What the Heck is Blue Monday: The story behind the infamous day

What is Blue Monday?

Every year in January, we start seeing the term “Blue Monday” being bounced around in social media and ads across the globe. Most of us know that it is considered to be the unhappiest day of the year—but what is it really? And more importantly, how the heck was this discovered?

It is generally accepted that Blue Monday falls on the last full week in January. This year, Blue Monday will land on January 20th.


The first sighting of Blue Monday was in 2005 in a press release by Dr. Cliff Arnall.  The press release was in coordination with a company by the name of Sky Travel.  What started as a marketing plan to boost winter travel, became something much more relevant to the dark winter culture. Originating in the UK, Blue Monday became popular to most individuals as it labeled that unspoken depressed mutual feeling of being in a place that can be quite dark and cold during this time; therefore, other countries suffering similar winter conditions have also begun to recognize the term Blue Monday as the unhappiest day of the year, as it continues to catch on more and more throughout European countries.

Here in Denmark, it is no secret that the winterWinterCar can become quite depressing. Going to work before the sun rises, and coming home after the sun sets can start to take its toll mentally.  Like the UK, Denmark can relate to the feelings of seasonal depression. Danes definitely agree that the toughest month to remain cheerful through, is January.

The Science

Dr. Arnall came up with the equation using the following factors: 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).


Though the equation has been discredited and labeled as “pseudoscience”, it is no secret that if we could really calculate the unhappiest day of the year, odds are that it would most likely fall in January. With all the holiday festivities being over, we are left sitting in the cold dark with nothing left to look forward to except spring time.

The Answer

So if Blue Monday really is the day of the year that we feel the most downhearted, what can we do to make it not so “unhappy” for ourselves? Alexander Kjerulf, author of Happy Hour is 9-5, makes a few suggestions here on how to start your year off right and fight off the Blue Monday blues. If you want to battle the effects of Blue Monday, make sure to check out What the Heck is Arbejdsglæde and let Alexander explain to you how you can start creating more happiness at work.

Image from: here

Peter Gratale

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