Blue Monday, Saddest Day of the Year

3rd Monday in January


Misery is expected to peak today, the third Monday in January being the “most depressing day” of the year.

[Note: you can say things like “is expected to” if one person expects it to be true.]

That one person is Cliff Arnalls of Wales, who created the formula to determine the worst day of the year.

[Note: if I can find someone who agrees with him, I can write: “Researchers agree…”]

The equation is:

[W + (D-d)] x TQ
divided by
M x NA


D = debt

d = amount of January pay check

T = time since Christmas

Q = amount time since failure to quit bad habit

M = motivational levels

NA = the need to take action

(The BBC describes Cliff as a part-time tutor at University of Cardiff in Wales, although one week later MSNBC promoted him to Dr. Arnall, a psychologist specializing in seasonal disorders. Apparently American educational standards are more lax.)

Even though the shortest day of the year is December 21st, the weather continues getting colder throughout the month of January. In fact, in ancient Rome the calendar year originally started in March and ended in December. The months of January and February were just one big amorphous clump of days, as the calendar was used mainly for agricultural purposes and was based on lunar cycles rather than solar.  In the 700s BC January and February were “created” to fill in the gap.

By a couple weeks into the new year the energy of the holidays has long dissipated, folks have failed all or most of their resolutions, and their bank accounts are still empty.

The airlines, however, recognize the date as the time when people are most likely to book a vacation.

“People feel bleak when they have nothing planned, but once they book a holiday they have a goal, they work toward having time off and a relaxing period,” — spokesperson for Porter Novelli, the PR agency for Sky Travel.

I’m buying into the vacation-booking theory, since my folks just booked their vacation last night.

Tips for making it through Blue Monday:

“Have a party and celebrate” – Jack Gilbert, Ontario, Canada

“Exercise and bibliotherapy” — Dr. Alan Cohen, Royal College of General Practioners

“Watch the film ‘The Sound of Music'” — Ketan Shah, Harrow, England

“Move to New Zealand…It’s summer!” – Oliver, Auckland, New Zealand

Thank you, New Zealand, for rubbing that in.

2 Replies to “Blue Monday, Saddest Day of the Year”

  1. I found out about this a few years ago, and wrote about here it in my super-old, extra-abandoned blog. It’s a weird idea. This year, I forgot about it, and so the 24th was a fine day. Great post- it’s interesting to see who died and when.

Leave a Reply