Blue Monday: Tips on being happy on the "most depressing day of the year"

Today, January 20th, is so-called Blue Monday, apparently the most depressing day of the year. While experts do not believe in this day, they are still willing to give some tips on making sure you stay happy today.

"There is no scientific evidence for the existence of a day like Blue Monday," psychologist Jean-Pierre van de Ven of MIND Korrelatie said to Hart van Nederland. "The term was invented by a psychologist, commissioned by a travel agency that wanted to sell more sun vacations. It is purely a marketing term that spread like a virus."

Positivity expert Mark Verhees of company Voor Positiviteit said the same to De Gelderlander. "There are negative things in every day and it is always a challenge to see what is positive in a day. It is not up to someone else to decide what kind of day it is for you, right?" He called it a pity that "Blue Monday" is a thing. "In general, what you pay attention to grows. My message is: don't be fooled. That it is Blue Monday des not mean that it is the most depressing day for you personally?"

Yet they acknowledge that people may experience a certain sadness today, because the term Blue Monday is so common. "In that sense it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If it's just about how annoying a certain day is, people can get sad about that fact alone," Van de Ven said. 

To avoid extra sadness, Van de Ven has the following advice. "First of all, you'd do well to exercise regularly. Not just on Blue Monday itself, but on a structural basis." He also stressed the importance of expressing yourself. "And not against one person, but try to share your feelings with several people. The knowledge that there is a group of people you can fall back on, already makes you feel good."

Verhees also advised exercise. There are also other ways of improving your mood, he said to De Gelderlander. "By consciously thinking about what is good in your life. By doing things that give you energy, that you enjoy," he said. "Recognize that some things just are what they are. If it rains, you can not change anything about it. But does that determine how you should feel? You do not have to let your mood by limited by that. Look especially at the things you can change."

The term "Blue Monday" was coined by British psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2005. He claimed to have developed a scientific formula to prove the existence of the most depressing day. His colleagues in the field immediately challenged that. And British newspaper The Guardian soon after wrote that a travel agency offered to pay scientists to link their name to the theory, to give it more credibility.