The true story of the “saddest Monday of the year”

According to psychologist Cliff Arnall, the third Monday in January is the saddest day of the year.

You may not have noticed, but this is supposed to be the saddest day of the year, at least in the northern hemisphere. In many places it rains and it is cold.

Few pockets have recovered from the Christmas excesses. And New Year’s resolutions, who remembers?

That is why this Monday, the third of January, is known in English as “Blue Monday”, which in Spanish translates as “sad Monday”.

Social networks are full of “encouragement messages” to get you through these depressing 24 hours. But is it really a sad day? Where does this idea come from?

the bad day

It all started in 2005 with psychologist Cliff Arnall’s attempt to devise a formula to calculate what is the worst day of the year.

In addition to the weather, Christmas excesses, and frustrated New Year’s resolutions, Arnall also factored in motivation levels and the need to take action.

Its result has been questioned but every year this day is commented, criticized and debated. The origin of this formula was an advertising campaign for the Sky Travel travel company, now defunct.

Arnall, who worked at an adjunct center at Cardiff University in Wales and now teaches courses on happiness and personal well-being, has come under fire from some colleagues.

As Arnall told the British newspaper The Telegraph in an interview in 2010, at first they asked him to calculate “what would be the best day to plan the summer holidays”.

But Arnall, thinking about what his patients tell him, analyzed the factors that stress those who come to his workshops and concluded that the third Monday in January “is particularly depressing.”

Neuroscientist Dean Burnett, who worked in the psychology department at Cardiff University in Britain, dismissed the formula as “nonsense pseudoscience” in an article in the British newspaper The Guardian.

For scientist Ben Goldacre, Arnall’s equations are “stupid and some of them don’t even make mathematical sense,” he wrote in The Guardian.

“It’s no surprise, since they come prepared by public relations companies that only look for the name of a scientist,” he added.

happy messages

The date on the calendar has served to flood social networks with messages of encouragement and good intentions to counteract what is supposed to be the saddest day of the year.

But there are also companies that try to take advantage of the momentum of this day to offer a product to help lift your spirits.

In fact, in 2016 Arnall was part of the #StopBlueMonday campaign promoted by the government of the Canary Islands in which he says “don’t let this formula give you permission to laugh or cry… These 24 hours belong to you, don’t let anyone snatched them away, not even one Cliff Arnall.”