Therefore, yesterday I was a little dismayed to find that the media are rubbing salt into the Monday-induced wounds by telling us that, by being the third Monday in January, there was an even bigger cloud hanging over it than the average first day in the week. In 2005, writing a press release for Sky Travel, (a TV channel which closed back in 2010), psychologist Cliff Arnall first mooted the idea that the third Monday in January was the most depressing day of the year.
Arnall even concocted a scientific equation to ‘prove’ that the third Monday in January should be considered ‘Blue Monday.’ This was based on the length of time until next Christmas, holiday debt and the likelihood of giving up New Year’s resolutions. The equation also considers the ‘hibernation’ effect as the cold, dark nights during the middle of January is often a time of year when people feel tired, stay indoors and eat comfort food.
To add yet more woe to an already melancholy day, experts have said the added effect of economic gloom that is here to stay for the rest of 2013 could mean that yesterday was one of the most depressing Blue Mondays ever to have existed. That’s if we’re assuming Blue Mondays are ranked in order of depressiveness, though I’m not sure Arnall got that far in his theory.
I can fully understand that the nasty cocktail of lack of money, long nights and the perception that there’s nothing to look forward to can make people feel more gloomy than usual around this time of year. But I think focusing the sentiment on just one headline-grabbing day fundamentally misses the point.
There are increasing numbers of unfortunate people who don’t all of a sudden cheer up when the holidays get closer and the weather gets warmer. Mental Health charity Anxiety UK has described Blue Monday as a PR stunt which belittles important mental health issues and, “undermines the work of thousands of volunteers working with sufferers across the country and does nothing to reduce the stigma attached to such conditions.”
Even Cliff Arnall himself has since agreed that the idea of a single most depressing day was “not particularly helpful.” Depression is a serious issue all year round and can’t just be trivialised into one day. Especially a day which allows Topshop to invite people to “banish those blues” by buying more of their clothes and making the post-Christmas debt even worse.
All I can say is put that purse away, resist the Topshop jeggings and look forward to another day. I can’t say that Tuesday 22nd January 2013 will be any warmer, brighter or more cheerful than the 21st, but I can guarantee that it won’t be unhelpfully branded the most depressing day of the year.