Back in 2005, a psychologist named Dr. Cliff Arnall dubbed the third Monday in January "Blue Monday" and declared that he had determined it to be the most miserable day of the year. Since then, companies have found ways to hawk their products to this supposedly dismal day, while the media cover "Blue Monday" with articles accompanied by images of very sad people (see left; we're not immune to the trend). Just one problem: Arnall has never actually released any data backing up his claim.
He says his "equation" takes into account a whole slew of factors, including weather, post-holiday debt, time since Christmas, failed New Year's resolutions, and a number of other things. To actually analyze such a huge amount of information would take an awful lot of work, the BBC points out, so it's not all that surprising that there's no proof "Blue Monday" exists. What we do have proof of: Suicides are actually more common in the spring than in January, and Mondays in general aren't any worse than most other weekdays. The whole "Blue Monday" idea could have a negative effect on our conversation about mental health, writes Claudia Hammond, since we already tend to use the word "depressing" a bit too capriciously. "So, not only does Blue Monday appear to be a myth," she concludes, "but so does the idea that we don’t like Mondays in general." (Read more Blue Monday stories.)