'Blue Monday': Is A Monday In January Really The Most Depressing Day Of The Year?

SoundDust

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Misery is expected to peak on Monday, as 24 January has been pinpointed as the worst day of the year.

January has been long regarded as the darkest of months, but a formula from a part-time tutor at Cardiff University shows it gets even worse this Monday.

Foul weather, debt, fading Christmas memories, failed resolutions and a lack of motivation conspire to depress, Cliff Arnalls found.

GPs say exercise and reading up on depression are ways to beat the blues.

"Yes, we do see lots of people with depression and anxiety in the winter months.

"The message is it's not a terrible disorder, people do get better," Royal College of General Practictioners spokesman Dr Alan Cohen said.


JANUARY BLUES DAY FORMULA
1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA. Where:
W: Weather
D: Debt
d: Money due in January pay
T: Time since Christmas
Q: Time since failed quit attempt
M: General motivational levels
NA: The need to take action

"Exercise and bibliotherapy - reading a number of books to allow people to understand their own symptoms and how to control them," were initial treatments, he said.

The formula for the day of misery reads 1/8W+(D-d) 3/8xTQ MxNA.

Where W is weather, D is debt - minus the money (d) due on January's pay day - and T is the time since Christmas.

Q is the period since the failure to quit a bad habit, M stands for general motivational levels and NA is the need to take action and do something about it.

GPs say exercise will boost spirits

Dr Arnalls calculated the effects of cold, wet and dark January weather after the cosiness of Christmas coupled with extra spending in the sales.

He found 24 January was especially dangerous, coming a whole month after Christmas festivities.

Any energy from the holiday had worn off by the third week of January, he said.

By Monday, most people will have fallen off the wagon or abandoned the nicotine patches as they fail to keep New Year's resolutions.

That compounds a sense of failure and knocks confidence needed to get through January.

The fact that the most depressing day fell on a Monday was not planned but a coincidence, he said.
 
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#2
The most depressing day of the year: 24th Jan

It must be so because a scientist has made a complciated formula to "prove" it ;)

Jan. 24 called worst day of the year

British psychologist calculates ‘most depressing day’



By Jennifer Carlile
Reporter
MSNBC
Updated: 1:51 a.m. ET Jan. 24, 2005

LONDON - Is the midwinter weather wearing you down? Are you sinking in debt after the holidays? Angry with yourself for already breaking your New Year's resolutions? Wish you could crawl back under the covers and not have to face another day of rain, sleet, snow and paperwork? Probably. After all, it's Jan. 24, the “most depressing day of the year,” according to a U.K. psychologist.

Dr. Cliff Arnall's calculations show that misery peaks Monday.

Arnall, who specializes in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Wales, created a formula that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point.

The model is:

Code:
                  [W + (D-d)] x TQ
                      M x NA
The equation is broken down into seven variables: (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.

‘Reality starts to kick in’

Arnall found that, while days technically get longer after Dec. 21, cyclonic weather systems take hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds to Britain. Meanwhile, the majority of people break their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year, and even the hangers-on have fallen off the wagon, torn off the nicotine patches and eaten the fridge empty by the third week. Any residual dregs of holiday cheer and family fun have kicked the bucket by Jan. 24.

“Following the initial thrill of New Year's celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in,” Arnall said. “The realization coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.”

The formula was devised to help a travel company “analyze when people book holidays and holiday trends,” said Alex Kennedy, spokesperson for Porter Novelli, a London-based PR agency.

It seems that people are most likely to buy a ticket to paradise when they feel like hell.

“People feel bleak when they have nothing planned, but once they book a holiday they have a goal, they work toward having time off and a relaxing period,” Kennedy said.

“When you imagine yourself on the beach it makes you feel positive. You will save money, go to the gym and come back to the optimism you had at the end of 2004,” she said.

In U.K., up to a third get SAD

Research shows an escape to the sun can have real health benefits.

Up to a third of the population, in Britain at least, suffers from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, also known as winter depression, according to MIND, a leading mental health charity in England and Wales. Furthermore, nine out of 10 people report sleeping and eating more during the darker months.

While most cases of the winter blues are not severe, 2 percent to 5 percent of those with SAD cannot function without continuous treatment.

However, it's extremely rare to find anyone with the disorder within 30 degrees of the equator, where days are long and the sky is bright year-round, according to MIND.

Although their findings appear to support a key factor in Arnall's research for Porter Novelli and its client, Sky Travel, the charity warned against overemphasizing the psychologist's claims.

“These types of formulae, if anything, probably serve to oversimplify the complexities of real-life experience,” a spokesperson said on customary condition of anonymity.

Others in the medical field were less skeptical.

“I’m sure it's right,” said Dr. Alan Cohen, spokesperson for the Royal College of General Practitioners, referring to Arnall's equation.

However, “it is postulated that there are a number of different causes of depression,” he said.

“It may be something about one’s personality, genes or external events. For those who suffer from external events, [Jan. 24] would be the most depressing day,” Cohen said.

While travel companies hope to turn gloom into gold this date, for those unable to book a last-minute tropical getaway, Arnall might want to consider a formula for the “happiest day of the year.”

---------------------
© 2005 MSNBC Interactive
Source
 

Timble2

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#3
I think the formula is just possibly a bit tongue in check, but I think he's right. Tuesday the 25th isn't a vast improvement.
 

