What is Blue Monday?

What is Blue Monday?

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Some months of the year tend to be easier than others. When the sun is shining and the weather is warm, people tend to feel happier than they do in the cold and darkness. A feeling of depression and sadness is so common in winter that the third Monday in January has become known as Blue Monday. Although it was originally a marketing idea, Blue Monday expresses what many people feel.

In much of Canada, January is a cold and dark month when many people want to get away to a warmer place. Many of them become depressed and gloomy. During the pandemic, the problem became even worse, with almost twice as many adults feeling depressed than in normal years. Younger people can also feel depressed, especially when they are unable to participate in their usual activities.

Even without a pandemic, people can become very sad at times, especially in winter. Scientists have even come up with a term for winter sadness: “seasonal affective disorder.” This term is used for people who have more than the usual sadness, often to the point where they become seriously depressed. In some cases, they have to use special lamps to give themselves extra light, especially in the north, where darkness can sometimes last all day during the winter.

In other areas of North America, people can still find winter very difficult. In 2005, a life coach and psychologist named Dr. Cliff Arnall came up with the idea of Blue Monday when he was trying to create a formula to decide on the saddest day of the year. He published his theory as part of an announcement for a company called Sky Travel, using the term “Blue Monday” to refer to the sense of “blue” to mean “depressed” or “sad.”

The choice of Monday was also related to how people tend to feel. Mondays can also be difficult for people because it is the beginning of the work week. They might also feel anxious about their financial situation if they have spent a lot of money over Christmas. With all of these factors, January is a natural time to feel depressed.

Many factors can contribute to feelings of sadness. The holidays are over by the third week of January, and many people have already failed at following their New Year’s resolutions. Much of Canada has only about nine hours of daylight at that time of the year, and the weather can be very cold. People cannot spend much time outside in that case, and they might not see the sun for days at a time.

Even knowing about a day named Blue Monday might make people even more sad because it reminds them of the difficulties they are having. For the travel company, that kind of feeling was a good way to encourage people to get away from the cold and to travel to warm destinations like Hawaii or the Caribbean. Even if people are unable to get away on holidays, however, they can still do something about their feelings of sadness.

You might have some ways of dealing with sadness in the cold and dark months. Maybe you go for brisk walks or play games with your family or friends. You might go to visit elderly relatives. Spending more time outside and taking Vitamin D can help. Whatever you do, you can make this winter’s Blue Monday a pleasant and happy day instead of a sad occasion.



The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. “Blue Monday Survival Guide.” https://camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/blue-monday-survival-guide.

Cleveland Clinic. “Seasonal Depression.” https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/9293-seasonal-depression.

Matti, Mariam. “Blue Monday: How to Overcome the ‘Saddest Day’ of the Year.” https://www.ctvnews.ca/lifestyle/blue-monday-how-to-overcome-the-saddest-day-of-the-year-1.4774442.

Paul, Anna. “What is Blue Monday and Why Is It Considered the Most Depressing Day of the Year?” https://metro.co.uk/2020/01/20/blue-monday-saddest-day-year-12087919/.

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