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 Dumfries And Galloway  United Kingdom

Don't fall prey to 'Blue Monday' - it's just another day!

If you woke up this morning feeling thoroughly fed up with life in general, maybe it’s because today is ‘Blue Monday’ – officially the most depressing day of the year!

Typically falling on the third Monday in January, the concept of a ‘most depressing day’ was first publicised in 2005 as part of a marketing campaign by a holiday company. In a bid to get people to cheer themselves up by booking a holiday and giving themselves something to look forward to, the company commissioned a university academic to determine the most depressing day of the year.

Dr Cliff Arnall, at that time a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning attached to Cardiff University, devised a formula for predicting the glummest day of the year. It took into account factors such as post-Christmas bills rolling in, the buzz of the Christmas and New Year holidays wearing off, failing New Year resolutions, lack of motivation, short days and miserable weather, the length of time to the next holiday, and so on. According to his equation, the most misery-filled day would typically fall on the third Monday in January, henceforth dubbed ‘Blue Monday’.

Serious academics were quick to rubbish his formula as ‘nonsensical pseudoscience’, and even Cardiff University took steps to distance itself from Dr Arnall’s concept. But the notion of Blue Monday struck a chord with the public, who were indeed feeling at a low point in mid to late January. It was soon featuring heavily in social media posts, not just in the UK but spreading across the northern hemisphere.

Perhaps more importantly, other advertisers latched onto the notion. Falling in the fallow period between Christmas and Valentine’s Day, the concept of Blue Monday gave advertisers a valuable new marketing ploy. Whatever their product was, from new season fashions to comfort foods, it could surely be promoted as a way to combat Blue Monday!

More than a dozen years on from its inception, the idea of Blue Monday is now ingrained in popular culture, even printed on some calendars. Some retailers, both online and in the real world, even stage Blue Monday ‘flash sales’, offering special discounts for 24 hours to help people beat the blues with ‘retail therapy’, by snapping up a bargain.

As the ‘inventor’ of Blue Monday, you might imagine Dr Arnall is all about doom and gloom, but far from it. He now runs happiness and confidence sessions for large organisations such as the NHS and the Department of Work and Pensions, giving people strategies to improve motivation and job satisfaction in themselves and others.

Working on the basis that for every negative there is a positive, Dr Arnall was also commissioned – this time by an ice cream company – to come up with a formula for the happiest day of the year. In 2005 it fell on June 24th and it has been around that date in mid to late June ever since. It is usually on a Friday – just before the weekend – and close to the longest day of the year, giving more opportunity for outdoor leisure pursuits, hopefully in the sunshine.

And Dr Arnall insists people can cheer themselves up on any day of the year, by focusing on things they can change. He suggests people can use Blue Monday as the starting point for making an improvement, whether it is to their health, career, relationships or any other aspect of their life.

“The easiest way to be happy is spending more time with people who love you and like you as you are,” he said.

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