January 16, 2017, is Blue Monday, supposedly the saddest day of the year. But is it just a myth? Find out the story behind Blue Monday—and how to keep it from affecting you.

By Lauren Phillips
January 13, 2017

This article originally appeared on Coastal Living.

Blue Monday: Supposedly the “most depressing day of the year,” caused by a combination of post-holiday blues, guilt over abandoned New Year’s resolutions, cold, overcast weather, and other equally dismal factors, this particularly gloomy day strikes on January 16 in 2017.

But is it something you really need to be worried about?

The easy answer is no. Since 2005, the myth of Blue Monday has haunted the world, all thanks to an ad campaign from Sky Travel. For the campaign, U.K. self-described “psychologist, life coach and happiness consultant” Cliff Arnall helped develop an equation for calculating this most depressing day of the year—and Sky Travel used it to convince people that Blue Monday was the right time to plan a vacation to fight these winter doldrums. In the years since, Arnall has become an activist to #StopBlueMonday, and Blue Monday has become more of a gentle joke than anything else.

But a more accurate answer is that January is one of the coldest months of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, with brutal weather and gray skies. All Christmas decorations have been taken down and stored away, and there are months to go until spring. While Blue Monday is merely a myth, the winter blues—a.k.a. seasonal affective disorder—are very real, and January’s typically poor weather does nothing to help them.

So, whether you’re falling prey to the Blue Monday myth or just feeling a bit of the winter blues, here are five ways to feel better on Monday (and for the rest of the winter):

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