Blue Monday: Is Today Really The Most Depressing Day of the Year in 2012?

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By Nadine DeNinno | January 17, 2012 3:29 AM EST

It's no doubt you're feeling a little blue today, -- whether or not you have officially been diagnosed with seasonal affective disorder -- especially if you are spending the day at work regardless of the fact today is one of the three federally authorized holiday celebrations of individuals, being Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

This year, Monday, Jan. 16, has been named "Blue Monday," but is today really the most depressing day of the year?

According to a scientific formula created by former Cardiff University psychologist Cliff Arnall, then the answer is yes, the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year.

Aside from the lack of upcoming holidays, grim weather forecast and piled up bills we all face during this time of the year, the day has been dubbed the most depressing mathematically.

Here's the science behind it.

Arnall created a formula six years ago when commissioned by public relations company Sky Travel as part of a publicity campaign. In a report released by Arnall, then-credited as a tutor at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, a Further Education center attached to Cardiff University, a formula was included to prove the validity:

"frac{[W + (D-d)] times T^Q} {M times N_a}"

According to the formula, "w" stands for weather, "d" for debt, "T" is time since Christmas, "Q" is time since New Year's resolutions were failed, "M" for low motivational levels and "Na" as the feeling of wanting to take action. (Note: D was not defined in the initial release.)

Using the factors as defined in the equation, Arnall determined that the day "Blue Monday" should mathematically fall on the Monday of the last full week of January, though there has been much confusion of the exact date each year in addition to the extensive skepticism.

Last year, many argued that Blue Monday was on Jan. 17, 2011 while others said it was to be celebrated, or rather mourned, on the following Monday, Jan. 24. This year, the exact date appears to be solidly established as Monday, Jan. 16 with "Blue Monday" as a trending topic on Twitter.

Similarly, while critics argue there can be no exact date for Blue Monday, the tradition has received widespread criticism, dubbing it just another marketing ploy by a clever PR company for publicity's sake.

While some other days like Cyber Monday are candidly only a marketing strategy to boost the economy, the initial press release from Arnall and Sky Travel did not rouse consumers with flashy new products or immense savings, but rather offered some advice for combating mild, undiagnosed seasonal affective disorder.

"A campaign encouraging the British public to overcome the winter blues is being launched to raise people's spirits and vital funds for the Mental Health Foundation in the run up to the year's most depressing day - 'Blue Monday'" the first press release read.

The press release also included free advice, including:

    * Keep active
    * Eat well
    * Keep in touch
    * Care for others
    * Do something you are good at
    * Ask for help
    * Accept who you are
    * Talk about your feelings
    * Take a break
    * Drink sensibly

In contrast, Arnall was also commissioned by an ice cream company, Wall's, in 2005 to calculate the happiest days of the tear, which fall in June very close to Midsummer.

So if you're feeling particularly down in the dumps today, whether or not you buy into the Blue Monday fad, here are a few pick-me-ups to combat an otherwise insipid Monday.

1.     Devote an hour to doing something you enjoy, whether it's seeing a film, cooking a tasty meal or knitting.

2.     Formulate a "happy" playlist. Today, for me, it's comprised solely of DJ Tiesto, with of course New Order's "Blue Monday" thrown in, for festivity's sake.

3.     Eradicate one problem from your life, perhaps gripes with people or lack of motivation. Easier said than done, but if you look at the bigger picture, these problems don't seem so bad.

4.     Spend time with someone you love, whether it's a significant other, family member, friend or beloved pet.

5.     Laugh. My suggestion? This gem of an Internet meme.

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