Blue Monday - fact or fiction?

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Health Assured team

17 December 2019

As we approach the New Year, it’s important for employees and employers alike to be made aware of the facts (and fiction) that surrounds ‘Blue Monday’.


What is Blue Monday?

Blue Monday is a name given to a day in January (typically the third Monday of the month) claimed to be the most depressing day of the year. Psychologist Cliff Arnall, while conducting research for former UK holiday company, Sky Travel, coined the concept in 2004.


To lead him to his conclusion, Arnall developed a formula that considered many aspects of the new year that can affect the typical employee’s mental health, including; weather, debt, monthly salary, time passed since Christmas, non-fulfilled New Year resolutions and low motivational levels.


Is Blue Monday real?

January is often considered the most depressing month of year. In fact, research conducted by iReach Insights found that 56% of people in Ireland believe that January is the most depressing month, and that 51% of people under the age of 34 feel low and deflated following Christmas.


It’s easy to believe why people think January is the most depressing month in the calendar. The days are shorter, the weather is cold and wet and many of us have already given up on our New Year resolutions. However, there are strong arguments against the idea of Blue Monday as well...


The concept of Blue Monday has since been disregarded and considered as pseudoscience by many experts. They believe that while the initial formula behind the concept had merit, it has since taken on a new life as a means for travel companies to sell summer holidays during the slow winter months through the use of marketing and PR.


Combating Blue Monday

While there is evidence to suggest that Blue Monday is simply a marketing ploy, it’s important not to completely disregard Arnall's theory and the mental health effects that the winter months can bring.


Below we have listed several tips on how to combat the effects of the January blues and the best ways to protect your general wellbeing in the New Year.


  1. Sunlight - Natural light helps stabilise serotonin and triggers endorphins, both mood-boosting hormones. Try to get outside as much as you can during the day to give your wellbeing a positive boost.
  2. Exercise - Steady exercise such as walking, swimming and cycling will boost endorphins, and will leave you feeling calmer and happier.
  3. Be sociable - The biggest mistake people can make is to shut themselves off from the rest of the world until February. The need to hibernate may be financially motivated but being sociable does not have to cost money. You could host game and movie nights for your friends or even Skype your loved ones regularly.
  4. Set achievable targets - If your New Year’s resolutions are losing their appeal by mid-January, why not set yourself a completely unrelated mini goal to achieve on Blue Monday? It could be as simple as a DIY project or de-cluttering a space in your home. You’ll end the day with a sense of achievement and you just might remember why you set those bigger, long-term resolutions on New Year’s Eve.


While the legitimacy of Blue Monday is often debated this time of year, there is no doubting the mental health effects of the winter months. Therefore it is vital that you make an effort to protect your wellbeing.



If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

UK: 0800 030 5182

ROI: 1800 936 071

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