Don't let Blue Monday get you down!

A formula demonstrates tomorrow is the most depressing day of the year. We've asked the experts for the best ways to keep the winter blues at bay

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The Independent Online

If you believe the hype, tomorrow will the most depressing day in 2012. Though the science behind it is, perhaps, not the most rigorous, it does enjoy a mathematical formula all of its own.

Weather (W), debt (d), the time since Christmas (T), time since failing our New Year's resolutions (Q), love motivation levels (M) and the need to take action (N) are all factored into the equation.

What they add up to, in short, is that the third Monday in January is pretty grim. People will be hit with the credit card bills from their Christmas spending. It is dark when you get up for work and, in many cases, dark when you leave to go home again. Worse still, the next bank holiday is not until 6 April. Oh, and families are warned to expect a 2012 "squeeze".

But in typically resilient British fashion, people all over the country are reclaiming "Blue Monday" and devising upbeat ways to banish the winter blues. The Independent of Sunday asked leading experts in the arts, sports, adventure and the culinary world for their top 10 tips on how to get through the day, and even come out smiling.


Dave Berry

Capital FM Breakfast Show host

1) "Sympathy for the Devil", The Rolling Stones Planning on having an epic night out? Then get ready to this song.

2) "Earthquake", Labrinth A playlist must-have.

3) "Song 2", Blur Like an adrenalin shot.

4) "Price tag", Jessie J A lovely sentiment.

5) "Love on Top", Beyoncé As Beyoncé goes octaves higher, so does your optimism.

6) "Rock'n'Roll Star", Oasis It's Oasis – ROCK'N'ROLL STAR.

7) "Too Lost in You", Sugababes Heidi's middle eight gives me goose pimples.

8) "I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor", Arctic Monkeys It contains the word dance and that's what it will make you do.

9) "Cheers", Rihanna It's nice to have a drink when you're down.

10) "Inhaler", Miles Kane Colour of the Trap is one of my favourite recent albums and this is the jewel in its crown.


Peter Florence

Director of the Hay Festival

1) My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk Masterpiece set during the 16th-century Ottoman empire.

2) White Teeth by Zadie Smith Brilliantly funny and getting better with age.

3) The Black Album by Hanif Kureishi The fatwa, the Berlin Wall, ecstasy and rapture.

4) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss Now and forever the best fun with colours.

5) Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Account of a Nigerian childhood.

6) Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon Classic Maigret.

7) Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson Cheer up. She did. Gloriously.

8) Charlotte Gray by Sebastian Faulks It was harder for her.

9) The Complete Father Brown Stories by G K Chesterton Sublime sleuthing.

10) The Colour by Rose Tremain Doubly blessed. Masterpiece.


Alex Winters

CBeebies presenter

1) Home cinema My kids love inviting family and friends over. Make treats and fill the chosen room with pillows and duvets. Cinetastic!

2) Mini Garden Olympics Each member of the family invents an "event" for everyone to try.

3) Art and craft Homemade robots, castles and collages are all over my house. Be creative.

4) Parks When in London, the park of choice for my children was the Diana Memorial Playground in Hyde Park.

5) Baking It doesn't have to be fancy. Cookies and buns are simple and the real fun comes with the decorating.

6) Family-friendly theme parks We've been to so many. I love it more than the kids, I think.

7) A farm, zoo or adventure park Animal feeding, rides, parks, food, live shows all make for a crazy day out.

8) Museums Hands-on children's museums are the best, particularly if it includes opportunities to role play.

9) Ceramics and pottery I've noticed these places popping up all over the country. I praise my children's efforts – they laugh at mine.

10) Kite flying Make sure you wrap up warm and check that there's a breeze.


Ellen Jones

Film Club programmer

1) Slumdog Millionaire (2008, 15) The story of an orphan made good, with Bollywood vibrancy.

2) Singin' in the Rain (1952, U) Images of Gene Kelly clicking his heels improve even the worst Monday morning commute.

3) Passport to Pimlico (1949, U) Any Ealing comedy will do the trick, but this one wins for its Blitz spirit.

4) Looking for Eric (2009, 15) You don't have to be a football fan to appreciate Cantona's wit. But if you are, it helps.

5) Groundhog Day (1993, PG) Bill Murray can sum up Blue Monday in a single facial expression.

6) Miracle in Milan (1951, U) Vittorio De Sica's fable about an optimistic oddball let loose in a cruel world.

7) You Can't Take It with You (1938, U) Frank Capra's tale of an eccentric family lifts our spirits.

