What colour is your Monday?

So today is Blue Monday, the most miserable day of the year. Do you believe that? Really, really, believe it? Well, Dr Cliff Arnall says it and Dr Arnall is an “ologist” (a psychologist, to be precise) and what an “ologist” says must be true, mustn’t it? And to cap it all, the good doctor is not just saying this off the top of his head, oh no: he has worked it out with mathematical equations. Case closed, would you say? Here, check it for yourself in The Independent

I’m sorry but when people come along with these one-size-fits-all simple explanations for complex phenomena, I begin to smell a rat. It’s all just a little too pat, too all-explanatory, too… well, let me just say that I detect a whiff of snake oil.

I would like to know what research the good doctor did and how he did it and what his control groups were. Now, I am not saying he didn’t do research or set up control groups. Maybe that stuff is just too boring for the media to mention so they skate over it. And we do have these mathematical equations, don’t we? Would it be just too cynical of me to query whether you can really predict the emotional climate of a whole population, individually and collectively, with equations? Doesn’t that sound a little like astrology?

But the good doctor does have powerful allies. For example, there is Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling. (Please, no wisecracks about counsellors, I’m trying to be serious here.) Philip Hodson backs up the good doctor, doesn’t he? Well, not exactly. He says that “The worst day has got to be a Monday – there is other evidence to show it is the worst day of the week.” Er, quite, but I think we knew that. And he says “a Monday”, not “Monday Jan 21st” (note that the Independent account got the date wrong, by the way). Not quite a ringing endorsement.

But then we have the unapostrophed “Samaritans spokeswoman” Kate Redway, who confirms that people do indeed feel miserable around this time though what she actually says is “this time of year can be particularly difficult” (my emphasis). I don’t see “Monday Jan 21st” in there or even “Monday”.

Never mind, assuming that there is something to the story, the good doctor provides a remedy. In sum, he says

It’s a very important thing and – if there was one message that I’d like people to take today to help them – it is to spend some time on this positive type of thinking. People who do it often do it for far longer than the period of the exercise – and feel happier as a result.

Let me see if I have got this right: If you are in a bad mood, then the remedy is to do something to put yourself in a good mood? Well, I never. I’d never have thought of that.

“Blue Monday” is a good tag, isn’t it? It’s striking and easy to remember. I bet that all over Britain today people are talking about it in their workplaces: “Oh, so that’s what’s wrong with me; I should’ve known.” It’ll catch on. The media have already taken it up. And that, my darlings, is just the problem. When people come out with these theories and the media take them up, they are swallowed by a public that never stops to ask questions. Remember MMR.

If you want to believe in Blue Monday, go ahead and believe in it. As beliefs go, it’s one of the least harmful and if it makes you realize that you can change your mood for the better by putting your mind to it, then maybe it will do you some good. Personally, I’d rather think of it as Red Monday because red is my favourite colour and makes me feel optimistic and cheerful.

Happy Red Monday!

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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5 Responses to What colour is your Monday?

  1. Well, I was actually feeling rather despondent this morning but reading that everyone else was supposedly in the same state, got my goat a bit. I dislike more than anything being part of any mass participation event or a follower of fashion. So despite the pouring rain, two sick children, raging PMT and far too much work to do, I have tried smiling. OK so maybe it is more of a grimace but I am determined I will not participate in Blue Monday. I will not be told how to feel by people with no apostrophes or those who are too lazy to proof read their articles. See – my dander is up!

    I think Red Monday may not be on for me either though – it’s not really PMT friendly! Instead I will go for Yellow Monday. Yellow is my happy colour – reminds me of sunshine and spring flowers, sitting outside with a nice glass of something rather than dashing through the rain, slipping on soggy leaves or mopping up sick.

    And if I really can’t muster cheerfulness, then my Monday will be grey, not blue.

  2. SilverTiger says:

    One should colour the days with whatever colour one finds most uplifting. I don’t expect red to suit everyone. Yellow is the colour of our front room and seems quite cheerful so perhaps it’s a good choice for you.

    The good thing about children is that they grow up and so your drudgery will soon come to an end. There is light at the end of the tunnel though the tunnel sometimes seem rather long.

    I can’t say anything about PMT, never having experienced it. I can only try to imagine it and commiserate. On second thoughts, I’d rather not imagine it. But I do commiserate.

  3. athinkingman says:

    I note you kindly restrained your comments on about members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. As I am a fully accredited member, I would have felt compelled to fight our corner. 🙂

    Regardless of the fine detail, I suppose the article was saying:
    1) People get depressed, especially at this time of the year.
    2) Part of the solution to depression is to examine the kinds of tapes you are playing yourself, your beliefs. And to ask whether those beliefs are true or helpful.

    I personally don’t have a problem with that.

  4. SilverTiger says:

    No, I think the message, as set out in the Independent, is that a specific day, viz Monday Jan 21st, is the “worst” day of the year for depression, low self-esteem, etc. Now, of course, the Indy could have misunderstood and made a dog’s breakfast of the good doctor’s thesis. In that case, we shall no doubt be treated to a correction. But then, what about the name “Blue Monday”? It’s not only the Indy that has picked this up: it was also the subject of talk radio last night. That epithet had to come from somewhere. That sounds to me very much as if the “worst day of the year” theory is what was meant literally.

    I don’t “have a problem with it”, either. I just doubt that it has any objective reality.

  5. emalyse says:

    I also feel there is a serious side of what is essentially a handy date for the purposes of publicity (like all these other days and weeks designed for handy media publicity).It highlights the availability and work of Relate and the Samaritans amongst others who are dealing with people’s very real personal problems and maybe helps ease the deluge on these services slightly by putting some fairly lightweight self-help info out there.It doesn’t matter that the date is a date of convenience (it does if you you’re pendantic about it but we’re dealing with courting the popular media here) if the publicity reaches those struggling with their own state of mental health. I can’t quite classify Blue Monday as a mass participation event or trend (owning an iPod is or a space hopper is a trend). Nobody willingly joins in with feeling depressed just too feel included.That’s being a bit dissmisive of depression and mental health problems isn’t it? (all that ‘pull your socks up’ stuff). Blue Monday is also a pop song btw hence the appeal of the wording to the media.

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