With January already rapidly disappearing before our eyes, we are within touching distance of the middle of the month.
And every year, when we get to the middle of January, we come to the day that has come to be recognised as Blue Monday.
With the first month of the year being a time which sees a worrying upturn in suicide rates and depression following Christmas and New Year, Blue Monday is generally recognised as the peak of what is unpleasant about the middle of our winter.
READ MORE: Aldi sends important message to everyone who shops there
So as we approach Blue Monday 2022, here’s all you need to know about when it falls, why it has been recognised, and whether it really exists at all.
When is Blue Monday 2022 and why?
The accepted position is that Blue Monday falls on the third Monday of January every year.
In 2022, that is coming on January 17.
It falls at this time because it is supposed to be the saddest day of the year.
Through a combination of short days and long nights, the continuing cold and wet weather and the hangover of the festive period (literal and figurative), it is claimed that this is the time of year when people are the most unhappy.
The life coach and psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall created a formula in 2005 to determine the ‘saddest’ day of the year, and landed on Blue Monday because of the bad weather, dark nights, post-Christmas debt and failed New Year’s resolutions.
This year is another that carries an extra poignancy when it comes to this time of year, with the cloud of Covid still hanging over us – although hope remains that we may yet see the end of the pandemic as we know it in the months ahead.
Why has the term been assigned?
The origin of Blue Monday as a societal concept actually has slightly different beginnings than people being concerned about mental health.
The term was widely used in a press release by Sky Travel, citing Dr Arnall’s formula trying to convince people that this was a sad time of year so they should cheer themselves up by booking holidays later in the year.
It only really applies to the northern hemisphere countries, since it is only in our part of the world that winter is still in place in January.
If you tried to call a summer day in Australia ‘Blue Monday’, you might be reminded the only blues they are feeling are the sea and sky.
Looking for today’s top stories in one place? Sign up for our newsletter here.
Does it really exist?
The use and recognition of Blue Monday as a concept has been challenged over the years, with some claiming the supposed formula devised to identify it is baseless.
Indeed, even Dr Arnall has since confessed that the formula is essentially pseudoscience and has urged Brits to “refute the whole notion” of Blue Monday.
“I was originally asked to come up with what I thought was the best day to book a summer holiday but when I started thinking about the motives for booking a holiday, reflecting on what thousands had told me during stress management or happiness workshops, there were these factors that pointed to the third Monday in January as being particularly depressing,” he told The Daily Telegraph in 2013.
“But it is not particularly helpful to put that out there and say ‘there you are’.”
He also described it as a self-fulfilling prophecy, suggesting that people are miserable on Blue Monday because they expect to be.
How can we deal with Blue Monday?
Everyone has their own ways of cheering themselves up, and it is important not to fall into a trap of expecting to be miserable on Blue Monday.
Many people use the day to reflect on how they are feeling and share their thoughts, while some companies use it as a day to focus their marketing campaigns around, especially those in the fitness industry.
Others are intending to subvert the day and use it for something wholesome, including the Samaritans.
The charity has announced it will be holding what it calls ‘Brew Monday’ on January 17 this year, encouraging people to reach out to each other for a cup of tea or coffee and to talk to people to ease the blues.
The announcement of the campaign on the Samaritans website says: “At Samaritans we know there’s no such thing as ‘Blue Monday’ – we all have our good days and our bad days, and those aren’t for the calendar to decide.
“So we say it’s time to stop this myth about Monday being ‘blue’ and instead start a conversation over a brew! Reach out and connect with family, friends, colleagues and loved ones.”
The important thing to remember about Blue Monday is that it should not impact at all on how you feel or what you do – you do not have to feel sad and you do not have to even acknowledge it.
However, with times still tough for many of us amid Covid and the winter blues, just remember to make sure those around you are okay, and together we can make a stand against the ‘saddest day of the year’.
Talk to someone.
There are useful helplines and websites available now.
Samaritans (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected] .
Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults.
Depression Alliance is a charity for people with depression. It doesn’t have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information. http://www.depressionalliance.org/
Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying. http://studentsagainstdepression.org/
The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year, for people who are struggling to cope – experiencing depression, anxiety, panic attacks or in crisis.