It is supposedly the most depressing day of the year.
READ MORE: What are the two paths to happiness?
But research shows we’re a happy bunch here in Lancashire with plenty to smile about this Blue Monday – the day dubbed the most depressing of the year.
According to latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, Lancashire’s population of 1.5 million people are a smiling bunch, priding themselves on high levels of happiness.
READ MORE: Reasons to be cheerful in Lancashire
The latest findings show that residents in the Ribble Valley and Wyre are among the happiest in the whole country.
And while Preston and Blackpool are slightly behind the pack when it comes to Lancashire’s districts, levels of happiness are still high, accompanied by lower feelings of anxiety.
“We have loads of developments currently going on in the city centre,” said Preston-born entrepreneur Simon Rigby. “With the shared zones and the public area being built on the Tithebarn side of the bus station to make the city even more accessible than it already is.
“We’ve great things at the Harris Museum, the Flag Market, and the fantastic investment at the new Preston Market.”
Mr Rigby added: “We’ve invested £10m into the Guild Hall, taking the best of what’s available in any great city in the country and put it all together under one roof.
“Preston has always been a great place for business. It’s now about making it a great place for having as much fun as possible as well. The mixture of public money and private investment is synonymous with the north’s ability to be self-starters and move things forward.
“Preston is an example to everybody else.”
For Chorley comedian Steve Royle, Blue Monday will be anything but that.
He said: “How can anyone be depressed on a Monday when your kids are at school?
“On Saturdays and Sundays you’re caught ferrying them around to various clubs; Monday’s are really quiet there’s no way it’s depressing.
“Blue Monday should be in the summer holidays after about a week when the kids start saying ‘I’m bored’ and have nothing to do and you’re having to fork out £30 for a cinema ticket and bag of popcorn.”
Mark Broadhurst, service director of health and wellbeing at Wyre Council isn’t surprised his district is among the happiest around.
He said: “We have residents who simply do the things that make them happy more often. With our great parks, fells and beaches we have a great natural environment.Working in our communities we are striving to encourage and develop more of these positive activities.”
Lancashire County Council cabinet member for health and wellbeing, coun Shaun Turner said: “We are blessed with the amount of green space and countryside in Lancashire such as the Forest of Bowland in the east, for lovely country walks.
“We’re also a gateway to the Lake District which is really great. It’s a cracking place to call home.”
The figures come from the ONS’ annual report on personal well-being in the UK, which estimates life satisfaction, feelings of worthwhileness, happiness and anxiety.
Tots’ birthdays gives families reason to celebrate
Today will be anything but blue for two sets of parents who are celebrating their children’s first birthdays.
Louise Cookson and James Gough, from Fulwood, are celebrating the first birthday of their daughter Isabel.
To celebrate, they are taking the little one to Old Holly Farm in Garstang followed by swimming with mum and dad.
Elswick-born Louise said: “It’s a really big thing for us. The day is not just Isabel’s first birthday but a day that marks our first year as parents.”
Emma Shahsvar and Robin Horsfall will also be celebrating with their little one, Izabella Jean Horsfall, who like Isabel, was born on January 15 last year.
Preston-born Emma said: “Monday sees her actual birthday and Izabella will be with all her nursery school friends, singing songs, playing party games and no doubt eating more cake. In the evening we are planning on taking her out for dinner so all her family can see how she attempts to blow out the candles.”
The not-so-Blue Monday celebrations are set to continue throughout the week, with Emma and Robin throwing Izabella a grand tea part on Sunday at Whittle-le-Woods Village Hall, where her favourite Disney characters from Frozen are set for a special guest appearance.
The family are also taking Izabella to a ‘Cake Smash’ photo-shoot, where she is set to get very messy with a giant cup-cake and a professional photographer to capture the moment.
32-year-old Emma said: “Our lives were changed forever with the birth of Izabella and we wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Is Blue Monday credible?
Is it really the most depressing day of the year? And who even came up with the idea?
Put simply, although Blue Monday is acknowledged every year, there is no valid proof that it exists beyond our imaginations. It was, in fact, a concept invented in 2005 by Sky Travel as part of its marketing campaign.
The idea was to get potential customers thinking about booking summer holidays to beat off those January blues.
The original 2005 press release claimed to have scientific research, including equations, to back up its claims. The sum included variables - such as ‘weather’, ‘time since Christmas’, ‘debt level’, ‘motivational levels’ and ‘time since failure to keep new year’s resolution’ - which scientists say aren’t part of the metrical system.
Unsurprisingly, this equation has since been debunked as ‘pseudoscience’ - in other words, it’s a lot of rubbish.
“There are so many reasons to believe it’s nonsense,” says Dean Burnett, a doctor of neuroscience and Cardiff University lecturer. “The equation wasn’t the result of some psychological study by a reputable lab, but conducted by a travel company, who then fished around for a psychologist to put his name to it, to make it seem credible.”“It combines things that have no quantifiable way of being combined. Debt level, time since Christmas, weather, motivation - the equation combines all these things, but that’s not possible. It’s like a maths problem that goes ‘43 - 12 + the colour red x mouldy cheese - the theme songs from Friends =...’ It’s impossible to solve this because all the individual components are so different and have no compatibility with each other.”
Clearly, then, there is no strict science behind Blue Monday - though perhaps you want to buy yourself a little ‘cheer up’ treat anyway.