Knowing that the year’s most depressing day is soon can be upsetting. No recurrent day will see everyone feeling depressed. However, periodic factors can contribute to defining the social climate of a society, where statistically, a significant proportion of the population suffers from depression compared to other moments.

Let’s understand the Blue Monday effect and how to go over it:

  • 📜 History
  • 🧮 Formulae
  • 📊 Analysis
  • 🪄 Tips

📜 History

Blue Monday is a day recognized as the most depressing day of the year, mainly because of the return to work and routine after a weekend and the end of the festivities of the previous year. It is the third Monday of January.

It was initially created by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall in 2005 when he developed the concept as part of a marketing campaign for the now-defunct British company Sky Travel. It’s a fantastic example of how an advertising campaign can become embedded in cultural traditions.

🧮 Formulae

Dr. Cliff Arnall suggested a function that models how depressing each day of the year is. By finding the date on which a mathematical formula based on economic, psychological, and climatological factors, then validated by his observations, takes its maximum value on Blue Monday:

Depression formula — not proven scientifically 🤓
Depression formula — not proven scientifically 🤓 [source]

Where the parameters are the weather (W), the debt (D), the monthly salary (d), the time since Christmas (T), the time since failing our New Year’s resolutions (Q), low motivational levels (M), and the feeling of the need to take action (Na).

Later, Dr. Cliff Arnall created the “Yellow Day”, a celebration of the happiest day of the year to counterbalance the saddest day. This time, he was in cahoots with an ice cream manufacturer, Wall’s Ice Cream, where the period around the 20th of June would be a perfectly happy day thanks to the pleasant temperature, more daylight hours, and holiday perspectives. On a similar approach, the formula is:

Happiness formula — not proven scientifically 🤓
Happiness formula — not proven scientifically 🤓 [source]

Where the parameters are the outdoor activities (O) in full connection with nature (N) and also the social interactions (I), the childhood and other positive memories (S), multiplied by the temperature (T), and divided holiday excitement (P).

Several versions of these mathematical formulae exist. Each one gives periodic dates because they are founded on pseudo-periodic coupled parameters. However, the scientific community considers them as baseless pseudoscience. And they are right. In addition, the mental health of a population can be influenced by many unpredictable phenomena like an economic crisis, an epidemic, or a natural catastrophe. Even if a mathematical formula and/or these annual periodicities were proven, they would be disturbed by it. But time slices exist where the mental health of a whole population is affected. It isn’t easy to quantify. Only trends can be observed.

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