'Blue Monday' is here ... but doom day just doesn't add up!
Blue Monday has long (well, 12 years) been red letter day for gloom-mongers.
But fear not today's dawn of reputedly most depressing day of the year because formula for such foreboding is not so much founded on fact as fallacy, here accomopanied by 17-strong gallery of Monday mood photos, soundtracked (totes obvs) by New Order's '83 12-incher.
"43 - 12 + the colour red x mouldy cheese - the theme songs from Friends =" would reportedly be equally scientific an equation.
But, as such pseudoscience approaches. don't just take our "glass half full" word for it. You, as our American cousins would say, do the math!
This month sees many of us make a commitment to becoming better versions of ourselves as, after excesses of festive period, booze is banished(ish), diets drawn up and "new year, new you" gym bunnies unwrap shiny new Nikes.
Inevitably, allure of ‘dry’ January soon wears off and we’re scrambling under the settee for Alan Bennett's elusive cream cracker.
Received wisdom has it realisation our new year’s resolutions are doomed to fail typically hits home on third Monday of the year.
So, are we being hoodwinked into believing it exists by Mad Men of the advertising industry, who now use it as major cash cow?
Before you find quiet corner of the room to rock, rubbing your weary eyes, let’s look at ‘science’ behind it all.
Although Blue Monday is acknowledged every year, there is no valid proof it exists beyond our imaginations.
It was, in fact, a concept invented in 2005 by holiday company Sky Travel as part of its marketing campaign.
The idea was to get potential customers thinking about booking summer holidays to beat those January blues.
The original 2005 press release claimed to have scientific research, including equations, to back up its claims.
The sum included variables - such as ‘weather’, ‘time since Christmas’, ‘debt level’, ‘motivational levels’ and ‘time since failure to keep new year's resolution’ - which scientists say aren't part of the metrical system.
Unsurprisingly, this equation has since been debunked and labelled ‘pseudoscience’.
Doctor of neuroscience and Cardiff University lecturer '‹Dean Burnett explains: “There are so many reasons to believe it’s nonsense. Firstly, the equation wasn’t the result of some psychological study by a reputable lab, but conducted by a travel company, who then fished around for a psychologist to put his name to it, to make it seem credible.”
On top of all this, Dr Burnett brands the equation “scientifically ridiculous”. He argues: "It combines things that have no quantifiable way of being combined. Debt level, time since Christmas, weather, motivation - the equation combines all these things ... but that’s not possible.
“It’s like a maths problem that goes "43 - 12 + the colour red x mouldy cheese - the theme songs from Friends =...". It’s impossible to solve this because all the individual components are so different and have no compatibility with each other.
Dr Burnett is not saying there isn’t a most depressing day, just that to find it would be incredibly long and painstaking, surveying hundreds of thousands of people over many years.
“The things that affect our mood are incredibly complex and vary tremendously from person to person. The idea that a specific set of environmental factors occurs every year on the same day, without fail, and makes the majority of the population miserable, that’s borderline farcical.”
Whether it’s a PR-driven piece of nonsense or not - and let’s face it, all signs point to it being the former - the amount of column inches given to Blue Monday could be tricking our brains into thinking it actually exists, almost like "nocebo" effect.
“It is indeed possible that constantly telling people it’s the most depressing day of the year will make them more susceptible to bad things happening and triggers for low moods, just like Friday the 13th is viewed as ‘bad luck’,” says Dr Burnett.
“The same things could happen any other day and nobody would make the link, but on that day they’re more aware of bad luck so they blame the date itself, and thus it becomes self-fulfilling.”
Blue Monday or not, here's something to look forward to, folks. It's only five months to June 19 official happiest day of the year!.