Why ‘Blue Monday’ is a myth

Each year around this time, the internet starts going abuzz with warnings about the dreaded “Blue Monday,” the so-called most depressing day of the year. Where did the Blue Monday concept originate, and is it a real phenomenon?

person on the seafront
Is Blue Monday real? Where did this concept come from?

A quick internet search will reveal that today, the 21st of January, is supposedly Blue Monday, the worst day of the year, when doom and gloom govern the general mood.

Blue Monday does not fall on the same date each year, but it has to be a Monday (of course), and it has to be in January, and it is usually the third Monday of the first month of the year.

Truth be told, today, as I write this article, I am not in the best of shapes. Fighting off a stubborn and painful cold, stressed by pressing deadlines, and worried about the challenges that the week ahead may present, I am tempted to say that the Blue Monday label is fitting for a day like today.

But then again, I had the flu last week as well, and stress-inducing deadlines are a common occurrence in my line of work, so why not call every less-than-perfect Monday a “Blue” Monday? What makes today so uniquely gloomy? Or perhaps a better question would be: “Is the third Monday of January truly the gloomiest day of the year?”

In this Spotlight feature, we find out where the concept of Blue Monday originated, how this date is calculated, and whether or not there is any truth to the idea.

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While all of these variables may seem like valid factors when it comes to calculating the worst day of the year, specialists have pointed out, time and again, that these variables are impossible to determine, making the equation utterly unscientific.

There is no way to measure “time since failure to keep New Year’s resolution” for every single person on the planet, and January weather is vastly different among countries and continents.

In fact, as I write this, the weather in New York is -14°C (7°F), but in Brighton, United Kingdom — where the Medical News Today office is based — we are enjoying a balmy 5°C (41°F), while the inhabitants of Sydney, Australia are bracing for an “intense hot spell.”

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