Is January 15, 2024 actually the saddest day of the year?Image: Shutterstock
Blue Monday is said to be the saddest day of the year. Yes, in January many people's moods are at their lowest – but there's no scientific evidence that Blue Monday exists. How did the legend come about?
15 January 2024, at 08:48January 15, 2024, at 10:12
Where does Blue Monday originate?
The inventor of the so-called Blue Monday is the British psychologist Clive Arnall. The color blue has several meanings in English: on the one hand it represents the color blue, but on the other hand it also represents the state in which a person feels sad or depressed.
In 2005, Arnall came up with the crucial formula for Blue Monday – which is supposed to be used to calculate the saddest day of the year (“the most miserable day of the year”). According to his calculations, this day falls on the third Monday of January every year – this year it is January 15, 2024.
What does the Blue Monday formula look like?
At first glance it seems very scientific.
But if you take a closer look at what the different letters mean, the magic quickly disappears:
- W means weather
- D stands for debt
- D represents the salary in January that is deducted from the debt
- T means the time that has passed since Christmas
- It means good intentions that we no longer hold on to
- M means motivation level
- Nₐ is the need to become active again
If there are only question marks in your head now – don't worry. These variables are chosen so arbitrarily that all mathematicians' hair will probably stand on end. Arnal does not provide any further explanations of the formula nor mention any units of measurement. But without that, it becomes difficult to calculate anything.
Scientists agree that this formula is pseudoscientific nonsense.
Is it all just a marketing ploy?
The story behind the bill doesn't make things any better: The Blue Monday formula was first revealed in a travel company press release. You can almost assume that Blue Monday is just a PR stunt to get people to travel…
In fact, travel providers – or even psychotherapy clinics – still advertise Blue Monday to this day. True to the motto: “You're not feeling well? That's normal, but take a trip somewhere warm.” Or: “Go to the clinic and take care of your mental problems.”
Who wouldn't want to be on vacation right now?Photo: IMAGO/VWPics
Cliff Arnall has now admitted that the formula doesn't make sense. But it got even stranger: in 2018, the psychologist apologized for giving the day such a negative connotation. This was not his intention, but rather he wanted to encourage people to “take action and make courageous decisions in life.”
What is the best way to get rid of these negative associations? With a new travel campaign, think about Arnal, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays. In 2018, they launched an advertising campaign with the message: “Seize the start of the new year and book your next vacation.”
Is there still something in Blue Monday?
Even if Blue Monday has not been scientifically proven, many people are actually in a worse mood in January than in the spring or summer. The winter blues enter a new round after Christmas and New Year.
This is mainly due to the darkness. If there is no light outside all day and you spend most of your time indoors, your body secretes the sleep hormone melatonin, making you tired, even during the day. This is why many people feel lethargic and weak in the winter months.
What can you do against the winter blues?
Even if you don't want to, exercising outdoors is the best medicine against persistent winter fatigue. Walking can give you a real motivational boost.
It can also help maintain your social connections: meet up with your friends after work instead of spending every evening alone at home.
If this doesn't help and you suffer significantly from your symptoms over a longer period of time, you should definitely seek medical advice – because you may be suffering not just from the blues, but from winter depression.
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