

The formula on which the concept of Blue Monday is based.

Is Blue Monday real?

For some people that exposure might well serve to reinforce their poor mental health and, in their eyes, help to explain it.

However, it’s important to remember that – unlike seasonal affective depression – Blue Monday isn’t real.

Although you might well be feeling depressed at the time, the truth is that Blue Monday is just a marketing idea dreamed up to sell holidays – and, increasingly, is being used to promote other commercial opportunities.

In reality, poor mental wellbeing is something that can affect all of us at any time and we should be thinking about how to encourage better mental health every day of the year.

As the Mental Health Foundation point out: “it is also important to distinguish between temporarily feeling down, which we all relate to from time to time, and experiencing depression or a mental health problem that can be quite disabling for our day-to-day lives.”

Help is at hand

As a professional psychotherapist, my specialist areas are recurrent anxiety, depression, relationship problems, abuse, self-harm, past and recent trauma, and self-esteem.

Passionate about emotional wellbeing and mental health, I offer specialised services which improve both mental health and emotional wellbeing and which help my clients enjoy life to the full.

If you’re experiencing mental health issues, please get in touch to book a consultation with me face-to-face in Chester, Heswall, Mold or online via Zoom.