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  • The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    This is a space visited by peer workers who have a lived experience of addiction and recovery and is an opportunity to relate to and draw hope from those who have been through similar things as you.
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Wed Dec 08, 2021 6:54 pm

    Hi all,

    In a few of my posts over the last few weeks in Monday Meetup I've been talking about the challenges of the Christmas and New Years period. It's triggering for soooooo many reasons and presents different challenges for each individual. I thought I'd start this thread now in the lead up to the holiday period and ask you what you find challenging and might might be on your mind leading up the the break.

    It can be harder for some because all around it seems like people are celebrating when for a number of people this isn't a happy time of year. The challenges of addiction can me magnified by family, friends, festivals and the financial pressures that are felt.

    @ScorpionPW and I are here to answer questions, offer advice and support and to share our experiences.

    What's on your mind in the lead up to Christmas and NYE???
    1 x
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    WildeReformed
    Junior Member
    Posts: 29
    Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2021 2:46 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:50 pm

    I haven't been on here for awhile and just saw this post @PnorkelPW

    I put a lot of thought this holidays into the social aspects of drinking and finding alternatives, organising activities away from booze, and sober things for new years.

    However, the one aspect I didn't plan for, and what has brought me onto this forum tonight, is family triggers.

    I haven't figured out how to manage this and my dad has been here for 48 hours and I've subconsciously reached for a drink twice now... thankfully catching myself at the last second... YAY TO STILL BEING SOBER.

    So, I'd love to hear some advice for how others have managed their sobriety during the holidays with difficult and strained relationships?

    Unfortunately, I'm still learning my boundaries and agreed to him staying in my home for 3 weeks... so there is no escape... unless... I disappear, change my name, and move interstate... 🤔🤔🤔
    2 x
    CaptainKirk
    Moderator
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    Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 1:08 am

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:04 pm

    Hi @WildeReformed
    This is a good topic and yes it'll be interesting to hear what other people's experiences have been with this issue of tackling the unexpected when it comes to unlikely triggering scenarios. Recovery/change is always fraught with potholes, learning curves and signposts but this is the point. Its all about seeing the challenging experiences ..as learning and not setback. All the best with the journey :)
    1 x
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    teapot
    Moderator
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    Joined: Wed Aug 19, 2020 2:54 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Wed Dec 15, 2021 11:31 pm

    WildeReformed wrote:
    Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:50 pm
    I've subconsciously reached for a drink twice now... thankfully catching myself at the last second... YAY TO STILL BEING SOBER.

    So, I'd love to hear some advice for how others have managed their sobriety during the holidays with difficult and strained relationships?

    Unfortunately, I'm still learning my boundaries and agreed to him staying in my home for 3 weeks... so there is no escape... unless... I disappear, change my name, and move interstate... 🤔🤔🤔
    Congrats on catching yourself @WildeReformed that's a massive achievement! It's amazing how certain situations we just go into autopilot, but you're beating your old habits ♥

    Don't be afraid to specifically schedule in some "me time" for yourself. At home that can be locking yourself in a room with some music, or even heading down to a local cafe with a good book. Time to yourself is so important, so schedule those escapes in! Just let him know that you need some time to yourself to recharge, hopefully he'll understand :)

    My top tip is to always have a non-alcoholic drink in hand so that you have something to sip on when you need something to do with yourself. Plain old water is good, but it's also nice to mix things up with something fizzy in a fancy glass with a garnish, just because ;)
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Thu Dec 16, 2021 9:15 pm

    Better hurry up @WildeReformed , you never know how long the borders are gonna be open to escape!!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

    Amazing effort to have stopped yourself from drinking twice!!!

    Family are my biggest trigger too so I plan my time carefully. No way in the world I could spend 3 weeks with any of them!!!!

    I like @teapot suggestions of me time. I know when I made the mistake of having my mum stay last year that I needed to make sure I went out to garden, do some shopping or get to the gym or beach for a walk. Just because your dad is staying doesn't mean you have to entertain him for every minute of every day. If it were me I'd be working out a schedule of things to do together and making plenty of suggestions for things he could do alone too ;) .

