If you feel a bit downtrodden today, you’re not alone. According to a rather dubious calculation by a British psychologist, January 15 is the most depressing day of 2018.
Blue Monday, as it is known, falls on the third Monday of every year and is thought to be the most discouraging because the joy of the Christmas season has worn off and it’s back to reality with work, school, chores and post-holiday debt for many people.
The concept of Blue Monday was born from the mind of Dr Cliff Arnall, a lecturer and ‘freelance happiness guru’ from South Wales, who developed a formula to predict the most miserable day of the year as part of a PR stunt for a British media agency.
He based his calculation on a complex series of assumptions and ended up with this: [W + (D-d)] x Tq ÷ [M x Na]. Simple, right?
According to Dr Arnall the ‘W’ is meant to stand for weather, the ‘D’ is for debt, the ‘d’ is for monthly salary, the ‘T’ represents the time since Christmas, the ‘q’ is the period since we’ve broken our New Year’s resolutions, the ‘M’ is for motivational levels and the ‘Na’ represents the feeling of a need to take action.
The general aim of the equation is to calculate whether the good things in your life outweighs the bad at any given moment.
Psychologists are, however, unconvinced the equation has any real merit. Jolanta Burke an academic at the University of East London says Blue Monday can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if we are not careful.
“When we hold some expectations about an event, people, or ourselves, we start behaving in a way that matches our expectations,” Burke wrote in The Conversation.
“For example, thinking it’s the most depressing day of the year, we might start paying more attention to the negative events around us — the boss who doesn’t listen to our good advice, or the partner who isn’t doing enough around the house.”
“While there is no scientific evidence of Blue Monday on the third Monday of January — or any other Monday in a year — research shows us that, unsurprisingly, our mood is significantly better on Fridays and over the weekend in general.” she added.
Burke attributes this to an increase in sleep and “me time”. Burke recommends trying to think of the positives on ‘Blue Monday’.
“Since Blue Monday is a hoax that may affect our thinking and emotions so much, let’s turn it into Happy Monday and reap the benefits.” she said.
“Instead of searching for all that is going badly on the day, be mindful of all the good things that happen around you — that woman who held the bus door to prevent it from closing, the old lady who smiled at you for no reason or the little boy who gave you a big hug.”