Were you feeling ‘blue’ this Monday?

Were you feeling particularly unhappy this week? We’re sorry to hear that, but if you were, you weren’t alone as this week was – apparently – ‘Blue Monday’; the third Monday in January which is reported to be the most depressing day of the year.

Reasons for our feeling so blue on this particular day are many and varied but include weather conditions, (that part we can understand) financial worries (about now is when the December credit card statements arrive showing our pre-Christmas spending), the lapse of time since Christmas, the amount of time still needed to get through dry January and the gradual realisation that even more willpower will be needed to keep to our New Year’s Resolutions.

Reviewing this list it’s easy to see why so many of us would call in sick this week or claim a ‘duvet day’.

The origins of Blue Monday have been traced to (yes, you guessed it) a travel company which used it as part of a marketing push in 2005 to promote their holidays. They were certainly on to  something as, ten years later, January now represents the month when all the major travel brands launch their sales campaigns.

Despite these brands moving more spend towards social media, many of them were still spending heavily on TV this year which, as the ad men would say, ‘ain’t cheap’. But it makes sense to catch us all at a low ebb and reading brochures on where to go on the summer holiday sure beats rereading the December credit card statement.

In an attempt to give their campaign more credibility in 2005, the original travel company turned to an academic and asked him to come up with an equation that would ‘prove’ why the third Monday in January is the most depressing.

This he duly did and he included the following in his equation. W=weather, D=debt, d=monthly salary, T=time since Christmas, Q=time since failing our new year’s resolutions, M=low motivational levels, and Na=the feeling of a need to take action.

We haven’t printed the equation here because frankly, the academic community rubbished it as soon as they saw it with many of them labelling it pseudo-science and nonsensical. Cardiff University, where the academic claimed to be working at the time, even issued a statement distancing themselves from him.

Despite its weak academic background (some would say non-existent) Blue Monday has caught on as a marketing gimmick and the list of companies that are now using it in their marketing campaigns includes – at the last count – a legal firm, a retailer of bottled water and an alcoholic drinks manufacturer.

We predict that Blue Monday will grow and that future academics will add another factor to their equation where F=fed up with the volume of emails being received that quote ‘Blue Monday’ .


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