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LUKE BURBANK, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Luke Burbank.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

And I'm Madeleine Brand.

BURBANK: Well, it's Monday. And without getting too Garfield on it, Mondays can be a little depressing. But if you're feeling especially not excited today, there might actually be a scientific reason. A Welsh psychologist named Dr. Cliff Arnall at Cardiff University says that today, Monday, January 22nd is the most depressing day of the year.

Dr. Arnall joins us now. Thanks for coming on DAY TO DAY.

Dr. CLIFF ARNALL (Psychologist, Cardiff University): It's a pleasure.

BURBANK: Did you roll off the couch where you were quietly sobbing to yourself under a blanket?

Dr. ARNALL: No. I've been having a really good day. There's been a lot of media interest. So I got to talk with some interesting people, and I had a really nice lunch with all my best friends.

BURBANK: Well, for you it's not a depressing day because you came up with this study, but what actually did you find? Why is today the most depressing day of the year?

Dr. ARNALL: Well, there are six factors in total. We've got weather, and typically January is cold, windy, there's lots of rain and we've got snow in the U.K. today. We're looking at the debt due to Christmas, so people overspending over Christmas and their credit card bills are coming through now. So there's a bit of anxiety about whether they're going to be able to cover those costs.

Then we've got another interesting factor, which is the time since a failed quit attempt. So these are people who have made some good changes on New Year's Day, a New Year's resolution - that it's around this time that people start going back to their old behavior. So they've gone back to their smoking or their diet, or gym regime has started to falter. So they're kind of beating themselves up and feeling a bit of a failure around this time.

And then we've got a couple of others to do with kind of getting back into the routine of work and taking the kids to school. That kind of thing tends to be on the low side. And, again, we have another interesting factor, which is an aide is the need to take some action. So even people who are feeling lethargic and not that excited about life at the moment, that there's a kind of need to take some action, a feeling that if I just made some small steps then I can start making things a little better.

BURBANK: So basically, we're in the absolute doldrums of the year. Like the holidays are over, the bills are coming due. We've realized that no, this is not going to be the year that we get totally in shape, and it's a long way before we get to the next big, you know, exciting holiday. And it's really rainy in a lot of places to boot. So you've got all those factors. But doesn't it kind of make it worse when you actually give this a title as the most depressing day? Isn't that just, you know, adding insult to injury?

Dr. ARNALL: Well, I think for some people it will. I mean, some people will see it as a self-fulfilling prophecy. So if they're told that it's going to be a bad day, then they will have a bad day. But I'd much prefer people to hear about this and say, you know, let's have some fun today. Let's, you know, make today the start - a springboard of good things to happen.

BURBANK: Well, now that we have really plumbed the depths of the bummer-ness that is today, what can we look forward to? Is there a happiest day of the year?

Dr. ARNALL: There is a happiest day of the year. And this year it's going to be on Friday the 22nd of June. So we don't have that long to wait. And I highly encourage your listeners to think about what they can do in the meantime, and not just to go on a crash diet just so that you're in shape for summer, but just do some gentle, small steps in between that time. Summer will be here soon.

BURBANK: Thank you for that reminder. Dr. Cliff Arnall, a psychologist at Cardiff University in Wales. Dr. Arnall, thanks for coming on DAY TO DAY.

Dr. ARNALL: My pleasure.

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