Blue Monday 2013: Is Today Really the Most Depressing Day Of the Year?


Feeling miserable, cold, uninspired, or just all-around awful? Don't worry, you actually have an excuse to wallow in misery. Today is "Blue Monday," which is said to be the most depressing day of the year. 

There's a lot of evidence to support the fact that the third Monday of every January is gloomy and terrible. The holidays are over, you may have some debt from all the shopping you did last month, you've probably already abandoned or forgotten about your New Year's resolutions, shorter days don't do anything to improve your mood, the cold weather has gotten old really fast, and summer seems years and years away. Studies on everyday mood also suggest that people are more likely to say they felt worse on Monday.

Blue Monday became a thing in 2005 when psychologist Cliff Arnall put together an equation for a travel firm explaining why the third Monday of each January is a total killjoy. He factored weather, holiday debt, post-holiday blues, motivation levels, and New Years Resolutions success into the equation. Though he has actually said before that his findings are "not particularly helpful" and may very well have simply pulled a date out of thin air for his own personal and professional gain, there's no denying that the combination of depressing elements can take a toll on even the happiest of individuals.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects 6%of the population in "its most marked form," and 14%suffer from "winter blues," a lesser form of SAD. The unemployment rate continues to sit at 7.8%, and those who hoped the workforce would pick up and start hiring again after the holiday season may still be waiting for the right opportunity to come around or more businesses to begin posting job openings. Those of us with full-time work not only have to worry about catching the flu, but finding a way to get paid sick leave in the event that we just can't be around others.

This isn't the greatest time of year for anybody, but Dr. Arnall still doesn't want to see people create their own problems or purposely fall into negativity merely because January is supposedly a very sad month.

"I'm pleased about the impact [of Blue Monday] if it means people are talking about depression and how they feel but I'm also encouraging people to refute the whole notion of there being a most depressing day and to use the day as a springboard for the things that really matter in your life," Dr. Arnall said. "I see a lot of clients who are just fed up with materialistic lives, trying to play catch-up with your neighbours and forgetting what the important things are."

Whether there's any truth to the fact that January is a dark cloud over our lives and a reminder of our shortcomings, the best thing to do during wet, chilly days like this is remember that it won't be dreary and uninspiring forever. Also, this no man's land month will be over in 10 days, and February is even shorter. Next thing you know, it'll be summer and you'll have something new to dread: extreme heat.