Blue Monday: What is it and where did it come from?



16th January 2023

~ 3 min read


#BlueMonday is currently trending at #1 on Twitter. But what is Blue Monday? Where did it come from and what does it mean? 

‘Blue Monday’ is a day which generally falls on the third Monday of the month in January. The term was coined by psychologist, Cliff Arnall, back in 2004, when travel company, Sky Travel, asked him for a 'scientific formula' for the January blues. 

The ‘formula’, which has been disputed over the years, takes into account many factors, including post-holiday blues, bad weather, debt level, low motivation levels, and so on. All of these factors have resulted in the day being known as the most depressing of the year. 

Despite originally being coined for marketing purposes, in order to encourage people to book holidays, the term is now part of everyday vocabulary, particularly widely used across the Northern Hemisphere (due to the weather conditions, Blue Monday doesn’t apply to the Southern Hemisphere).

Blue Monday has been subject to amounting criticism over the years, with many saying the term adds anxiety and pressure to an ordinary day. 

In response, many brands have got creative with their campaigns and initiatives to turn the day around into something more positive. Here are a few examples of how some companies have taken the day back.

Taking the day back

The Samaritans are taking a different approach, challenging the meaning behind the day by dubbing the day #BrewMonday and encouraging people to use the day as a chance to check in with friends and family. 

On their website, they say “At Samaritans we know there’s no such thing as ‘Blue Monday’ – we all have our good days and our bad days, and those aren’t for the calendar to decide”.

Following in their footsteps are Pret A Manger, who have given out 120,000 free hot drinks to combat Blue Monday. They also created their Make Someone Smile initiative, which enables customers who are given special takeaway cup sleeves to pass this onto a friend or stranger, so they can redeem a free drink. 

Phsycologist Dr George Fieldman said ‘Altruism or the act of doing something for somebody else at a cost to yourself has a fascinating effect on us. It can help us feel better about ourselves, and a simple act of kindness can create authentic feelings of joy’.

Normalising conversations

Many organisations, Croud included, now use the day as a means to discuss wellbeing and mental health. Mental health charity, Mind, are big advocates for normalising these conversations. Starting #BlueAnyDay, they emphasise that mental health struggles such as depression aren’t a one day occurrence, and the ability to reach out and talk about wellbeing is important each day of the year, not just Blue Monday.

With ‘Blue Monday’ falling within Croud’s Wellness Month, the day does provide us with another great opportunity to focus our attention on wellbeing. Our internal Culture Club is helping to take the day back with ‘Tickle me Monday’ by sharing Croud’s best jokes throughout the day. We’ve also recently partnered with Wellness Cloud, a wellbeing provider that offers support services and content for all of life’s challenges, and we have some exciting initiatives with Mind coming up in 2023.

So, from having a virtual cup of tea or yoga session with colleagues, to just checking in on friends and family - take back the day this Blue Monday and continue to normalise the conversation around mental health and wellness!

Sign up to Croud’s Digital Digest

Get Croud's monthly newsletter, which is packed with the latest news from Croud from across the globe, along with updates and commentary around the latest developments in the digital marketing space.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.