Blue Monday - Is it real?

What is ‘Blue Monday’?

Blue Monday is a phrase often used to refer to the third Monday of the year, which in 2022 falls on the 17th of January. Blue Monday is often considered to be the gloomiest day of the year, due to a range of factors including short days, cold weather, post-Christmas finances and the breakdown of new year’s resolutions. While the phrase was first coined by Psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall, it became widely known after Sky Travel incorporated it into their marketing in 2005. Sky Travel used the concept to encourage customers to book holidays with them, to beat these so-called ‘blues’.

While Dr Arnall says he coined the phrase in an attempt to inspire people to take action, and to make positive life changes, he has since apologised for the fact that many feel it has made the day more negative with the focus on ‘misery’. Other psychologists, such as Dr Arnall’s university colleague, Dr Dean Burnett feels the phrase minimises and trivialises mental health conditions, commenting ‘there is no such thing as a 24-hour depression’.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

SAD is a form of depression, that is impacted by the changing seasons and the impact on the body’s circadian rhythm. It is more common in females and often affects the 18-35 age group. Symptoms of SAD include irritability, low mood, lack of motivation and low self-esteem. These symptoms are elevated in the winter months and therefore very likely to be present around ‘blue Monday’ however are much longer lasting than just a day.

Therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), can help treat SAD, and National Institute for Health and Care Excellent (NICE) suggests it should be treated in the same way as other forms of Depression. Symptoms may also be reduced through light therapy, exercise, stress reduction and other forms of talking therapy.

The concept of Blue Monday remains highly debated, and Dr Arnall’s formula scrutinised. Environmental factors such as dark days and wet weather can impact how we feel, and other pressures such as financial and social ones can increase stress and anxiety. People may find it harder to motivate themselves at this time of year, due to lower energy levels or feelings of overwhelm. However it is also important not to trivialise mental health conditions at any time of the year and to take positive steps to address any mood changes that are out of character or persistent. If you feel your low mood is lasting a long time or affecting your day to day life it is important to seek the help of a medical professional.

For more information about SAD, please see the links below;

NHS - Treatment - Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - NHS (

Mind - Treatments | Mind, the mental health charity - help for mental health problems

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