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The Science of Blue Monday

The jingle bells are a distant memory, the New Year fireworks are fading away, and all you’ve got left from the Christmas period is a smaller bank balance and a bigger waistline – and what’s that? Gloomy weather all around? Gosh, it must be #BlueMonday

Today, (being the third Monday of January) if you hadn’t already guessed, is ‘Blue Monday’ - supposedly ‘the most depressing day of the year’. Apparently brought on by a combination of poor weather, low motivation, debt problems, a return to work after Christmas time off and an abandonment of New Year resolutions.

But is there any science to Blue Monday?

In short, no. But you came here for science so here’s a Blue Monday equation:

The concept of Blue Monday was first coined by Sky Travel back in 2005 when during one of their marketing campaigns, they wanted to get customers thinking about the summer holidays to avoid thinking about the January blues.

Now, you may be surprised to hear but that previously mentioned equation may have actually been used at one point as, in accordance with the original 2005 Sky Travel press release, claims to have arrived from scientific research.

Sky claimed it had researched when people were typically booking holidays, paired with factors like gloomy weather, time since Christmas, debt level and motivation levels.

Unsurprisingly the equation was debunked and labelled pseudoscience.

Doctor of neuroscience and Cardiff University lecturer, Dean Burnett, wrote in a Guardian column, said: "It is unscientific. It is pseudoscientific. It is uberpseudoscientific." He added: "The equation itself is farcical."

The equation was published under the name Dr Cliff Arnall, who was supposedly a psychologist in an annexed department of Cardiff University.

However, a statement was released on behalf of the university claiming no one in the department has ever heard of a Dr Arnall – how eerie!

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