Anticipation – The antidote to Blue Monday

LuggageWhy are so many holidays booked in January?

There is a day in mid January that is often dubbed ‘Blue Monday’, the most depressing day of the year. It’s when the fallout from Christmas – a hammered bank account, a bulge around the waist, gloomy weather and a return to work – hits home. Whilst it has little scientific basis, it remains somehow relatable for many people.

It can be no coincidence that January is also the busiest month for summer holiday bookings.

Why? The benefits of Anticipation has to be a big factor.

Think how happy you feel when you’re looking forward to something, whether it’s a film, the next episode of your favourite TV drama, a gripping last chapter of a book and especially a holiday. Research has shown that anticipating something can be a powerful, positive emotion that can help us live happier lives.

According to research published in the journal Psychological Science, planning your break, booking tickets, and anticipating your holiday can boost your mood long before you step out of the front door. Previous research had already found that people feel happier after they purchase an experience (like a holiday or a cinema ticket) more than they do after they buy something material.

But scientists from Cornell, UC Berkeley, and UC San Francisco sought to find out if the same difference happens before a purchase — as early as when you just start thinking about it. Well, four different studies confirmed it.

  • People derive more happiness from the anticipation of purchasing experiences than material goods
  • Waiting for an experience tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good

For the families we help at the Family Holiday Association, a break away from home provides vital respite from their daily struggles, delivers new experiences and the chance to create precious memories that they can draw on when times are tough. For nearly two thirds, it is also their first ever break away from home. So whilst the benefits last long after their trip is over, they start from the moment they know they are going away.

Family at the British seaside