Just in case you didn't know, Blue Monday officially the most depressing day of the year. To mark the occasion, Ron McKay forces his chin into an upward position and takes a closer look at the origins of Blue Monday

This is one of those lightbulb moments. So look away now if you are suggestible to advertising messages or superstitious about days of the week. Because – too late! – it’s Blue Monday tomorrow.

It is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year but, strangely, it always pops up regularly on the third Monday in January, just as if it was an anniversary to garland in misery-relieving expenditure, which of course it is.

Mondays have always been the least favourite day of the week, probably because those who are lucky enough to have jobs are grudgingly ungrateful for having to return to them and those who haven’t can’t pull off the duvet.

But it wasn’t until 15 years ago that it was properly commercialised.

It came in a press release from Sky Travel, postulating in utterly unconvincing pseudoscience, that the worst day could be plotted accurately using a complex (and utterly nonsensical) equation which involved weather, debt levels, time since Christmas, how long since giving up New Year’s resolutions – and the IQ of the adherent for all I know.

It was credited in the press release to Cliff Arnall, at the time a tutor at a further education college attached to Cardiff University. He’s Welsh and describes himself as a “freelance happiness guru”. Arnall picked the day, he said, because he’d been asked to choose the best day to book a summer holiday.

In 2018, after everyone with something to sell had piled on to Blue Monday, Arnall tried to reclaim the day, this time for Virgin Atlantic. That’s the company with the stake in failing Flybe, the airline the Government wants to bail out, and the associate company that will relieve you of your blues, and about quarter of a million bucks, and take you into space if it can ever get the technology to work.

There have been several songs about Blue Monday, which is kind of counterintuitive, probably the most famous being the one from New Order, which could be about drug abuse, a failed relationship, child abuse, or absolutely nothing to do with any of these.

The title doesn’t feature in the song, but it is certainly not to do with the former singer (in the previous incarnation Joy Division), the band have claimed. Ian Curtis killed himself on May 18, 1980, at the age of 23. And no, it was a Sunday.

The band’s bassist, Peter Hook, recalls that they actually recorded the song on a Monday, they were all feeling quite miserable and that he was reading a book about the American singer Fats Domino who recorded a song called, well, you’ve guessed it.

Fats died in October 2017, on a Tuesday unfortunately. Buddy Holly covered the song and he, too, died on a Tuesday, although this is not the start of a conspiracy theory.

By now you’ll have been inundated with other media tips about how to ward off the worst of the day.

One psychiatrist who has “partnered” (ie taken the coin) with the Dutch airline KLM reckons you should take 15 minutes to do absolutely nothing. But I don’t think you should abbreviate your idleness in this way. Just let it stretch.

And as for “reaching out to tell someone how you are feeling”, that’s a recipe for rejection. Much better to ask someone how blue they are feeling and when you hear their ghastly, self-centred litany of misery you can smile, because it’s sure to have made you feel better. Schadenfreude is healing.

One insurance company, Shepherds Friendly (a trade description offence right there because I’ve met some and all they do is moan about being out on the hills, or the collie not understanding them) says you should make sure you have money saved.

How plain daft is that? If you had any money saved you wouldn’t be wrapped in a blanket staring at a gas fire you can’t afford to put on.

Grazia magazine reckons you should compliment five people before midday. But as this involves getting up and out and confronting total strangers who will surely have you arrested for stalking, this seems curiously inappropriate advice.

As does finding out what makes you smile. That’s obvious. See schadenfreude above.

Forbes, the billionaire’s bible, is similarly far off the mark. Redesign your environment? You are probably feeling more like destroying it, which surely can’t be what the magazine is advocating.

As is putting aside 15 minutes (what is it with these recurrent quarter-hours of self-indulgence?) to “learn something new”, which Jill Gugino Pantes advocates.

Anything you can learn in 15 minutes isn’t worth learning. Apart from how to spell schadenfreude, of course.

What is really pernicious about these “cures” for Blue Monday is they assume that you can just snap out of depression by watching a box set, taking exercise or cuddling a puppy whereas it’s a severe mental illness affecting about one in 10 of us.

Mental health charity Mind says Blue Monday trivialises people with mental health issues. A low mood, it points out, is not the same as depression. And depression, unlike the seasons, doesn’t follow a linear route.

“Tell me how do I feel, Tell me now, how do I feel?” New Order asked in the eponymous song. Better for ignoring the nonsense about tomorrow

On a lighter note, on June 24, 2010, Sky Travel, which kicked all of this off, announced its closure because of competition from the internet. And, yes, it was a Monday.