Welcome to the SADdest Day of the Year

Today is a “special” day.

Today, January 16, 2012 is considered the saddest day of the year. According to British researcher Cliff Arnall, the third Monday in January is quite possibly the worst day of the year, and is otherwise known as “Blue Monday.”

This date was not arbitrarily chosen; rather, it is based on an equation. The equation takes into account the following factors: the time since Christmas (post-holiday blues), debt accrued over the holidays (did you get those credit card bills yet?), time since failing to keep your New Year’s resolutions (oh, did you forget about that already?), low motivational levels (feeling sluggish and not wanting to do anything), the feeling of a need to take action (it’s a new year, and we just had some time off– shouldn’t we feel more motivated?), and of course, the weather (can you say cold, dark, and days too short?). This complex calculation has been used to choose today as the most depressing day of 2012.

Though some may question the legitimacy of choosing one day to act as the saddest day of the year, something that can vary so greatly by person, nevertheless the concept in and of itself is very interesting, and from a logic point of view, it does seem to make sense. January brings the end of the brightness and busyness of the holiday season; a return to normal life, which includes school and work; days are still short; credit card bills start pouring in, forcing us to come to grips with our holiday spend-a-thon; our New Year’s resolution was not as easy to keep the second, third, fourth, etc. day into the year, and though we feel the need to at least try, we may come to the grim realization that it is just not worth it or just not possible. Is it any wonder that anyone can get depressed at this time of the year?!

For those of us who are seasonally affected, we can take some solace in another day that has already passed last month– the winter equinox. Though it would seem like a sad day to have the start of winter, it can actually be considered a good thing, as it marks the start of longer days. It may take a while to get to the long days that we love and that are like medicine to our souls, but we have the hope of what is to come.

Contrary to what Dan Kruger, an evolutionary psychologist, has described as a time that “there isn’t so much to look forward to,” we know that we have the prospect of spring and longer, sunnier days to look forward to. We are already on our way.

Try not to be too affected by this saddest day of the year. If you need something to cheer you up, remember that not all Blue Mondays are bad, like this classic 80’s tune “Blue Monday” by New Order.

Here's something to ponder: Do even pets get sad on the saddest day of the year?

Is Winter a Risk that You would Rather not Take?

Winter can leave you stumbling in the dark when it comes to financial decisions. Here's why...

Seasonal Affective Disorder can influence you in ways that you may not even consider. I remember reading that unemployment rates are high amongst those who suffer from S.A.D. due to their inability to perform according to normal standards during winter.

Apparently not only can the seasons affect your mood, but also your tolerance for risk. Read below for more information:

This is Your Portfolio on Winter: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Risk Aversion in Financial Decision Making

The study seems to indicate that those affected with S.A.D. are more concerned about financial risk during fall and winter, but more open to potential risk during spring and summer. I am no doctor, but I can understand these findings for at least a couple of reasons.

First of all, being that S.A.D. is a form of depression, during low-light months our outlook on life is diminished. We may become not only more down, but also more pessimistic. Likewise, during the better time of the year, we may feel more bright and sunny with a better outlook on life and a renewed sense of optimism.

Another reason that these findings may make sense is due to the nesting instinct that affects many people during cooler, darker days, whether they happen to be affected by S.A.D. or not. We instinctively desire to build up our resources during cold weather, and in doing so, derive some comfort that helps us to make it through the tough seasons. The concept of the market with its ups-and-downs may prove to be unbearable to someone who is trying to hold onto everything they have as a matter of survival.

The jury is still out as to whether you are wiser to be making serious financial or portfolio decisions during winter or summer. Decisions made in winter can be too safe to prove worthwhile; decisions made in summer may be too reckless to achieve your ultimate goals. Especially when it comes to finances, it is preferable to determine your course of action whenever you personally feel the most in balance. Or another option is to weigh your feelings on the issue throughout the various seasons to gather a general consensus of which direction you should go.

Balancing your portfolio may be a task best left to when you are feeling balanced.