The holidays are over, new year’s resolutions have been broken, and you can’t seem to shake your cold. To top it off, 2011 is off to a rocky start with horrific headlines like the shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Arizona. Tired and overwhelmed, or just downright depressed? You're not alone. National acts of violence aside, Blue Monday — the third Monday of the new year — is called the most depressing day on the calendar.

Started as part of a publicity campaign by Sky Travel, this notable date was first published in a press release by psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, who at the time worked at the Centre for Lifelong Learning, part of Cardiff University in Wales. Arnall devised a literal mathematical formula to arrive at the Blue Monday theory. It factors in weather, debt, and time since Christmas, timing of new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels, and the urgent feeling that you need to take action. It also reflects that Monday is regarded as the worst day of the week with many dreading the prospect of returning to work.

But the third Monday in January may be redeemed in some eyes. The Guardian calls Arnall's mathematical formula "arguably hokey." As The Guardian reports, "This dubious bit of math was used to give academic weight to a press release put out by Sky Travel to encourage people to cheer themselves up with a holiday."

How to combat the blues on Blue Monday? Arnall advises via the Daily Mail: people can "use the day as a springboard for a higher quality life. For example keeping Christmas spending to a strict budget next year will make you less depressed in the last week of January."

Conversely, the happiest day of the year falls around midsummer. On the upside? There are some Blue Monday enthusiasts who believe it actually falls on the Monday of the last full week in January — which would mean we'd celebrate it next week. So now you have time to prepare.


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