As time continues to slip through our fingers, it’s easy to let holidays just pass us by. But whether you celebrate the upcoming religious holidays or simply enjoy all the festivities that come with the season, it’s important to make time to enjoy yourself.

We too often let things like holiday shopping, college finals and special deadlines sabotage us of enjoying time that should be spent with family and friends. And it can get darn right depressing leaving work when the sun is already down. It doesn’t help that this year has been plagued with tragedies. From natural disasters to mass shootings – on top of our personal obstacles – trying to get into the holiday season as an adult can seem so forced.

But it’s all of the negativity that creeps into our lives that should inspire us to bring more light into the world, and it starts at home. I’m aware that not everyone feels as easily impacted by the woes of the world, but for those who need a little cheering up, here are some pointers that have helped me overcome the holiday blues:

Take advantage of community events

We pencil in doctor’s appointments and work meetings, so why is it that we find it so difficult to schedule time to enjoy ourselves? There are so many inexpensive and free events that happen throughout the year, especially around the holidays. If it helps, have some friends or family hold you accountable to having fun. Accountability and fun don’t seem like two words that should be in the same sentence, but trust me on this.

I don’t have kids, but I love having kids in my life. Last year, I asked my aunt and uncle if I could take my little cousins to WinterFest, an annual, nearly month-long extravaganza that includes ice skating, holiday movies and local food and art. I couldn’t let them down by canceling plans, scheduling a day to take them out really helped me make sure I took advantage of all that was out there.

If you don’t have little ones in the family, why not join Big Brothers Big Sisters and become a mentor? As someone who had a mentor in elementary school, I still remember the positive impact that came from something as simple as a trip to the movie theater and San Jacinto Plaza.

Give back

Part of what can make this time of year depressing is knowing how many underserved people there are out there. But we forget the power of baby steps. You don’t have to be rich to give back to the community, and it can be as simple as volunteering your time.

El Paso Giving Day was last week, but that doesn’t mean you can’t visit elpasogivingday.org to learn more about the nonprofits in need of our support. The website separates them by categories so that you can learn more about disaster relief organizations like the Puerto Rico Recovery Fund or education groups like Books Are Gems.

You’ll also notice that local businesses collect donations this time of year. Ode Brewing, for example, is doing a sleeping bag drive until Nov. 30. I recently visited one of my favorite tea shops, Caffe Fioretti, which is collecting money to create and hand out 100 care packages that will consist of things like gloves, scarves and non-perishable goods.

Organizations like El Pasoans Fighting Hunger are always looking for volunteers. If you’ve been meaning to become more benevolent, now is the perfect time to start.

Cook seasonal food

There’s something Zen about cooking your own meal. It encourages you to focus and be in the moment. And what better way to embrace the fall and winter than to use seasonal ingredients? We included some savory pumpkin recipes on page 10 to get you in the mood.

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