Blue Monday - Great Songs, Not So Great Day
Is It Legit Or Self-Fulfilling Prophecy?
There is apparently no real science behind the claims that today, the third Monday in January, is the year's most depressing day. However, there can be some legitimacy behind the belief that today is Blue Monday.
Christmas is over, so the Christmas spirit appears to have disappeared in a lot of people, replaced by concerns over mounting debt from Christmas, a sense of discouragement because of a lack of follow-through on New Year's resolutions, potential lack of motivation and so forth. How did this belief in Blue Monday come about?
Former Cardiff University lecturer Cliff Arnall was commissioned by a U.K.-based travel agency in 2005 to find the most depressing day of the year as a way to market winter vacations. There was no desire to help those with mental illness behind the research - it was driven by the market. Arnall apparently came up with a pseudo-mathematical equation to determine exactly when the most depressing day was in 2005, and the term "Blue Monday" stuck.
However, scientists and medical professionals have said that there is very little science behind Arnall's claims.
“True clinical depression (as opposed to a post-Christmas slump) is a far more complex condition that is affected by many factors, chronic and temporary, internal and external. What is extremely unlikely (i.e. impossible) is that there is a reliable set of external factors that cause depression in an entire population at the same time every year,” Dean Burnett of Cardiff University said.
What is true, however, is that Mother Nature may have something to do with how you're feeling. The winter months tend to be among the grayest in any given year, with not much in the way of sunlight to go around. In addition, this year in some areas has seen some very unpredictable weather hitting, with some areas getting rain, freezing rain and snow, often in one day. That can lead to further concerns about getting to work or school safely in addition to any concerns about post-Christmas debt and so forth.
If, however, you are of the belief that the third Monday in January is more depressing than any other days of the year, it is possible that you may, for lack of a better term, "talk" yourself right into having a low day, thereby fulfilling the promise of "blue" in the title of the day. It's important to recognize that there might be other contributing factors to your state of mind, such as low levels of sleep, lack of natural lighting due to current weather conditions, and possible concerns over your employment or your accrued debt. There are a variety of possibilities to cause your post-Christmas crash, and Blue Monday might - or might not - be one of them.
Just A State Of Mind?
This is not to say that just the power of positive thinking can eliminate any ills that a day like Blue Monday might visit upon you. While some could and have argued that Blue Monday may just be self-fulfilling prophecy, it's possible that it is a matter of you having too much going on at the time - just as you might be prone to have during other times of the year.
Also, if you have a pre-existing mental illness, such as depression or anxiety, you may very well hear the words "Blue Monday" and immediately feel angst-ridden. Words have a lot of power, and describing a particular day as "blue" can - and does - really set people off at times.
It's important to not diminish Blue Monday or any "blue" sort of day as just a matter of mood. People with mental illnesses can truly find certain days more challenging than others, and this can indeed lead to tough days. It's understandable that scientists and medical professionals scoff at Blue Monday, to an extent, because there is no apparent rhyme or reason as to why that particular day was chosen, other than there's just enough time after Christmas that things might feel tougher than they do at other times of the year.
Mental illness is serious enough - speaking out about Blue Monday doesn't make it less serious, but it definitely continues the much needed conversation about mental health.