Welcome to the new year -- and a return to reality with a cold thud.

If the swing is missing from the swing of things, mental health experts offer these suggestions:

Enjoy the zenith of holiday joy -- then let it go. Come to grips with a period of time that is not very exciting. It's a part of life.

Recognize that post-holiday blues and winter blahs are common phenomena and not abnormal reactions. Share your feelings with others. You'll tend to be less self-critical, find that you're not alone and get different perspectives on what you're going through.

Don't leave a vacuum. Schedule something fun to do in the days or weeks after a vacation or holiday, and then look forward to it. Go to dinner or a movie. Plan a weekend getaway. Host a winter doldrums party.

Begin work on a long-term project. Plan for your next vacation or for the next holiday.

Welcome the routine. It provides structure, the known quantity, and something to be counted on.

Ease back. Don't expect to be at the same level of intensity, efficiency and productivity that you were a few weeks ago. If you're running at 100 percent, fine. But most of us aren't. Don't put off work, but pace yourself.

Set reasonable goals, taking into account your unrealistic expectations. It might take three months instead of one to drop the weight you've put on. It might take four months instead of two to clear your credit-card bill. Maybe you shouldn't have spent so much on gifts. But you did. See where you can cut back now and go on from there.

Think small. Success with small changes gives momentum to tackle the next obstacle. Resolutions should be made based on what you know in advance you can accomplish.

Back up your resolutions with a specific plan. Want to manage your finances better? Set a budget. Want to break out of your painful shyness? Vow to attend a social event every month.

Keep up those things that made you feel good over the holidays. If giving to charity gave you a glow, build philanthropy into your routine. If you enjoyed being with family members that you hadn't seen for a year, make it a point to keep in touch.

If you're disappointed or angry with how the holidays turned out, reassess them. Should you really have expected a Norman Rockwell Christmas if your family has been arguing for years? Should you really have expected to get along with the brother you've been fighting with for years?

Seek out supportive friends and family members. If you were overcommitted and overbooked during the holidays, your most trusted and supportive friends might have been neglected. It's time to regroup.

Relish the time alone or with a significant other. Couples often get lost during the holiday overdose of activity, family and friends.

If you're feeling down or depressed, push yourself to do the opposite of what you feel like doing. Get outside if you feel like withdrawing from the cold. The more you avoid it, the worse your sensitivity to it becomes. Conversely, the more you tackle the cold, the easier it becomes to do so.

Deal with the passing of time. The year 2000 is a year closer. But it's still a dozen years away, and that's plenty of time for a host of wonderful experiences and accomplishments.

Recognize the strengths you have and the advantages that come with age: More experience, knowledge and a better perspective.

Take the opportunity to assess your physical and emotional health. Develop a food and exercise regimen you feel comfortable with. Get help if you believe the blues are triggering a more serious problem.