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It’s the most depressing time of the year…

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UK psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall, via elaborate mathematical formula, has determined January 24th to be the most depressing day of the year. A specialist in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff, Arnall figured out that factors such as weather, debt, monthly salary, time since Christmas, low motivational levels, and the “need to take action” all factor into the late January malaise.

The ramifications of this discovery effect everything from peak holiday travel bookings to the treatment of SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Arnall found that while days technically get longer after Dec. 21, cyclonic weather systems take hold in January, bringing low, dark clouds to Britain. Meanwhile, the majority of people break their healthy resolutions six to seven days into the new year, and even the hangers-on have fallen off the wagon, torn off the nicotine patches and eaten the fridge empty by the third week. Any residual dregs of holiday cheer and family fun have kicked the bucket by Jan. 24.

“Following the initial thrill of New Year’s celebrations and changing over a new leaf, reality starts to sink in,” Arnall said. “The realization coincides with the dark clouds rolling in and the obligation to pay off Christmas credit card bills.”

Maybe January 24th should be dubbed as a new pseudo-holiday where people take extra lamps to work, get lei-d, throw on Polynesian tunes, and get slap happy on drinks with umbrellas and fruit dangling from the sugar-encrusted rim.

Suggested name of holiday: The Most Depressing Day of the Year Day.

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  • I think that (from my own perspective at least) one of the big contributing factors is that most people get paid their December pay earlier than usual, thereby falling into the six-week-month situation. The 24th is the start of that final week.

    Roll on payday (Friday)!

  • Eric Olsen

    Very interesting post Eric, although it reminds me I am in a pretty shitty mood: it hasn’t been above 20F in days, I’ve been fighting off a cold for days and it is clear as of today I have lost, the days are still short and the light deficit grows while the novelty of early winter has worn off – yep, Jan 2 pretty well sucks

  • Thanks Eric – I must admit to feeling a little bit guilty about posting this as I currently reside under the SoCal sun. I grew up in New York though, so I’m familiar with the bleak days of winter.

  • I love it when someone comes up with a name for something that I’m actually experiencing. Today hasn’t been my favorite one this year, that’s for sure. I second your e(motion) for naming the 24th the Most Depressing Day of the Year. Here’s to better days!

  • Thanks mpho, and I hope the 25th begins to get a little less sucky for you. I think the emphasis on light and drinks with umbrellas are the key element to the holiday — the name is just the start!

    Strangely, 1/24/05 is looking like it might turn out pretty awesomely for me, as I may be on my way to first post-grad school full-time job…

  • Your post has depressed me because it reminds me that I find April 15th to be the most depressing day of the year.


  • bhw

    Strangely, 1/24/05 is looking like it might turn out pretty awesomely for me, as I may be on my way to first post-grad school full-time job…

    I remember that feeling. I’d been living so lean that I didn’t know what to do with the extra income for a while.

    I eventually figured it out.

    Good luck and congratulations!

  • As a dot-com New Economy refugee and bearer of two-plus years of debt for full-time grad school, I’m thinking any and all funds are going to be headed the way of the credit card gods for the foreseeable future.

    Thanks though — not quite ready for congratulations, but with a little luck, could be the end of the week!

  • Ayu

    I grew up in Indonesia, a tropical country with never-ending sunshine. I’m not fond of winter, but I believe that everyday is the same — perhaps with different levels of luck though. Yet I do agree on your idea of suggesting a holiday on January 24. Holidays are always welcomed! But then again, it is my dad’s birthday. It would not be fun to celebrate birthday on the most depressing day of the year.

  • Eric Olsen

    happy birthday Ayu’s dad and hopefully congrats to Eric. Eric, you could declare yourself an “emerging nation” and ask to have your debt forgiven

  • Now there’s an impressive idea if I’ve ever heard of one. If nation-states can do it, why not me, right?