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"My anxiety levels dropped." 7 things that happened when I stopped drinking for 100 days.

It's Monday morning. I've been awake since about 3am worrying about everything in the entire world. 

My mouth feels like the inside of a grubby wheely bin and there's a tightness in my chest as I think about all the things I have to do this week.

I crawl out of bed and catch my reflection; dull skin, sad eyes, and all I can think is "I need coffee" and "I'll never drink again."

Watch: Your body a year without alcohol. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

But by 11am I'm already thinking about my evening glass of reward wine.

And after school pickup, I'm happily trotting to the bottle shop.

Of course these days, I'm a responsible adult.

No binge drinking. No throwing up on your shoes outside some sleazy club. No alcopops.

Oh no, it was all $25 bottles of Pinot Grigio in expensive glasses, sipped while making a nutritious dinner. It was never a full bottle (well, almost never). 

I was what's officially known as a 'grey-area drinker', on the surface, smart and successful. Taking my vitamins, and my green smoothies, heading to the gym. Running my business and doing all the mum and partner things the world expects of me.

A far cry from the cliched image of a heavy drinker, clutching a brown paper bag and hurling random obscenities at strangers (although I've been known to do this in my time).

But deep down I knew I was not living my best life.

So, after years of Dry Julys, Don't Drink Decembers, and a bunch of 30-day challenges, I finally decided this was it.

I was giving up for good. Or at least 100 days*.

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And here's what changed for me:

1. Anxiety levels dropped.

I've been an anxious human for as long as I can remember. I’m an expert at making mountains out of molehills and have dedicated hours to scenario-izing situations that will never happen. 

Booze was my off switch. As soon as I took that first sip, the pressure was off.

But I soon found alcohol increases cortisol levels, part of the body's stress response, so it actually makes you feel more stressed. Go figure!

After 100 days, my anxiety levels have dropped to almost zero, and I'm no longer taking any anti-anxiety medication.

2. My skin and hair improved.

At 48, my skin has of course lost the babies-bottom-softness and youthful glow. But the relentless dehydration caused by alcohol had left me looking more wrinkled than a possum’s scrotum. 

My hair, too, had become dry and brittle. 

I spent a fortune on expensive skin creams and fancy keratin treatments, but to no avail.

Then I stopped drinking, and cue, 'best skin care solution ever'.

Now my skin, while not perfect, is blemish-free, glowy and plumper. My hair is glossier and my eyes have won back their whiteness and sparkle. My injectables bill is also much reduced.

Image: Supplied.

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3. Deeper sleep.

While I suspected the 3am wake up thing was to do with booze, I refused to fully accept it.

Then I read the science.

Alcohol inhibits the production of adenosine and glutamate; it wrecks REM sleep and leaves you feeling like an extra from The Walking Dead.

For the first month I still had sleep wobbles, but now I’m sleeping like a well-fed doggo on a sunny cushion.

And I'm no longer a monster until I've had my morning coffee (well, less of a monster).

4. More relaxed.

When it came to relaxing, I had just one tool in my toolkit. 

Wine. 

But now that it's gone, I have to find other ways to wind down and fill my time.

I've become one of those people. Who goes for long walks and heads to the gym to chill out. My cold champagne replaced with a hot bath.

I've picked up old hobbies. My house is immaculate. I've Marie Kondo'ed my sock draw.

More importantly, I've learned to sit with those ick feelings and process them, rather than numbing myself with booze.

It's been painful but I'm better for it.

5. Sex is more sexy.

I'll be honest, the idea of sober sex had me breaking out in a moist sweat.

I like a good fiddle as much as the next woman, but I often need a glass of wine to get in the mood. Taking the wine away makes getting in the sex groove harder for sure, but it’s meant a lot more honest conversations with my partner, and a lot more having sex because I want to, not because I feel like I should.

Also, without the numbing of all the bits and bobs I can attest to orgasms being way more, well, orgasmy. So that's a win.

6. Redefining fun.

I've been taught my whole life that fun is something we consume. Imagine going to a party with no booze and no food. Hideous right?

I'll be honest that at first going to events booze-free was a white-knuckle agony-fest.

But in the last 100 days, I've celebrated my anniversary and birthday sober, been on a girls' weekend, a work conference, countless nights at bars, a comedy club and more. I have struggled, feeling like the odd one out in a room full of boozing humans, but that said, I often felt left out when I drank too - booze is great for building the paranoia.

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No, I can no longer party until dawn without booze, and yes if I'm with drinking friends, it gets a bit hard when they slur and start repeating themselves.

Yes, sometimes I want to snatch that glass of wine out of your hand and it feels incredibly hard to resist. But it's doable. 

I've also shifted socialising with breakfasts rather than dinners, and activities rather than bars - to make it a little easier.

Image: Supplied.

Fun is still available, (spoiler: it always was), if you have the right mindset.

7. I'm a better me.

Well-rested, relaxed, less anxious, floofier haired, sexually sated me is - without a doubt - a better me.

I've seen massive improvements in my business profitability over the last three months, as my productivity, positive attitude and resilience has hugely increased.

Image: Supplied.

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Also, fewer sick days with my head down the toilet.

My relationships have improved, and I feel I'm setting a better example to my son. My horizons have broadened, I’m doing more and have so much more time. I know I sound revolting and smug, but it's nice to be revolting and smug - for the first time in a long time, I feel proud of myself.

By the time this is published, my 100 days will be up and you might wonder will I be drinking again?

I hope not. 

I'm not a one-glass of wine human and I have decades of proof that moderating and rule setting doesn't work for me. Pretty soon, I'm back to my half-a-bottle-of-wine-a-night routine.

But saying you'll never drink again is scary, right?

So all I say is, "I will not drink today". It's gotten me this far, who knows how far it will take me?

These resources really helped me on my booze-free journey:

To find more from Kate, you can find her on Instagram or visit her website here.

* Why 100 days? Not only is 100 days a sexy number, I've found from experience that 30 days is not enough time to form a habit. In fact, a  2009 study from University College London examined the habits of 96 people of a 12-week period. On average, it took people 66 days to pick up a new habit - but in reality, took participants anywhere from 18 to 254 days. So 100 days felt like a solid in-between number.

Feature Image: Supplied.