Blue Monday: why today is mathematically the most depressing day of the year

Today is officially Blue Monday – the third Monday of January and the most depressing day of the year. Here we explain the formula used to mathematically calculate when this day falls.
Blue Monday is here again, and this time it falls on January 17. Blue Monday is the third Monday of January and is considered the most depressing day of the year.
The date of Blue Monday was calculated using a mathematical formula based on factors that influence people’s moods. Such feelings of wintry sadness are associated with the northern hemisphere, harsh winters and few hours of sunlight, which is why the colour blue is used.
The idea of Blue Monday came about in 2005, when Cliff Arnall, a professor at Cardiff University, came up with the following formula:
Equation detailing Blue Monday attributes

  • W = weather
  • D = debts acquired over Christmas
  • d = money earned in January
  • T = time since Christmas
  • Q = time since failing New Year’s Resolutions
  • M = motivation
  • Na = need to do something

The idea for such an equation came from the travel agency Sky Travel, which asked Arnall to calculate when the best day for planning summer holidays would be. The researcher then concluded that the third Monday of January was the most depressing day of the year and would be ideal for such holiday planning.
However, several scientists have rejected Arnall’s theory, saying that it is pseudoscience as it is not compatible with the scientific method and has no mathematical basis.
Thanks to the criticism from his peers, the term’s creator now participates in the fight against his own invention using the hashtag #StopBlueMonday and arguing that happiness can be found in each day and that people should not pay attention to equations that attribute sadness and depression to certain days.
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Written by

Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]


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