The Myth About Blue Monday You Can Stop Believing

Is the third Monday in January really the most depressing day of the year? If the shifting date dubbed "Blue Monday" sounds like a made-up marketing ploy, that's because that's exactly what it is. Back at the beginning of 2005, the travel firm Sky Travel hired psychologist Cliff Arnold to come up with a "formula" showing that moods slumped in mid-January, which of course, could be remedied by booking a trip.

Dr. Arnold spoke to The Telegraph in 2013 saying, "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." Per The Independent, he's since encouraged Brits (and presumably everyone else) to "refute the whole notion."

But since January is generally a slow time for retail, that hasn't stopped marketers from using the "Blue Monday" myth to push anything that might offer a mood boost, from takeout lunch to CBD supplements, so shoppers are likely to still see a few deals this year.

Blue Monday may be fake, but it feels true

Part of the problem with busting the myth of Blue Monday is that it feels true. Factors in the original "formula" included the time gap from the excitement of the holidays (and the encroaching debt associated with them), the generally blah weather of the first month of the year, and the feelings one might be having after those New Year's resolutions were starting to fall by the wayside. Plus, you know, Monday.

It wouldn't be surprising if the third Monday in January were the most depressing day of the year, but sadly, according to the Center for Suicide Prevention, rates of depression stay fairly consistent throughout the year, showing only a very slight rise in the spring.

Though Blue Monday may not have mythical power to mess up your day, the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuing economic fallout, and American political unrest have led to a large spike in anxiety and depression for those in the U.S. It's important to take depression seriously, regardless of the cause, and the National Institute of Mental Health offers a wealth of resources.