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“Blue Monday” Is The Media Myth That Just Won’t Die

No, today is not the “most depressing day of the year.”

1. So, today is the most “depressing day of the year”, according to several media outlets. The weather’s bad, you’re back at work and it’s four weeks until payday.

The only trouble is, this theory has been comprehensively debunked many times since it arrived as a pseudoscientific media myth in 2005. It has no real basis in science and lots of studies have found that happiness fluctuates throughout the year, with admissions for depression peaking in Autumn in one study and not at all, in another.

Maybe you already knew that. Yet that hasn’t stopped it becoming a time-honoured British media tradition, a bit like our own version of Groundhog Day, only more cynical. It’s almost reassuring.

2. Still, MailOnline has it covered.

And it’s getting honourable mentions today from The Telegraph, Daily Star and The independent, among others.

A host of local newspapers including the North Devon Journal (which helpfully comes up with handy hints for beating depression), joined the fun.

3. The Shropshire Star asked readers to complete this poll to celebrate this annual journalistic tradition (it’s tantalisingly neck and neck)

4. The idea of a “most depressing day” came from a public relations exercise and brands are still keen to keep the idea alive.


Dr Cliff Arnall, a researcher and lifestyle coach, developed a formula to calculate the most depressing day of the year in 2005, as part of a campaign for Sky Travel. He has also come up with sciency-sounding formulae for Wall’s, the ice cream company, judging the happiest day of the year to be 19 June.

Over the years, insurance companies, hotel chains and even the Samaritans have used this myth as a way of getting into newspapers and on radio.

5. In a new twist, this year an online divorce company argues this is actually “Divorce Monday”, the most popular day for divorce proceedings to start.


Meanwhile, a British energy drink company has, it says, “examined two million tweets” to conclude that today is in fact the “most depressing day of the year”, while a dating site designed to arrange extra-marital flings has given it a go.

There are infinite directions in which to take the Blue Monday meme for future generations.

6. If all this bothers you, you could go on one of Cliff Arnall’s life coaching sessions, held in a “peaceful converted barn”, for just £50.

That would make the ideal gift for reporters who write up the Blue Monday story year after year.

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Patrick Smith is the UK media editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
 
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