Neuroscientist calls ‘Blue Monday’ idea ‘rubbish’

January 21, 2020

If you’ve heard that the third Monday in January—January 20 this year and known as “Blue Monday”—is the saddest day of the year, or that through some dark magic the date has power over your life or mood; don’t believe it, Canoe reports.

The idea of Blue Monday first surfaced in 2005, when a UK-based company called Sky Travel identified the date using an equation relied on variables such as weather, debt, time since Christmas, and time since failure of new year’s resolutions. Since then, the notion has become a popular hook for publicists promoting everything from retail to vacation therapies.

But it’s not a real thing, experts say.

In fact, neuroscientist Dr, Dean Burnett of Wales told Canoe that he was forced to become a reluctant, but tireless, warrior fighting what he calls the “ludicrous” concept of Blue Monday after being quoted without context in an article about the day some years ago.

Burnett calls the equation, and the whole concept, “rubbish.”

“It’s not a thing,” said Burnett. “This nonsensical equation was made up by a travel company to encourage people to take more holidays this time of year, and they found an academic to put his name to it.”

Burnett, who has spent years working in psychiatry and has an extensive background in mental health, told the Toronto-based news outlet,  “There is no such thing as a 24-hour depression, like a flu. Mental health just doesn’t work that way and the idea that it does is actually quite harmful.”

Nonetheless, the idea gets a lot of traction through social media.

“It’s a work of genius: Mid-January everyone is a bit bleak. If you are led to believe it’s the most depressing day of the year, it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Any other day you might not give any attention to the little negative things that happen, but, ‘Oh, it’s Blue Monday’ legitimizes focusing on it,” Burnett said.

He hopes to turn the day around and use it to promote mental health by encouraging people to support mental-health charities, as he is doing through a gofundme page entitled “Rethink Blue Monday.

“If we can associate it with a more genuinely positive thing, then we can help redirect it to something more positive. Mental health is an ongoing problem, not something that happens one day a year,” Burnett told Canoe.

Research contact: @canoe

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