Did you ever hear about Blue Monday, supposedly the most depression day of the year? Although this day might not be as widespread as Friday the 13th or the 5th of November, it somehow managed to insinuate itself in our collective subconscious. For some people, Blue Monday is the modern equivalent of an Oracle, telling people what to do and, most especially what not to do.
So, what is Blue Monday and where did it get its name? Remember how some people shun black cats, avoid breaking mirrors or refuse to pass under a ladder? Well, some people believe that the third Monday of January is a disaster waiting to happen or another great example of how a couple of unrelated circumstances can produce a modern mythos.
The term of ‘Blue Monday’ was coined in 2005, as part of a press release from a travel company called Sky Travel. The man behind the idea was called Cliff Arnall, a tutor at the Cardiff University. However, Arnall’s implication in the birth of the Blue Monday myth was highly questionable, especially because of his pseudoscientific approach.
In the above-mentioned press release, Arnall announced a mathematical equation, which supposedly explained why the third Monday of January is considered finally and emotionally disastrous. Basically, the concept of ‘Blue Monday’ refers to a day so disastrous, that everything is doomed to fail from the start.
Blue Monday should represent the embodiment of what people feel like after going over their credit card expenses after Christmas, how winter affects their wellbeing and their dwindling motivation. These ‘factors’ are all part of Arnall’s mathematical model and are called ‘misery factors.’
As far as we know, there are two official versions of Arnall’s Blue Monday equation. The first one factors in travel time, delays, time spent on cultural activities, R&R time, time spent sleeping, time spent in a constant stress, the average time an individual spends packing, and time we tend to spend preparing for a trip.
As you can see, each factor used to construct Arnall’s ‘mathematical model’ has a common ground: traveling. Each variable was carefully chosen to reflect what happens when we decide to take a trip. Supposedly, this equation should have been used by the clients of holiday booking companies to determine the optimal time for planning a trip.
However, there’s another version of the equation, one that Arnall published in 2009. The second variation takes into account factors such as weather, monthly salary, time elapsed since Christmas, the amount of time passed since we realized that we’ve failed to accomplish our New Year’s Eve resolutions (sic!), low motivational levels, and the need or feeling to make amends.
In other terms, this supposedly scientific approach, should not only be able to pinpoint the most depression day of the year, but also explain why it is considered so gloomy. Of course, when it comes to depression, not even someone with a Ph.D. in higher mathematics could hope to account for every variable.
Bottom line: is Blue Monday real or is it just another modern myth? Maybe there are days when we feel that our actions and their consequences feel heavy than usual, but a mathematical model to predict when and how this occurs is like saying that we can reach the moon using a hot air balloon.
Image source: Flickr