Cold, wet, dark and dreary: the winter months get on the nerves of many people. But there is one day when things are supposed to be particularly depressing – the saddest day of the year. According to a calculation by British psychologist Cliff Arnall, this day falls on the third Monday in January each year, known as “Blue Monday”. So in 2023, January 16 is considered the saddest day of the year.

In 2005, Arnall published his theory in a press release from PR agency Porter Novelli. The thought behind it: Factors such as weather, money and motivation have a direct impact on people’s well-being. Arnall came up with an equation that incorporated these points. According to this, the weather in January is bad, the bills from the beginning of the year are outstanding, but the January salary has not yet been received. The Christmas season, which gave many people lift and meaning, is over, but at the same time the good resolutions for the new year have already been broken. According to Arnall, the level of motivation and the need to be active are also at rock bottom.

If you take all these factors into account, there is no other day as low as the third Monday in January. “Blue Monday” takes its name from the translation of the English word “Blue”, which not only denotes the color blue, but can also be translated as “sad” or “depressed”.

However, the scientific basis for this claim is thin. The factors that Arnall uses in his equation are difficult to measure concretely. The psychologist had to take a lot of criticism for his thesis, even Cardiff University, where Arnall had previously worked, distanced itself from him. Not only his methodical approach was criticized, but also the fact that he had created the equation on behalf of a travel company, which was using it to advertise travel in the supposedly sad January.

Arnall himself apologized in an interview with the “Independent” in 2018 for having made what he considers the saddest day of the year even more depressing for many people. That was not his intention, he rather wanted to encourage people to “become active and make courageous life decisions”. Appropriately, he gave some tips on how to get back in a good mood on “Blue Monday” – for example by spending time with loved ones or looking for a new hobby.

Sources: “Guardian” / “Independent”