Shake Off Your Post-Holiday Blues

A file photo shows a man reacting in frustration. (credit: Getty Images/Paco Serinelli/AFP)

A file photo shows a man reacting in frustration. (credit: Getty Images/Paco Serinelli/AFP)

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(CBS) – Do you feel a little blue after the holidays?

“Early Show” contributor and psychologist Dr. Jennifer Hartstein says it’s absolutely normal to feel a little down after the rush of the season.

“We have all of this stuff going on from really the end of the October, from Halloween, through the end of the December,” she said. “We are going, going, going. And often, there’s nothing left after that. We go back to the regular lives and we’re bummed out about it.”

Dr. Hartstein offered some tips for getting yourself back on track.

How do you know if you have the blues?

Hartstein said mood swings can be an indicator.

She said. “(You may) feel more depressed or more irritable. Then you might get headaches, you might notice they’re stress headaches, because you’re not sure what’s happening. Or you’re feeling anxious, ‘What will I do with my time? Where do I go next?’ Or exhausted, or the flip side: insomnia. You’re fatigued. They really mimic depression, but are usually shorter-term.”

Hartstein explained there is a difference between the effect on kids and adults. “We think kids don’t experience that letdown. Why wouldn’t they?” she said. “We have to think that they would. They have been on vacation. They haven’t been in school. Their responsibilities have been minimal. They’ve been getting to play with all this new stuff and see family, maybe they don’t see a lot. You want to work on getting the kids back into the routine as best as possible and anticipate maybe a little bit of stubbornness going back to school, just like we might feel going back to work.”

So what can you do for your kids and yourself?

“Think about what you can do to eat right, to feel right,” Hartstein advised. “You want to look at your diet. We have overindulged. Too many sweets. So start with replenishing the water supply, start with thinking about eating more whole grains, which are going to keep the energy levels up. Even nuts. Magnesium has been shown to keep the energy level at a certain level and we want to keep that up. Non-salted nuts are good, lean meats, salmon. Things to keep the omega-3s up, with the fish and the lean meets with the energy level at an even balance. Fruits and vegetables, too.”

The weather can also have an effect on your attitude, Hartstein said, noting, “We might not have noticed that they happened, because we’re so wrapped up in the holiday things. You want to get outside. Get sun. Even if it’s a cloudy day, get outside.”

Hartstein said a sun lamp — for as little as 10 minutes a day — can also help.

“You won’t get tan from it, but the light helps replenish the Vitamin D and help with seasonal affective disorder. … If you’re worried about it or have questions about it, talk to your doctor.”

Sleep can also play a role in getting your attitude back on track.

“(Sleep) eight hours if you can. Get that back in line,” she said.

She said focusing on new goals and keeping your connections with your family and friends strong is essential to maintaining a positive outlook.

Hartstein suggested, “(You could) maybe organize a photo (album) and e-mail them to everybody. But it’s keeping that connection of living that happy time alive, that feel-good time that you liked so that you can keep that going and keep your mood up.”

Hartstein said for her personally, it’s all about getting back into a routine.

“I think it’s a little bit of everything,” she said. “It’s working on the sleep, eating better is definitely key. You over-indulge. You just feel lethargic and really bad, so for me getting back into getting up at the same time every day, and the routine-ness of it, I really enjoy, and I feel better and then, I’m like in control.”