Is there a Formula for Blues?

The decorations are down and that’s pretty much how you feel after the holidays? Don’t worry, there is still time to change the formula and make January awesome….  By Ana Kedveš

A Formula for Blues?

December is all about being merry, which isn’t really such a terrible chore, but January headlines call for some serious work and determination. Even if you are not on the New Year, New You bandwagon, it might be challenging to start off the new year in high spirits. January Blues isn’t a myth, many people seriously struggle with seasonal disorders. There is even an equation developed by psychologist Cliff Arnall

Is there a Formula for Blues?

Source: The Mathematics Teacher

where seven variables (W-weather, D-debt, d-days till pay, T-time since Christmas, Q-time since failed quit attempt, M-motivation, and Na-the need to take action) are used to calculate the worst day of the year. Apparently, January 24th is a champion here, but other days in this month can be tough too.

Admittedly, I scoff at the idea of calculating something as unfathomable as human (un)happiness, but let’s have a look at those variables…


When days are dark and gloomy and we’re mostly trapped indoors, it’s hard to keep smiling. That’s why it’s important to make the most of the day. Take a longer break from studies in the daylight or join one of our lunch time Wellbeing walks. Fresh air and a bit of exercise can do wonders!

Debts and days

Holidays are the season to be merry and excessive, the latter often leaving us in the red. January is a great month to get your finances back on track and do some budget planning. You might dread it now, but wouldn’t it be great to save some money for your summer holiday or a new [insert here whatever you’re ogling on Amazon].

Time Since Christmas

Christmas season is over but, as corny as it may sound, you can recreate that Christmas feeling everyday, even in January. You don’t have to wait for December to give small presents to your family or friends, have a nice meal together or simply call them and let them know how happy you are to have them. You can’t let it snow, but if you feel like leaving those Christmas lights up a bit longer or having some Christmas pudding, why not?

Quitting and Failing

Perhaps you haven’t done any of the coursework you planned to finish over the holidays? Maybe “just this last piece of cake” wasn’t really the last? Maybe the last year didn’t go as you expected and you’re not happy with what you have achieved? Failing is hard and it’s perfectly fine if you’re not feeling happy about it. However, try to think of ways in which this failure can help you try again and try better.


It might take some self-reflection to discover where you want to go and what you want to do, but once there is a goal ahead of you it will be easier to make progress. If you already know what you’d like to improve or change, it’s likely you’ve announced to the world what your New Year’s resolutions are. It’s simple to make one (or five), but sticking with these resolutions requires some, well, resolution. A lot of it, actually, but this doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Managing your expectations and creating a feasible action plan is the way to go.

The Need to Take Action

If you feel that your routine is wearing you down, try to find inspiration in doing something new; you can take up a new hobby, try to cook a new meal, listen to new band, talk to somebody who is not from your course/house/sports club… Next time you feel down or you’re about to complain about something, pause for a moment and think what you have done so far to make things better. If you can’t list anything or you’ve thought of something else… Well, you know what you need to do!

Maths equations and student life can both get complicated and overwhelming, and sometimes changing the variables just doesn’t give the results you’re after. If January or any other month puts you out of balance, there is support available.


Photo credits: Maths/Chris de Kok / CC BY 2.0

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