THE last Monday in January has been dubbed the most depressing day of the year, thanks to a perceived mixture of bad weather, post-Christmas blues, debt, break-ups and divorce.
But this year the dubious distinction of being the day in the calendar when we feel most down is up for debate.
According drinks company Upbeat, January 6 is the “most depressing day of the year” as it is officially the first Monday back to work for many of us.
Researchers created an online ‘barometer’, analysing two million tweets over the last three years for negative language and bad mood indicators.
A spokesman said: “The results not only expose (the previous) ‘Blue Monday’ to be a myth but also reveal a nation struggling to overcome a lack of sleep and bemoaning an inability to keep New Year resolutions.”
Meanwhile, Susan Eskinazi, chief executive for DivorceDepot.co.uk, has nicknamed yesterday ‘Divorce Monday’, saying it was the most popular day to file for divorce.
According to the company, more than 1.8 million couples argue over the festive break, but other media outlets have variously claimed that last Thursday and Friday were ‘Divorce day’.
Emyr Williams, senior lecturer in psychology at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, is keen to pour cold water on whole business.
He said: “I can see why some people believe they feel more depressed after Christmas, but to say there’s one specific day seems a bit ridiculous, really.
“Of course, we spend the festive period eating, drinking and socialising with family and friends and work just isn’t that much fun for everybody.
“But it’s down to individual differences.”
Even the numbers are slightly questionable.
Mr Williams said that, even if it were possible to test the mood of the entire nation and pinpoint the single most depressing day, it would most likely be a different day every year.
He said: “There are too many variables. It’s not as simple as saying: ‘this is what it was last year’.
“I’ve studied stats and there is this idea that you can view the world through numbers, but the data is dependent on so many factors.
“For instance, tennis fans will have a different ‘most depressing day’ to football fans, and supporters of different football teams will have different ‘blue days’ to each other.”
For Mr Williams, Monday was his first day back in work, which was a bit of a shock to the system.
“Sunday was a ‘duvet day’,” he said. “I wasn’t even awake at lunchtime, so I’m having to adjust a bit. I miss my bed!
“But I was talking to a colleague who was very relieved to get back to work, as they’d had visitors all through the holiday and that’s hard work too.”
There might be something in the idea of a sharp rise in divorce applications in the month of January.
Mr Williams said: “From a psychological perspective, there have been academic studies that suggest that having to spend prolonged amounts of time with people will exacerbate any existing cracks in the relationship.
“So if there are any problems already there, the holiday season will make them more obvious.
“But if the relationship is strong, it will show that too. So it can be positive as well as negative.”
Of course, pure chance means that for some people, January is not going to be a happy month – statistically some will suffer ‘Blue Mondays’ or ‘Divorce Days’.
We asked people across the region whether they thought there was anything to the ‘Blue Monday’ myth, or if they had experienced more than the usual debt, bad weather and relationship breakdowns in January.
Unlucky Lisa Redman, from Oswestry, said: “All three applied to me. Such is life.”
Wayne Jones, 31, of Wrexham, said he hated January as it was tax and VAT bill month, while Tom Hughes, 29, of Wrexham, sympathised with those faced with money trouble.
He said: “January is a hard time for some people – also for people on low and zero hour contracts.
“As money flow falls at this time of year employers can’t employ people as normal and this is hard for both employer and employee.”
Alex Parkinson, 32, of Chester, said: “I think January tends to be naturally ‘lamer’ than pretty much any other month.
“Going back to work, plus the weather is constant rain and wind. I certainly wouldn’t say it’s depressing, just a bit crap.”
But Noel Davies, of Wrexham, said: “To me January, contrary to public opinion, is the time we start climbing out of the winter, the nights start getting longer and we know that spring is on its way.
“I have already seen some daffodils coming through. I know the weather’s not good at the moment but keep thinking positive thoughts.
“Spring will soon be here and with it all the new growth, spring lambs, the caravan opens again.”
Annie Jones, 27, of Wrexham, said: “It’s a brand new year. It’s time to put all the rubbish of last year behind you.
“Don’t let the rain bring you down. Make your own sunshine.”
Mandy Neal, 48, of Wrexham, said: “January is fine. It’s just the weather and the realisation you have eaten and spent too much in December that’s depressing.
“Beans on toast for the month and by February your waistline and bank balance will be sorted.”
Cheryl Brett, 50, of Wrexham, said: “I love January because it’s the month of my birth, but because I am working nights while kids have been off school it’s a nightmare trying to sleep in the day!”
Jason Hill, 43, of Wrexham, said: “Personally, January is much the same as any other month.”
Peter Alexander, 43, who works across Flintshire and Wrexham, said: “I’m actually pretty glad to be back at work. I’m feeling rested and productive. Yes, the weather’s lousy but the days are getting longer.”
Jackie Aitken, 54, of Wrexham, has a solution to the blues, regardless of which day they fall on.
She said: “We like to go away the first week in January which means we completely forget about all that stress and have a real chilled-out time.”
Mike Patchen, 56, of Buckley, was pragmatic.
He said: “There’s nothing you can do about the weather. If your relationship has broken down you obviously weren’t meant for each other and debt can be avoided with a little planning or even managed if your already down that road.
“There are a lot worse things in life to be concerned about – I know. I’ve been there.”