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Blue Monday: What’s it all about?  

You’ve heard of the Sunday blues, but what about Blue Monday?

What is it? When is it? And what’s the purpose of it?

You can stop wondering…because we’ve gathered all of the facts about Blue Monday, and listed them all right here for you in this article. Enjoy and learn all there is to know about this key calendar date.

What is Blue Monday?

It’s believed to be the most depressing day of the year. Well it is according to psychologist, Cliff Arnall, who came up with the concept of Blue Monday in 2004, when he created the formula for the January blues.1

The calculation was carried out by Cliff for travel company, Sky Travel, who then went on to use the concept as a PR stunt to promote their winter deals. The formula, which is based on the main factors that are most likely to contribute to low mood, is:

A formula for blue Monday

These are the factors in the calculation:

W = Weather

D = Debt

d = Monthly salary


T = Time since Christmas

Q = Time since failing our new year's resolutions

M = Low motivational levels

Na = The feeling of a need to take action

When is Blue Monday?

The bluest day of the year, Blue Monday, takes place on the third Monday of January.2

In 2021, Blue Monday falls on the 18th of January.

Why is it called Blue Monday?

It’s called Blue Monday because it’s the time of year when we are supposedly feeling most blue and at our lowest. It’s at the time of year when we’re thought to be susceptible to feeling down because the weather’s cold, we’re back at work, we’ve got to make up all the money we spent at Christmas and we’re feeling guilty for already breaking our New Year’s Resolutions.3

Is it really blue?

Google Blue Monday and you’ll be presented with a whole list of articles that tell you when it is and how it’s been calculated, thanks to Cliff Arnall’s formula. Scattered in between all of those articles, you’ll also find lots of references to the phrase, ‘pseudoscience’, which basically means it’s not scientifically true.

Blue Monday just so happens to have hung around in people’s minds and been used by companies for PR purposes ever since the phrase was first coined and formula first unveiled back in 2004. 4

Ways to feel more positive

While Blue Monday hasn’t been scientifically proven, it can be difficult not to feel anything but blue on this day due to the widespread association with it.

Plus, the factors that have been used in Cliff’s Blue Monday calculation are real-life factors – the weather is different in January compared to June, people do break their New Year’s Resolutions early on, motivation levels can be low and there can be some Christmas debt to have to pay back too.

But you shouldn’t have to feel blue, not if you remember:

  1. It’s a myth – there are no scientific studies to say that Blue Monday is actually Blue Monday. 5

  2. We all have good and bad days – everybody’s situations are different, and it’s therefore impossible for all of us to feel exactly the same way on one particular day.6  

  3. It’s actually a good opportunity to check in on our mental health – rather than automatically think you feel blue on Blue Monday, reflect on your mental wellbeing and continue to do it all-year round. 7

  4. And to talk things through with other people – this is really useful for protecting our mental health, and sometimes, a problem shared can be a problem halved.8
Doing these things will also help you beat those blues: 9

  1. Focus on the good things – that are happening in your life, and try not to be dominated by things that may have gone wrong or aren’t going your way.

  2. Be grateful for what has happened – this will help you focus on the positive things that are taking place all around you. For example, you can grateful for having a good sleep, completing your work on time, your colleague helping you out or your partner doing the shopping for you.

  3. Try to smile and laugh a lot more – we’re not saying you should turn into The Joker, but studies have found that laughter can help relieve depression, stress and anxiety. A simple laugh or smile, at ourselves or other people, can instantly lift our spirits.

  4. Use positive affirmations – try to start every day with a positive thought, saying, memory or quote that sets you up for the best possible start. Don’t forget to keep reminding yourself of it throughout the day too.
For more on feeling more positive, have a read of this, ‘How to be happy: 7 tips for feeling that inner glow.’ Mental Health

Last Updated: 30th November 2020


Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs

  • Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
  • Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines. View Bhupesh's LinkedIn profile. In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.


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