Blue Monday – What Is It? – The Myth & Reality

Monday the 16th of January 2023 is known as Blue Monday Day

Blue Monday is known as the most ‘depressing day of the year’ and occurs mid January every year. It is based on an equation that takes numerous factors into account and the equation calculates that the 3rd Monday in January is ‘Blue Monday’.

The 3 main factors it uses are: firstly; the weather, secondly; debt level and thirdly; motivation levels.  The time of year is dark, wet, cold and gloomy.  Reality of bills and debt levels sink in, as some people spend beyond their means prior to Christmas.  New Years resolutions gradually fall away and motivation becomes low; you want to change but, you don’t. 

There are some other similar and smaller factors, and together this ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of depression is what we occurs and reaches its peak on one day in the year. It occurs on the 4th Monday after Christmas.

This calculation was announced by Sky Travel as a press release in 2005 and it was based on some research done by a tutor by the name of Cliff Arnall.   It has largely been ‘debunked’ by scientists and was picked up on and used as marketing tool to drive ‘holiday bookings’.  Since 2005, scientists have examined the formula, claims and conclusions – almost everyone has said it does not have any substance as mathematical formula. Blue Monday is seen, by many, as a myth.

Therefore, what is the reality?

The reality is that there is a trifold of circumstances that play a part in our wellbeing and mental outlook that all occur around this time of year.

Firstly, there is the affect of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), it is thought to affect more than 2 million people in the UK alone.  It is a seasonal depression that usually occurs during winter.  People feel lower, depressed, lethargic, unsociable more so than at other times of the year.

Secondly, research found that the average person gets into debt to the sum of £439 over Christmas and this takes the average person 4 months to get their finances back in shape. The repayments start in January the reality of owing starts to hit.

Thirdly, figures show that anywhere from up to 80% of all New Year’s resolutions have failed by February.  That means a lot of people who wanted to change, wished for something different to happen. They’ve seen the good intentions gradually drift away from their grasp and control.

In addition, many suffer a lower immunity with colds, feeling run down and lacking energy (not necessary SAD related). You may have had this yourself and shared the news with another and had the response “there’s a lot of it going around” (a standard reply)!

Whilst there is no evidence for a specific day being ‘the most depressing day of the year’ there are statistical factors that point to this time of year having a negative impact on a sizeable number of people.  Therefore, is this Monday the 16th the most depressing day of the year – one we call Blue Monday?  No.  Is this time of year a challenge for many people, yes.

Nigel Singer from the Wellness Within Spa Club said:

“There seems to be correlation between those who are affected by seasonal depression and lethargy, those who tend to spend more they can afford and those who set goals and fail. There are common factors involved and depression, spending levels and target failures can all be interlinked. 

Whilst we don’t believe in Blue Monday, we do believe in supporting those affected by this seasonal low and have created a support pack to help those struggling to get back in control.

A simple remedy is to get a small regular walk in on a frequent basis. If you can access green space, even better. This allows you to get some fresh air, some perspective and it gradually increases your energy levels. It is also a great time to contemplate and makes it easier to find the answers you seek.”

As physiotherapist and StEP director Adri Hartveld explains:

The cold weather might not be very inviting in January. However, everyone will benefit from a break from work and go from a walk outside. Walking outdoors elevates your mood, and much more.

At Wellness Within we like to support people and have made a free ‘Beat Blue Monday’ pack – it is simply called ‘Beat The Blues’. It covers some practical advice, tips, hints and suggestions to help you tackle seasonal depression, face up to debt and support you in setting goals that are attainable.

Now a resource with great outdoor exercise benefits is at StEP (Sustainable Exercise Partnership) and the link is HERE – have a look and be encouraged to exercise outdoors.

Please share & spread the news.

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