Today is ‘Blue Monday’, the Saddest Day of the Year (Apparently)

A short story on marketing ploys and focusing on the positives.

Elaine M.
Elaine M.
Jan 18 · 3 min read
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Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Not to be confused with the New Order song of the same name, ‘Blue Monday’ is a term coined by a U.K. travel company to describe what they determined to be the saddest day of the year: today. The third Monday in January.

In 2005, Sky Travel released a press release claiming that based on ‘research’ and calculations they had obtained, that took into account factors such as weather conditions, debt levels, the time elapsed since the last public holiday and time until the next one - people are most likely to feel sad on this very day.

As with many things in life, Sky Travel wasn’t simply trying to get the message out there and help people — they were trying to sell something. On this occasion, they were trying to sell holidays. The marketing ploy being that the best way to get over your sadness was to book a Mediterranean getaway and kick your troubles away in the surf of an azure sea along a golden, sandy beach.

Within their press release, they attributed the research and calculations to Dr Cliff Arnall, a psychologist and life coach, who at the time was a tutor at the Centre of Life Long Learning in Cardiff, Wales.

Arnall has since commented that he never intended to paint this day in a negative light. Instead, he wanted to highlight to people that around this time is when they might experience a dip in their mood, based on several common factors, and that it would be a normal experience for many. He originally hoped that this information would help people be prepared for their feelings and motivate them to find the resilience to power through, putting in place the coping strategies that would work for them (that didn’t necessarily involve booking an all-inclusive holiday).

18th January 2021

It’s no secret that 2020 was a tough year, not least with the COVID pandemic impacting our lives in so many ways. The number of adults experiencing depression has almost doubled from before the coronavirus outbreak.

As 2021 has kicked off with just as much strife and uncertainty — and the possibility of long beach holidays still being a distant dream for many — it wouldn’t be a surprise to discover that this really is the saddest day of the year for a lot of people.

I honestly can’t say that I found today to be any better or worse than any other Monday in January (or any other month for that matter) before learning about ‘Blue Monday’. I do know that we all experience what I’ve come to refer to as ‘pockets’ of good or bad times — and that we always make it through.

In a somewhat humorous turn of events, Arnall’s Twitter bio now reads #StopBlueMonday. I like Arnall’s assertion that awareness of these days, where possible, is the best way for us to move forward. Knowing ourselves and the drifts of our lives can help us reflect on how we want to tackle things and move forward proactively.

Knowing, too, that a sad day is upon us is also a nice excuse to take it easy, remove the foot from the proverbial pedal and find some moments for grace instead. I could list a heap of stuff you could do - take a walk somewhere green, drink nice tea, chat with a friend — but the ways you choose to tackle these days when they come is entirely up to you. If it involves hiding under the duvet watching your favourite sitcom on repeat — that’s fine too.

The important thing is to allow yourself the time you need, but to then move on. There are always better days ahead.

If you need me today, the ‘saddest’ day of the year, you’ll find me wrapped in a duvet fort of my own creation. Coffee in hand, dog, snuggled in lap, watching Schitt’s Creek on repeat. But tomorrow? I’ll be back at it because that’s how we move forward.

(Un)Consciously

‘Listen — are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?’ ~ Mary Oliver

Elaine M.

Written by

Elaine M.

Writer etc | Psychologist-in-Training | Careers Coach Veteran | Covering: Careers with Purpose, Positive Psychology + Creative Living without the BS

(Un)Consciously

(Un)Consciously: Exploring common psychology concepts for modern life to help you live more consciously.

Elaine M.

Written by

Elaine M.

Writer etc | Psychologist-in-Training | Careers Coach Veteran | Covering: Careers with Purpose, Positive Psychology + Creative Living without the BS

(Un)Consciously

(Un)Consciously: Exploring common psychology concepts for modern life to help you live more consciously.

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