It’s a fact of life that every Monday which rolls around has the credentials to be the most depressing day of the year. No matter how good a weekend you’ve had, when the alarm on your phone blasts out its tune, you know the party’s over. Instead of spending the day sitting in your underwear eating takeout, you’re going to be at work struggling through Linda’s PowerPoint presentation.
But on the third Monday of January, something feels a little different. Is it the torrential rain outside? Is a dreaded two-day hangover? Is it the fact that you’re probably going to have to eat 10p noodles for lunch for the rest of the week until payday?
The truth of it all is that you’re simply another victim of Blue Monday, acknowledged as the most depressing day of the year in Britain.
But the question is, why? There are surely loads of depressing days in the calendar, right? So what makes this one nationally acknowledged? What about the day you do your taxes? When smug married couples bring you down on Valentines Day? When the holiday blues hit after a week on the sun-kissed beaches of the Bahamas?
Despite your best efforts, if you thought these scenarios were worse, according to the experts, you’d be wrong. You see, Blue Monday is specifically calculated using a series of factors which combine to make it the worst day of the year imaginable.
Firstly, and perhaps most obviously, is the fact that Christmas has been and gone and now you have to wait a whole 49 weeks for the next pinch of seasonal joy. That’s right, it’s just hit you that the holiday season is officially over and all you’re left with is a bulge around the waist and an inherent sense of shame about just how plastered you were on the day.
Collateral damage from Christmas is present in other ways too, namely in the form of our drained bank accounts. Apparently, on the third Monday of January, debt levels are sky-high and this is the day of the year that we are least able to dig deep into our back pockets and pay up.
In addition, despite our good intentions, this particular Monday is the time that we’ve finally admitted to ourselves that we’re not going to give up smoking, we’re not going to join that salsa class and we’re most definitely not going to stop going to McDonald’s – because Big Macs are life.
Basically, by bringing together the weather, debt level (specifically, the difference between debt and our ability to pay), the amount of time until Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and a need to take charge of the situation, Brits are left with the most depressing day of the year.
Sky Travel were the first to peg these 24 hours in particular as the most miserable on the calendar. In 2005, they put out a press release announcing their epiphany to the world and suggesting that we make that hellish third Monday in January a little happier by booking a ticket to paradise. Is it me, or can you smell something fishy here?
However, according to Dr Cliff Arnall’s calculations, Blue Monday carries more weight than we give it credit for. Arnall, who previously specialised in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff in Wales, created a formula that takes all the factors into account to devise mankind’s lowest point of the year and, surprise, surprise, came up with the third Monday in January.
Arnall found that, although the days technically get longer after December 21, cyclonic weather systems take hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds to the UK. Meanwhile, the majority of people give up on their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year and by the time the third week hits, even those with willpower are being dragged on the ground behind the wagon about to give up at any moment. In addition, any residual last dregs of holiday cheer have met their maker by January 24.
For any budding mathematicians out there, the exact formula looks like this: [W+(D-d)]xTQ/MxNA
(W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.
Arnall spoke of his equation, claiming that it makes perfect sense: “Following the initial thrill of New Year’s celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in. The realisation coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.”
Yet it’s no surprise that his findings have been heavily criticised by scientists, who describe his work as “nonsensical” and claim his measurements “fail even to make mathematical sense on their own terms”. Many of them dismiss his claims as being pseudoscience.
It’s even less of a shock though, to hear that plenty of companies have used the term “Blue Monday” as a way to sell bottled happiness in the form of food, cars, holidays and other superficial forms of joy. Who says money can’t buy you happiness, eh?
So, honestly, what exactly is this Blue Monday palava about? Is it a monster moneymaking PR stunt or do all of us Brits honestly feel down in the dumps every year when the clock strikes midnight on the third Monday of January?
The truth is, who knows. As disgustingly cheesy as it sounds, life is what you make it – and cowering under the covers, gently rocking yourself in the fetal position probably isn’t an ideal way to spend the day. Personally, I recommend a Netflix account and a shedload of pizza to go along with it.