8) The Muppet Movie (1979, U) There are no substitutes for this genial anarchy.

9) Amélie (2001, 15) Amélie's belief in the power of good deeds is infectious.

10) The Full Monty (1997, 15) This transforms downers into feel-good fodder.


David Else

Author of Lonely Planet's Great Britain guide

1) London Escape the cold at indoor Olympic stadia and watch others sweat in the "London Prepares" sporting events.

2) Edinburgh Find a traditional pub in the Old Town and celebrate Burns Night.

3) Bath Immerse yourself in the warm waters of the very 21st-century Thermae Spa.

4) Lake District Hike on the northern hills in the poet Wordsworth's footsteps, then put the calories back on with dinner at a lakeside hotel.

5) Snowdon Not so keen on winter mountain walking? Take the Victorian cog railway to the summit.

6) Herefordshire Join a wassailing ceremony to ensure a good cider apple harvest on "Old Twelfth Night" (17 January).

7) Paris Even in winter, the French capital, right, never fails to warm the heart.

8) Aviemore Scotland's snow can be unpredictable, but Aviemore offers ice-climbing, snowshoeing and even husky dog sledding.

9) Norfolk Visit one of East Anglia's bird reserves to spot winter visitors flying in from the Arctic.

10) Dublin Take a city break during Temple Bar TradFest (25-29 January).


Terri Paddock

Managing and editorial director,

1) One Man, Two Guvnors Adelphi Theatre, West End. Starring James Corden.

2) Matilda: The Musical Cambridge Theatre, West End. Roald Dahl's book with music by Tim Minchin.

3) Crazy for You Novello Theatre, West End. Gershwin fest.

4) Annie West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds, until 21 January. Broadway musical about an optimistic orphan.

5) The Ladykillers Gielgud Theatre, West End. Ealing comedy on stage with Peter Capaldi.

6) Stones in His Pockets Tricycle Theatre, London. Marie Jones's Olivier Award-winning comedy revived.

7) The Comedy of Errors National Theatre, London. Starring Lenny Henry.

8) La Soirée Roundhouse, London. Raucous and irreverent cabaret.

9) Legally Blonde: The Musical Southend Cliffs Pavilion, 17-28 January. Broadway import.

10) Swallows and Amazons Chichester Festival Theatre, 17-21 January. Acclaimed children's adaptation.


Rosie Fuller

Editor of Adventure Travel Magazine

1) Snow fun You don't need the Alps. We have lots of indoor snow centres.

2) British military fitness Running round a muddy park in the dark being shouted at by a bloke in uniform? It's wonderful.

3) Take a flying lesson Hit new heights and get an adrenaline rush. Prices start at £98.

4) Night running Don't let the dark stop you: all you need is a friend and a head torch.

5) Swim wild Swimming in cold water releases endorphins. Jump in a river or the sea for a natural cold water high.

6) Bike to work It's 9am on Monday and you've already accomplished something.

7) Follow a map It doesn't sound sexy, but orienteering is a fun, rewarding mental and physical workout.

8) Back to basics Take a bushcraft course and learn how we used to live: everything from foraging to first aid.

9) Husky sledding You can be a musher for the day with three Siberian huskies and specially adapted scooters.

10) Shark diving Deep Sea World in North Queensferry in Fife, Scotland, offers shark dives in its 4.5 million-litre tank.


Philip Dundas

Author of Cooking without Recipes

1) Cooked breakfast at Café Conor in Belfast Cheery staff, Irish soda bread, scrambled eggs.

2) Cottage pie at the Islington Barn Comforting, nutritious home-cooking.

3) Fish and chips at Fecci & Sons in Tenby With a rousing view and the sound of waves.

4) Tea and scones at Betty's Tea Rooms in Harrogate Refined Edwardian elegance.

5) Fruits de mer at Randall & Aubin, London The waiters serve you drinks in the queue outside.

6) Fish curry from Mother India Café in Glasgow It's also International Hot and Spicy Food Day.

7) Fine dining at Monachyle Mhor near Balquhidder If you're lucky you might also see a golden eagle.

8) Knickerbocker glory at Bell's Diner, Edinburgh The best cheeseburger in town, then a childhood ice-cream fantasy.

9) Cheese and pickles at the Fine Cheese Company in Bath Cheese has tyrosine, which helps you feel lively.

10) Rabbit and bacon pie at the Crooked Well in London This countryside dish will bring some bounce back into your life.