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Blue Monday: What is the science behind 'the most miserable day of the year'?

Adam Lusher:

On 18 January, it will be upon us. Brace yourself for Blue Monday, the third Monday of January – “the most depressing day of the year”, when we are all at our most melancholy, according to the psychologist Dr Cliff Arnall.

In 2005 a television publicist persuaded him to create a “scientific formula” that looked so spectacularly superscience-y that on a slow news day editors were powerless to resist.

It was: [W+(D-d)]xTQ/MxNA – where W is weather, D is debt, d monthly salary, T time since Christmas, Q time since failure of attempt to give something up, M low motivational level and NA the need to take action.

But with Blue Monday now an unstoppable PR juggernaut promoting everything in sight you could be forgiven for asking whether it is really possible to measure happiness.

Apparently, it is. Almost. And, said Glenn Everett, director of the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Measuring National Well-Being Programme: “The UK has done world-leading work on this.”

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