We all know how the seasons can impact our moods. Going from the warm relaxation of summer to a cold grey winter can be a tough swap, but that’s not to say it’s all bad. However, for years there has been the idea of ‘Blue Monday’; a day which has become infamous for being the saddest day of the year… At least that’s according to a 2005 campaign from travel company, Sky Travel, which picked up momentum and stuck. This year, Blue Monday falls on January 16th.
To us at Modern Classic Digital, Blue Monday is a pretty negative way to kick-off a new year, and we’re not having it. In fact, neither are the BBC, Metro, or Forbes.
So to get to the bottom of whether Blue Monday really is as sad as its reputation suggests, we used a data-led approach utilising information from both the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and Google Trends to find out how blue, Blue Monday is.
Mood analysis: quarterly
According to the Office for National Statistics’ quarterly report on well-being, no three-month period of a year has repeated itself as having the lowest wellbeing for four years. That means since 2019, the quarterly time period with the lowest feeling of wellbeing hasn’t been the same twice.
To explain the wellbeing report in more detail, the UK government carry out a survey with the aim of getting an idea of the nation’s overall feeling based around four simple questions, which are as follows:
How satisfied are you by life?
Do you feel your life is worthwhile?
How happy do you feel?
How anxious do you feel?
All questions are ranked out of 10, with 10 being a positive response, and 0 being a negative one. Using this data, we combined them to find the ‘overall well-being’ which is represented as a score out of 10, with 10 being a perfect life where nothing is wrong is completely satisfying.
From Q1 of 2019 all the way through to Q2 of 2022, January only made it into the ‘unhappiest quarter’ once, which was Q1 of 2021; but that’s likely influenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Christmas lockdown. Otherwise, January was a generally good time for people according to the ONS.
Here are the points of each year with the lowest well-being rating:
2019: Q3 (July to September)
2020: Q4 (October to December)
2021: Q1 (January to March)
2022: Q2 (April to June)
So, the ONS says that the first quarter of the year really isn’t anything to worry about.
Mood analysis: weekly
We looked at Google Trends across 2021 and 2022 for the search term ‘anxiety’ to help us plot a calendar to see how each week varied. We picked the term ‘anxiety’ because it’s a key term used by the ONS in their well-being report for the question ‘how anxious do you feel?’. While other terms were considered, this term gave the fairest and most in-depth representation of data.
The calendar represents the search interest for the term ‘anxiety’, with red being a high search interest and green being a low search. An immediate trend we see is that searches are higher in the colder months and lower in the warmer months. According to Blue Monday, January should see a peak in searches, but in 2021 it was far from it. In fact, when Blue Monday took place in 2021 (18th January), search interest was at an average, but in April it was at its peak.
Looking at the annual search from 2021 to 2022, ‘anxiety’ saw a 5% year on year decrease, which could be down to the fact that COVID-19 measures were easing more noticeably. But, while 2022 saw less interest in the search term, January and February came out as the months that saw the most searches.
The week of Blue Monday 2022 (17th January) did not see a spike in searches for the term ‘anxiety’.
So, how blue is Blue Monday?
It’s really not that blue. January is cold and grey, but otherwise Blue Monday is just a calendar folktale created for a marketing campaign in an effort to get people booking holidays.
More importantly though, people still feel down on the day even if it does happen to fall on a slightly superstitious Monday.
At Modern Classic we know the importance of looking after your mental health. We don’t want anyone feeling blue, so have provided some links to mental health support sources, which we enjoyed reading and wanted to share:
Mind: How to improve your mental wellbeing
Mental Health Foundation: Our best mental health tips - backed by research
NHS - Every Mind Matters: Top tips to improve your mental wellbeing
We hope everyone has a fantastic year and embraces this completely normal Monday.