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Blue Monday

Blue Monday is a day in January—usually the third Monday of the month—that was said to be the "most depressing day of the year" according to Cliff Arnall, a psychologist, who wrote the Blue Monday press release for UK travel company Sky Travel in 2005. Arnall, who at the time was a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University in Cardiff, Wales, came up with a few formulas to determine when Blue Monday would take place. The original one used these factors: weather (W), debt (D), monthly salary (d), time since Christmas (T), time since the failure of New Year's resolutions (Q), low levels of motivation (M), and the feeling of a need to take action (Na).

It looked like this:

(W + D - d) x T^Q
     M x Na

The formula isn't scientific and doesn't make sense for several reasons, such as a lack of explanation about the weather and low motivation levels. It also isn't mathematically sound. While it may seem likely that people would be less happy during colder, darker months, there is no evidence that people are less happy on Blue Monday than any other day of the year.

Arnall had developed the formula for Sky Travel in order to "analyze when people book holidays and holiday trends." Essentially, Blue Monday is supposed to be the day when people are at their lowest and are thus most likely to try to make themselves feel better by booking a vacation, often to a place warm and sunny, giving them something to work towards and look forward to. So, Blue Monday originally was a holiday designed for booking a vacation. Since climate and weather conditions were taken into account in determining when the holiday is held, the January observance only applies to the Northern Hemisphere.

In 2018, Arnall said that it was "never his intention to make the day sound negative," and that his real intention was "to inspire people to take action and make bold life decisions." He continued: "Whether embarking on a new career, meeting new friends, taking up a new hobby or booking a new adventure, January is actually a great time to make those big decisions for the year ahead." That year, he also paired up with Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays to "challenge some of the negative news associated with January and to debunk the melancholic mind-set of 'Blue Monday'." So, the holiday shifted from being about sadness and booking a vacation to exploring the possibilities of a new year.

How to Observe Blue Monday

  • Plan a vacation or buy a plane ticket for a vacation. A warm, sunny destination is ideal.
  • Take steps to improve your mental health. Exercise, volunteer, get an adequate amount of sleep, eat a balanced diet, connect with a therapist, spend time in nature, spend time with friends, read, meditate, and take time to relax. The day is an ideal time to talk about depression and anxiety and what can be done about it.
  • Make a big life decision and explore new possibilities. Take the leap to embark on a new career, meet new people, ask someone out, or buy a home. There's no limit to what you can try and what you can accomplish!

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