Every year, the third Monday of January is dubbed Blue Monday. It’s based on the idea that we are all suffering from the cold and wet winter weather, the lack of sunshine, we are broke following the expenses of Christmas, we have failed to keep to our New Year resolutions, we are feeling guilty about eating and drinking too much and that we have not been physically active. It’s a depressing time of year!
The concept ‘Blue Monday’ was originally conceived in 2004 by psychologist Cliff Arnall. He came up with a formula for January blues after he was asked to do so by travel firm Sky Travel who then used the phrase to promote their winter deals.
The formula shown below takes into account various factors likely to contribute to low mood.
W+(Dd)] x TQ/M x NA.
W is “weather”, D is “debt” (debts acquired at Christmas), d is “monthly salary” multiplied by the time elapsed since Christmas (T, “time since Christmas”) and Q is the frustration for having broken New Year’s resolutions while M is “low motivational level” and NA, the need to take action.
There’s no doubt a lot of people feel depressed at this time of year but let’s face it – there are events and situations that could make us more depressed at any time of year. Also, it seems nonsense to pin winter depression down to a particular day. (For example, as today was relatively bright and sunny, I felt more cheerful than I did last week when the weather was grey and wet.)
So it’s all a bit meaningless and it’s been invented as a clever marketing tool.
But, I think I do suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and I do seem prone to bouts of pissed-offness at any time of the year. In fact my suffering wife bought me a SAD (light therapy) lamp for Christmas. I think it does have a short term positive effect but its clearly not the answer on its own.
So it was with great interest that I saw Gyles Brandreth on Good Morning Britain explain the seven secrets of happiness which he discovered a few years ago when he went to visit the late great psychiatrist Dr Anthony Clare. It was an extremely entertaining and persuasive explanation and I recommend it to you if you can catch it. If not don’t worry. Gyles discusses them in his Blog post ‘For Blue Monday – The 7 secrets of happiness‘ of January 21st in 2019.