'Blue Monday' Means It's All Smooth Sailing for 2007

Good morning, and take comfort in knowing things likely can't get any worse.

Researchers in England, citing unpaid holiday bills, rotten weather and people's realization that they likely won't live up to their New Year's resolutions, say Jan. 22 is the unhappiest day of 2007.

Cliff Arnall, a Cardiff University psychologist, devised the depressing formula.

His equation takes into account six factors: weather, debt, time since Christmas, time since failing our New Year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling a need to take action.

Taken together, they calculate to equal "Blue Monday."

Arnall said that by understanding the main factors for depression, we can prevent becoming unhappy next year.

"Use the day as a springboard for a higher quality life," he told the London Daily Mail. "For example, keeping Christmas spending to a strict budget next year will make you less depressed in the last week of January.

"Also, decide on changing behavior, such as giving up smoking, eating better, exercising more and getting that new job," he said.

It also might be a good idea to be extra careful while driving.

A British insurance company reports that nearly half of all drivers suffer from seasonal symptoms such as depression and lethargy in January, which impact their driving ability.

All is not doom and gloom, however, as a survey of 85 percent of people in Britain expect to be happier in the future than they are now, a psychological study for Standard Life Bank found.

Scots were the most optimistic, followed by people in the South West, while people from London and the West Midlands had the least positive outlook on life, researchers discovered.

People responding to the survey said they hoped to make themselves happier by clearing their debts, paying off their mortgage and achieving financial security.

Those who listed things they were looking forward to were plans to reduce their working hours or retire to improve their quality of life.

For the 15 percent of pessimists and those who feel very depressed, the Samaritans organization urged people not to bottle it up but to get in touch with professional counselors who can help you resolve conflicts.