Blue Monday: The most depressing day of the year?

Most of us are feeling the January blues right about now, but tomorrow is reputedly the day when it's at its worst.

Sunday, 14th January 2018, 7:00 am
Blue Monday.


The third Monday of January is the most miserable day of the year when many are back at work after Christmas holidays.

The date of Blue Monday is calculated based on an equation which assesses the weather, personal debt, motivational levels and time since the Christmas holidays.

January is also when British people are at their loneliest, with 26 per cent claiming it is the month they feel the most isolated, according to research from Co-op.


Cardiff University psychology teacher Dr Cliff Arnall has the dubious honour of being the creator of Blue Monday.

Dr Arnall created a mathematical equation which showed that the third Monday of January had the highest depression score of any date of the year. But the science behind Dr Arnall’s formula is questionable at best.

In the equation W is weather, D is debt, d is monthly salary, T is the time passed since Christmas, Q is the time since the failure of an attempt to give something up, M is low motivational level and Na is the need to take action. Sounds plausible but there are two major problems with the ‘science’ behind the depressing equation.

Firstly Dr Arnall never specified what the units of measurement were – so nobody really knows how the equation would work in practice. More significantly the formula was put together in partnership with Sky Travel (who no longer operate), to make people feel like their mood was low and guess what was their solution? Book a holiday!


According to commentators, Blue Monday leaves its sufferers feeling down or, in some cases, depressed. Although ‘divorce day’ (yes, there is a ‘divorce day’) is behind us, calling for an end to a marriage and relationship breakdowns are common throughout January.

The typically poor January weather also leaves many workers with low motivation.


The best thing you can do about Blue Monday? Ignore it!

But for those suffering from genuine depression, Blue Monday is an everyday occurrence. By suggesting that the condition is temporary it disrespects those who are actually experiencing the chronic and debilitating condition.

If you are feeling blue, try some exercise as endorphins released during will make you feel better about yourself. Eat some endorphin-releasing food like bananas or something sugary to keep your energy levels up.

Try meditating – it’s not for everyone but even taking deep breaths, relaxing or taking a bath can keep you calm.

Petting an animal is known to relieve stress and increase happiness through the release of oxytocin – the feel-good hormone.