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When Is Blue Monday 2022 and Why Is It Known As the Most Depressing Day of the Year?

Newsweek logo Newsweek 1/16/2022 Tom Fish

We all have our off-days, but one notorious date in our calendars in particular has been singled out as the worst of all on aggregate.

Blue Monday is considered to be the most depressing day of the year, but some people may be confused whether this label is real or just pseudoscience.

There are claims around this time of year that this specific day commonly coincides with the arrival of some of the year's toughest psychological challenges.

Issues can include a combination of particularly bleak winter weather, the post-Christmas comedown and being wracked with guilt over yet more failed New Year's resolutions.

And, additionally, people have over the past two years witnessed the trauma of dealing with the concerns about COVID-19's effects on physical and mental health.

As with every year, Blue Monday rolls around every year on the first month's third Monday, meaning in 2022 it is said to arrive on January 17.

However, is this specific time of the year really something people should take notice of?

Blue Monday Debunked

There is no need for alarm as you should not actually expect to feel kind of blue on January 17, 2022.

The idea of Blue Monday was first coined in 2004 by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, who Newsweek has contacted for comment.

Arnall devised an unscientific "formula" for the January blues when commissioned by Sky Travel, who proceeded to include the phrase in a press release promoting the travel firm's winter deals.

The lighthearted hypothesis took into account a range of factors likely to contribute to low mood and reads:

[W + (D - d)] X TQ / M x Na

  • W = weather
  • D = debt
  • d = monthly salary
  • T = time since Christmas
  • Q = time since failing our new year's resolutions
  • M = low motivational levels
  • Na = the feeling of a need to take action

These arbitrary variables are widely considered not only impossible to quantify but also mainly incompatible.

Arnall told British newspaper The Daily Telegraph in 2013: "I was originally asked to come up with what I thought was the best day to book a summer holiday but when I started thinking about the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what thousands had told me during stress management or happiness workshops, there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing.

"But it is not particularly helpful to put that out there and say 'there you are'."

One of Arnall's university colleagues, Dr. Dean Burnett, went much further in his criticism, telling Newsweek the concept, despite its attractions, is "scientifically nonsensical and potentially harmful."

He said: "If you know anything about psychology, mental health, or just the workings of the real world, Blue Monday makes absolutely no sense, even as a basic concept.

"And yet for many years it's been covered in the media as if it's an established fact. I suspect a lot of this is down to the fact that it focuses on a particularly quiet time of year in terms of news coverage (the few weeks after Christmas), and also presents a fairly straightforward and headline-friendly concept for those who have pages to fill.

"Also, to many people, it will 'feel right'. The winter weeks after Christmas invariably are a relatively miserable time due to the bad weather, festively-drained finances, no occasions to celebrate, everyone trying to diet, and so on.

"Telling the typical person that the most depressing day of the year occurs during this period will feel like confirming what they already suspect, and people like to hear things that support their existing beliefs."

"So, while it's scientifically nonsensical and potentially harmful in the way it misleads about mental health and depression, in terms of how it exploits how people think and feel, Blue Monday is technically successful."

But while Blue Monday has been comprehensibly debunked, it should not be confused with a similar-sounding, but very real phenomenon.

There is a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression capable of manifesting in certain seasons.

And regardless of the time of year, many people can feel despondent or depressed and the most constructive step is to seek help.

This can involve simply speaking to a friend about concerns, or using one of the many mental health charities like Mental Health America or Samaritans USA, which are dedicated to offering advice and understanding to people struggling with their mental health.

Blue Monday rolls around every year on the first month's third Monday, meaning in 2022 it is said to arrive on January 17 Dani DG/Getty Images © Dani DG/Getty Images Blue Monday rolls around every year on the first month's third Monday, meaning in 2022 it is said to arrive on January 17 Dani DG/Getty Images

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