So where did this notion come from? It’s medically proven, there is even a formula. Well no, the truth is it was a PR stunt for a now defunct travel company that has in just a few short years seeped into our national consciousness. The idea, I imagine was to stimulate holiday bookings just when we have the post-Christmas blues.
As PR stunts go it has been pretty effective in gaining media attention, although the brand it set out to promote has fared less well. This evidence for the date being the most depressing day of the year was first published in 2005 in a press release for the Sky Travel Channel under the name of Cliff Arnall of Cardiff University. Well sort of… Cliff was at the time a part-time tutor at a Further Education centre attached to the University. There is even a scientific formula: ([W + (D-d)] x TQ) ÷ (M x Na) where weather is W, D is the ability to pay, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions is Q, motivational levels are defined as M and the feeling of a need to take action is Na. Clearly cod science.
Over the years commentators like Petra Boynton and Dr Ben Goldacre have got hot under the collar about Blue Monday and have given a red flag to the daft mathematical formula. It has however has morphed into a bit of media fun that we needn’t get down about. The fact that the formula predicted that the saddest day of the year was a Monday was claimed as a coincidence by Cliff Arnall in 2005 but the Blue Monday moniker it too tempting to resist and a Monday it has been for seven consecutive years.
The appetite for the story is apparent enough; January is a gloomy month and we all want confirmation that we’ve passed the nadir and are back on the way up. Moreover with the demise of Sky Travel it has been used on successive occasions to promote awareness of mental health issues. That’s not such a bad thing. So chin up, it might never happen.