Leaferne

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We had our Tigger cat put to sleep yesterday, one week after my Sam died. It's been a pretty craptacular month. :(

I must say, though, that reports like this just become self-fulfilling. The news stations have been chewing on this one overmuch IMHO.
 

SoundDust

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from Private Eye #1125 (can't find a link online, so I've copied it straight from the mag):

Countless column inches were given over last week to the story of the part-time tutor at Cardiff university who had "calculated" that Monday 24th January would be the most depressing day of the year.

While it was a diverting space-filler on a slow news day, the timing and source of this bombshell received much less prominence. Step forward Sky TV publicity department, which in a bid to drum up ratings for the Sky Travel channel, originally comissioned Cliff Arnalls to dream up the spurious misery equation, which it then disseminated to the media.

Sjy's thinking was that with this time of year being so dank and depressin, people nmight feel inclined to get away from it all - and tune into Sky travel. This made it highly unlikely that Arnalls would have proclaimed, say, 12 October to be the cruellest day, as Sky Travel wanted the publicity push now. Conveniently Arnalls' calculations came up with January. Luckily, the nation's media were only too happy to oblige.
 

SoundDust

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It's just been on the radio that the guy who said that 24th January is the saddest day of the year has suggested that today is the happiest day of the year. Can't find a link online at the moment
 

PeteS

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#10
It doesn't exist. Made up by Sky Travel in 2005, and based on shonky data.

I know this as we were about to run a campaign on it at work until my wicked Google skillz stopped it in its tracks.
It might not exist "officially" but a retired counsellor friend of mine always said that on 15th January every year she would get a massive influx of referrals for depression and or marriage issues.
 

Carse

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#14
November to February is the peak suicide season on the railways in the UK, it's a well known phenomenon among rail staff. I think we're already in double figures nationally this month. I can post the official stats if anyone is interested.
 

PeteS

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The 15th January could be any day of the week though...we could have 'Blue 15th'.
Yep quite right. My friend came to the conclusion that people put on a brave face through Christmas and New Year and then reality set back in and it took a couple of weeks to summon up the courage to do something about it. Sad really.
 

EnolaGaia

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Yep quite right. My friend came to the conclusion that people put on a brave face through Christmas and New Year and then reality set back in and it took a couple of weeks to summon up the courage to do something about it. Sad really.
To make matters worse, the credit card (etc.) bills for the holidaze over-spending will have arrived by mid-January ...

:cshock:
 

escargot

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#17
'Blue Monday' is when it's dark and cold and the bills come in, and everyone is miserable.
Nearly every Monday in January has held the title. It's a gloomy time of the year.

Here's the Awareness Days calendar page on it -
Blue Monday

The third Monday of January has been awarded the gloomy title due to a combination of post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills.

Apparently, a university professor managed to precisely calculate the most depressing day of the year, using the following formula:


This learned exercise was actually a publicity stunt for a travel company.

So, is there really such a universally sad Monday in January?
 

EnolaGaia

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JamesWhitehead

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#20
I do know that January usually means four solid weeks of work, unrelieved by statutary holidays*. Schools may start the term with an INSET day for staff.

*For those of us who get paid only for the days we work, this ought to be less depressing than the long summer holiday! :glum:
 

Kryptonite

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#23
Blue Monday this year is apparently the 20th of January, and my work have decided to have some light- hearted events to counteract this.

When I told people that this would be happening, most of them said they had never heard of Blue Monday and needed it explained.

About 20 minutes later, more than a few of them had descended into misery and were authoritatively talking about what a grim day Blue Monday was!

Its like people saw an opportunity to indulge in some self-pity and grabbed it with both hands.
 
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#25
Though the formula for blue Monday is pretty much just convenient nonsense, there's some real factors that make January depressing. It does tend to be one of the darkest months in the UK, suicide rates climb in January, the return to work after so-called 'holidays' that actually are often quite stressful and demanding for some people: it is no wonder that the national mood declines.

But there's a lot of culturally self-inflicted damage too. The tradition of New Year's resolutions has always seemed perverse to me. January has got to be one of the worst months to undertake a diet or any kind of abstinence really. It is cold, dark and damp. The body is calling out for filling, tasty food. Daft to try and fight biological urges as well as habit at the same time. Save your diet and extra exercise for March, when the day length should be help.

The late autumn-midwinter cultural obsession with spending, encouraged by cynical marketing, is also a huge negative. I find most companies have become very lazy in recent years. They know the tat they try and push on people will be bought anyway especially in our time-poor society. I must admit that I find it somewhat difficult to get gifts for people but I realized in recent years that there are two factors affecting my ability to buy gifts: lack of knowledge about what the intended recipient would actually want combined with a sense of duty to get gifts for people, some of whom I truly wonder why I have been buying gifts for as I never see them and haven't for years.

I consider myself quite resistant to marketing messages but clearly at some point some of these messages have managed to penetrate my psyche. I therefore am not all that surprised at the scale of overspending that I know some others do. Culturally I think we need to step back and consider the point of giving all these gifts, especially lazy ones like chocolates. If it is genuinely the case that people don't need anything then a gift should be something completely different like spending time with the person. If people didn't overspend at Christmas then January might not be so difficult for so many people.
I say that this has to be at a cultural level because as the traditional cultural aspects of Christmas have faded away the shopping and spending has become the cultural norm. Many people will feel greatly pressured to conform to that norm so it really is becoming a cultural crisis, I think.
 
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