Blue Monday (date)

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Blue Monday is a name given to a date in mid-to-late January stated, as part of a publicity campaign by Sky Travel, to be the most depressing day of the year. However, the whole concept is considered pseudoscience,[1] with its formula derided by scientists as nonsense.


This date was published in a press release under the name of Cliff Arnall, at the time a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a Further Education centre attached to Cardiff University. Guardian columnist Dr. Ben Goldacre reported that the press release was delivered substantially pre-written to a number of academics by public relations agency Porter Novelli, who offered them money to put their names to it.[2] The Guardian later printed a statement from Cardiff University distancing themselves from Arnall: "Cardiff University has asked us to point out that Cliff Arnall... was a former part-time tutor at the university but left in February."[3]


This date allegedly falls on the Monday of the last full week of January. The date was declared by Arnall to be 24 January in 2005,[4] 23 January in 2006,[5] 22 January in 2007,[6] 21 January in 2008,[7] 19 January in 2009,[8] 18 January in 2010. In 2011 there was confusion about the correct date; some claimed it to be 17 January 2011[9] while others stated Blue Monday was on 24 January 2011.[10][11][12] In 2012, the most depressing day of the year was said to be 23 January.[13][14][15] In 2013, the blue Monday is said to be on January 21.


According to a press release by a mental health charity,[8] the formula is:

\frac{[W + D-d] T^Q}{M N_a}

where weather=W, debt=d, time since Christmas=T, time since failing our new year’s resolutions=Q, low motivational levels=M and the feeling of a need to take action=Na. 'D' is not defined in the release, nor are units.

Arnall says the date was calculated by using many factors, including: weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action. Writing about the calculation, Ben Goldacre stated: ... the fact is that Cliff Arnall's equations ... fail even to make mathematical sense on their own terms.[2] Dean Burnett, a neuroscientist who has worked in the psychology department of Cardiff University, has described the formula as "farcical", with "nonsensical measurements".[16]

Happiest day[edit]

Mr Arnall also says, in a press release commissioned by Wall's,[17] that he has calculated the happiest day of the year—in 2005, 24 June,[18] in 2006, 23 June,[19] in 2008, 20 June,[20] in 2009, 19 June[21] and in 2010, 18 June.[22] So far, this date has fallen close to Midsummer (June 21st to 24th).


  1. ^ Dean Burnett (16 January 2012). "Blue Monday: a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation". The Guardian. 
  2. ^ a b Goldacre, Ben (2006-12-16). "MS = media slut, but CW = corporate whore". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  3. ^ Goldacre, Ben (2006-11-18). "How GxPxIxC = selling out to your corporate sponsor". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  4. ^ "Jan. 24 called worst day of the year". MSNBC. 2005-01-24. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  5. ^ "Jan. 23 most depressing day of the year: report". CTV. 2006-01-24. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  6. ^ "Blue Monday: The unhappiest day of the year". London: Daily Mail. 2007-01-22. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  7. ^ Booth, Frances (2008-01-21). "Smile! You're not the only one in a bad mood". London: Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  8. ^ a b "Campaign aims to help ease January blues British public urged to ‘Beat Blue Monday’". 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  9. ^ "'Blue Monday': Today the most depressing day of the year". 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-17. 
  10. ^ "2011 is so bad – we have two Blue Mondays!". 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  11. ^ "Blue Monday". 2011-01-17. Retrieved 2011-01-18. 
  12. ^ "Today is the real Blue Monday". The Guardian. 2011-01-24. Retrieved 2011-01-24. 
  13. ^ Burnett, Dean (Monday 16 January 2012 06.59 GMT). "Blue Monday: a depressing day of pseudoscience and humiliation". Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  14. ^ "Is Blue Monday the most depressing day of the year... or was it all a marketing scam to make us book vacations?". 16 January 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Blue Monday is most depressing day of the year, research claims". Telegraph. 16 Jan 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Dean Burnett (21January 2013). "Blue Monday: a depressing day of nonsense science (again)". The Guardian. 
  17. ^ "It's the happiest day of the year, formula shows". 2006-06-23. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  18. ^ "Cheer up for year's happiest day". BBC. 2005-06-24. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  19. ^ "Smile, it's the happiest day of the year". 2006-06-23. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  20. ^ Smith, Rebecca (2008-06-20). "Today is the happiest day of the year according to Cliff Arnall's maths formula". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2008-06-20. 
  21. ^ "Here comes the sum... Algebra 'proves' how holiday hopes, heat and high spirits make today the year's happiest". Daily Mail (London). 2009-06-19. Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  22. ^ Grant, Alistair (2010-06-18). "Happiness is, today, claims maths equation". Irish Examiner (Cork). Retrieved 2010-06-18. 

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