In the News
Blue Monday – don’t let the pseudoscience get you down!
Blue Monday usually falls on the third Monday in January and has widely become accepted as the most depressing day of the year. This is the day on which we are all encouraged, by supposedly well-meaning ads, to head off and cheer ourselves up with anything from a meditation session to a holiday booking, all in the name of fighting those blues. The reality? The concept was a marketing ploy with no basis in fact.
Blue Monday is a farce, a day invented in 2005 by Dr Cliff Arnell at the request of Sky Travel, who wanted to use a scientific formula to calculate when the ‘most depressing’ day of the year is and, off the back of that, start a campaign to sell holidays with the idea that customers could drag themselves out of the doldrums by booking a holiday that they could look forward to.
Dr Arnell proceeded to ‘create’ a formula based on factors such as the weather, our debt levels, motivation, time lapsed since our failed new year’s resolutions and so on. This formula has since been debunked many times over – the most basic concern being the lack of units against many of the variables and his failure to properly define them. Dr Arnell claims that his intention was never for Blue Monday to become a ‘negative’ focus for people, and has spent recent years campaigning against the concept of Blue Monday in an attempt to dispel the myth that has been perpetuated as fact every year since.
The question is, though: is there anything in it at all? Should we completely ignore it now that we know Blue Monday is a fallacy? Mental wellbeing is indisputably important, and some people have argued that at least the concept enables conversations around mental health, particularly at a time of year that many find difficult with money short, daylight hours at their lowest levels and the post-Christmas come-down. However, people who struggle with their mental health have also stood up and said that the idea of a single day where people are ‘most’ depressed undermines the reality of living with conditions such as depression, and stand-alone focus days like this can create a trigger point, an unnecessary pressure to try to be more positive to combat the negative press around Blue Monday.
Mental health is extremely important, and nobody should downplay the impact that depression can have on people’s lives. Coupled with this, the invention of scientific ‘evidence’ in order to sell products is morally questionable at best, arguably psychologically manipulative and extremely unhelpful for those who really do struggle with their mental wellbeing. We just wanted to take the opportunity to stand against the use of pseudoscience presented as fact, to reassure people that they shouldn’t be dragged into the false belief that they ‘must’ feel low at this time of year, and to show our support for those who really do face a daily struggle.