‘These are stressors that we go through any time of the year’: A look at how ‘Blue Monday’ began
The beginning of the week can be difficult at the best of times. But as the final glow of the holidays dim, and the frigid cold temperatures start to settle in, it seems obvious to some why the third Monday of January is dubbed “Blue Monday.”
While experts said while there is no scientific proof it is the most depressing day of the year, many can relate to the post-holiday stress felt during the winter months.
“There is no necessary scientific basis around [“Blue Monday”],” said Dr. Katy Kamkar, clinical psychologist with the Centre of Addiction and Mental Health.
“But certainly, I would say people do identify with post-holiday stress and especially difficulties keeping up with New Year’s resolutions.”
“Blue Monday” has been around since 2005 when the now-defunct, U.K.-based Sky Travel holiday agency commissioned a former lecturer at Cardiff University to find the most depressing day of the year as a way to market winter vacations.
Cliff Arnall, a part-time tutor at the university, developed a formula to find the most depressing day by combining weather, debt, time since Christmas, motivation levels, the time since New Year’s resolutions were made and the need to take action.
“I was approached by a company who wanted to know what was the most depressing day of the year,” Arnall said.
“Why were people wanting to book holidays, in particular, summer holidays.”
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What he allegedly found was the third Monday of January is the worst day of the year because your Christmas spirit has worn off, you’ve failed to keep your New Year’s resolutions, your credit card statements from holiday shopping are due and the weather is cold.
Kamkar said while people tend to feel stress the first few weeks into the New Year, it is something that can happen at any point in the year — not just the third Monday of January.
“We hear [“Blue Monday”] a lot on the news, on media and social media, people talk about it. I think we have done great work … to talk about mental health, mental health awareness, mental health promotion and the importance of prevention and early intervention,” she said.
“These are stressors that we go through any time of the year… we need to recognize the signs and symptoms.”
Kamkar said the discussions around “Blue Monday” can begin dialogue around mental health.
“Whenever we have a topic, then of course people are more likely to talk about it… It helps to open up the dialogue and the conversation,” Kamkar said.
“The more we talk about it, the more we can reduce the stigma attached to it.”
— With files from Andrew Russell
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