    Plan a night out with friends, put some headphones in and chill on the couch and try to communicate your needs as best as possible. It's okay to ask for some space if you need it.

    Something that has worked for me when it comes to my mum is to mentally prepare myself before I get to her house. I remind myself of what I find difficult and why and really work on remaining calm. I know she's going to say things that stimulate negative energy in me and I ensure I don't bite. If I bite I'll cause more trouble and ultimately I know I'll feel crappy about myself if I react so I just stay quiet. I don't dispute what she's saying and choose not to get dragged into an argument. It's about picking my battles and I'll tell you it's not always easy to do. I always make sure I call someone for a debrief when I'm leaving too...........is there anyone you can call for a debrief?

    Good luck and stay in touch with how things go for Christmas.
    0 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Mon Dec 20, 2021 9:54 pm

    So I had a difficult day on the weekend. I was at my brother's house so my daughter could see her Poppy and cousins before Christmas. My brother also had his mates of over 30 years there and it was a boozy occasion for them. They had the races on the television too and I found it really hard to stop myself thinking about betting...............it was just sooooo in my face! I've known most of them for just as long but was the only one not drinking................and I also had a feeling of being an outsider as they're his mates not mine. The difficulty was compounded by the fact my dad only stayed for about 15 minutes because he's become overwhelmed...............he's got the early signs of dementia and is having trouble remembering things. He's known these people for 30 years too but couldn't pick who they were. In the midst of feeling uncomfortable already this was really confronting.

    Time had felt like it was dragging and I was planning our escape before deciding on a change in my plan of how to handle the afternoon. I stopped and regrouped, went over to my dad's for a bit and took a breath. When I returned I decided to get in the pool with the kids and change my focus. It was just what I needed and before long another two adults were in the pool and others were sitting around talking. It changed my perspective and my view of the afternoon. I felt comfortable and from there we ate and I left a bit later. Whilst eating I changed the tv screen from the races to the cricket too, everyone had stopped betting and I just needed it out of my vision.............that really helped. We actually ended up leaving about three hours later than I had thought earlier and I'd been able to relax into the afternoon and enjoy it.

    What could you do to change your perspective this Christmas period???
    1 x
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    teapot
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    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Sat Dec 25, 2021 8:22 pm

    This is such a strong story @PnorkelPW it sounds like you were really able to sit with those difficult feelings.

    My favourite way to change my perspective is to add more detail to the story I'm telling myself to include or enhance the positive things.
    It's the second year where I've not been able to see my family for Christmas due to hard border closures, and all day I've found myself slipping into thoughts about missing my family and wanting to be home. I can change my perspective on this by remembering that my partner's family welcomed me to their Christmas breakfast celebration, that I've had seven hugs today and that I get to zoom chat with my family soon. I can also remember that I got to visit my family in February between border closures and that I'll likely be able to see them again in the new year! It doesn't seem like such a bad day when you step back :)
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:52 pm

    I really like the way you change your narrative @teapot..............I reckon I'll be including "adding more detail to the story" into my toolkit
    0 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Mon Dec 27, 2021 8:59 pm

    So now that Christmas is done we move on to New Year's Eve............how are you feeling about it???
    0 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Mon Dec 27, 2021 9:56 pm

    What is actually so special about New Year's Eve?????..............that's the question I really started asking myself a few years ago. I'd always thought the night was a bit overrated but it never stopped me going out and getting obliterated each year. New Year's Day was always the hardest and a sh*t way to start the year feeling like complete and utter crap. I always worked because I was in hospo and the only thing that ever got me through was to top up again.

    I'd always be making resolutions and promises to myself that the next year would be different and I'd finally start getting my act together. I'd promise I'd change jobs, get fit, start treating myself and other people differently, travel the world, stop wasting so much money on booze, drugs and gambling.............and all manner of promises I knew in the back of my mind would never end up being kept. That didn't mean I didn't want to believe myself. I wanted to believe that I'd finally start living up to my potential. I'd start the year strong for a few days......maybe a month........but those resolutions were always left unfulfilled.

    So when I got into recovery I started to really question NYE. I still don't make resolutions because I'd rather make lifestyle changes and not restrict myself to the fact that change only happens on NYE. For the first couple of NYE I worked. I was working in homelessness then and it felt good to give back but it also kept me out of trouble and gave me a purpose. It also gave an excuse not to have to attend any parties. It was the that it really hit home as to just how overrated NYE actually is and I found out just how good it actually feels to wake up on New Year's Day feeling fresh and proud of myself.

    2021 hasn't been as tough on me as some others. There are some people who have really struggled this year and I hope 2022 turns out better. The tail end of 2021 has been tough though and I'm focusing on turning things around. I know I can do it because I've done it a number of times before. Where I've fallen down though is by trying to do too much too soon or making changes that are unrealistic in the long run. This year I've started my changes today, the 27th December. I've done some morning exercise and I've eaten properly................that's a good start. My other focuses for 2022 are going to be on spending more time with friends, catching up with old friends and renewing connections, establishing a nourishing and sustainable lifestyle and to keep life simple. I have a tendency to overcomplicate things when they don't need to be and it's something I can stay on top of. I'm trying to establish a lifestyle that is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually fulfilling.

    I'm trying my hardest for 2022 not to be another year of unfulfilled changes. I've actually written two phrases on my bedroom wall in paint pen................"Commitment to Self" and "Embrace the Fear". They're the two things that are going to help me stay focused.

    What changes do you want to make in 2022 and how can you maintain the change?
    1 x
    PnorkelPW
    Peer Worker
    Posts: 324
    Joined: Tue Jun 01, 2021 3:14 pm

    Re: The Challenges of Christmas and New Years Eve

    Thu Dec 30, 2021 10:01 pm

    Just thought I'd share some NYE tips whether you're trying not to drink at all or whether you're just trying to limit your drinks:

    If you're trying not to drink at all:

    - Take a stubby holder for your non-alcoholic can or bottle...........no-one needs to be able to see what you're drinking and they'll just assume it's alcohol.............it could even be an empty bottle you're pretending to sip from!! :idea:
    - Take a special straw to put in your non-alcoholic mixed drink............you'll always be able to identify your drink so if it's soda water and lime, straight coke, orange juice or whatever. else, no-one needs to know
    - Don't put your drink down if possible..........this is a big one. It stops you picking up the wrong drink but I find it's a security blanket too. If I'm holding on to a drink it gives me something to do with my hands and I just feel a bit more at ease
    - Have 5 phone numbers on hand to call if you're struggling............if the first one doesn't answer you can call the rest but you can also call different people at different times throughout the night so you're not always relying on one person
    - Go for a walk if you just need a break for a few minutes
    - Talk to someone before the party so they can go for a walk with you if needed and check in on you throughout the night
    - Drive so you have an excuse not to drink
    - Leave just after midnight
    - Leave before midnight if you have to
    - Have the gym, a brunch date or something else organised for early New Years Day
    - Don't go to the party at all................New Year's Eve is soooooo overrated
    - Get to the party late and leave early..............people will just be happy to see you even if you arrive at 11.30pm and leave at 12.05am


    If you're trying to moderate your drinks:

    - Keep your stubby lids in your pocket so you can keep count of how many you've had..........you can even keep rocks or beads or something else and put them in your back pocket each drink you have
    - Take a limited amount of drinks
    - Get to the party late and leave early..............people will just be happy to see you even if you arrive at 11.30pm and leave at 12.05am
    - Drink light beer
    - Mix half strength drinks
    - Have a glass of water between drinks or even a non-alcoholic drink
    - Go for a walk throughout the night to give yourself some space
    - Help out in the kitchen or some other way so you keep busy


    I'd love to hear some of your tips too
    0 x

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