What to Do When Being High Gives You Anxiety

What to Do When Being High Gives You Anxiety

Published on 1/11/23

When using cannabis, people can experience various feelings, including relaxation, calm, inner peace, and pain relief. Occasionally, smoking can give you anxiety, making you experience paranoia while high. When this happens, it's good to be prepared for what to do.

Why Does Marijuana Make You Paranoid?

Why does cannabis make some people paranoid in the first place? THC, the psychoactive component, binds to the natural cannabinoid receptors in your body. A place these receptors reside in is the amygdala. This part of the brain is responsible for many things, including our fear response and how we experience anxiety from weed.

Research shows that when a large amount of THC interacts with the amygdala, it may overwhelm those receptors and cause you to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and paranoid.

You may not feel anxious every single time you use cannabis, either. There can be times when you have a pleasant reaction. It's important first to recognize the signs of a cannabis-induced anxiety response to handle the situation appropriately. Here are a few things you may experience if cannabis is making you anxious:

  • An increase in sweat production and shakiness in your body
  • Feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, and paranoia
  • A faster heartbeat and shallow breath
  • Nausea

Do you want to ease those anxious feelings and turn them into a more positive experience? Here's what to do when being high gives you anxiety.

Perform Breathing Exercises

One side effect of a cannabis-induced anxiety attack can be shallow and quickened breathing. You can try to remedy this by doing breathing exercises. Consider the following:

1. Smell the Flower, Blow Out the Candle

The name of this breathing technique is exactly as it sounds. Breathe in through your nose, long and slow like you're smelling a flower, then exhale with your lips pursed like you're blowing out a candle. Be mindful of taking long, slow breaths to bring your heart rate down and restore calmness.


2. Full Belly Breathing

Breathe through your belly, pushing out your stomach and pressing down on your diaphragm. Then, extend your breath through your ribcage, feeling the sides of your body expand as you continue to breathe in. Breathe in through your upper chest, allowing your collarbone to lift.

Now reverse this process through your exhale; chest, ribs, and stomach. Breathing this way can create an almost "rolling" calming and therapeutic effect.

3. Box Breathing

If counting numbers calms you down, this breathing exercise is for you. Breathe in for a count of five to seven seconds, hold, then breathe out for the same count. Imagine each inhale, hold, and exhale as the sides of a square box. Repeat as many times as necessary until you feel less anxious.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking water is one way to help reduce the effects of your high, essentially sobering you up. Research has shown that other beverages, especially alcoholic ones, aren't nearly as effective in lessening your high. They might even make you feel even higher, which would be bad in this case. Avoid bubbly beverages and alcoholic refreshments; instead, reach for some water.

Another reason to drink plenty of water? When you're high, the receptors in your mouth that produce saliva may temporarily stop or reduce the amount of saliva you're making. This can cause dry mouth and may make you feel even more thirsty.

Eat Food


Eating while you're high is appealing to most. Ever heard of the munchies? In some cases, THC may increase appetite. While it's okay to snack a little, be mindful not to overindulge and give yourself a stomachache.

Beware of edible paranoia. Steer clear of edibles, which will only add to your high. This product type can often lead to anxiety.

You may find that having a snack helps ease your anxiety, but you should try something light on the stomach, like crackers, fruit, or lightly salted chips.

Repeat "Anchor Thoughts" to Yourself

Anchor thoughts are like mantras. You can repeat them in your head or out loud until they bring you peace. Anchor thoughts are easy to remember when you're feeling anxious and can help keep you grounded in the present moment. Try repeating any of these:

  • "This will pass. This is temporary."
  • "I'm okay. I'm safe. I'm healthy. I'm okay."
  • "I can enjoy myself and still feel this way."

Move Your Body


Moving your body gets your blood moving and your heart pumping, allowing the THC that's making you high and anxious to move through your body faster. When you inhale cannabis, it can make its way into your bloodstream in a matter of seconds and stay in your body for several hours.

When your high is making you anxious, you've likely got a few hours to wait it out. This could be a good time to go for a walk if you feel comfortable doing so. Even some gentle stretching and yoga can do the trick.

Strains for Anxiety: What to Try and What to Avoid

Thankfully, there are plenty of strain options to avoid anxiety. Strains higher in CBD, as opposed to THC, have a hard time bonding directly to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. This means there's a less likely chance of them becoming overwhelmed, thus leading to anxious sensations.

Try These Low Paranoia Strains

Looking for strains with a high CBD content to ease your mind? Here are a few of the best low-anxiety strains.

  • Elektra: As one of the most popular and best strains for anxiety, Elektra is a cross between Early Resin Berry and ACDC. There's minimal measurable THC as a CBD strain, and this one comes in at only 1% THC with about 17% CBD.
  • Cannatonic: This hybrid strain has low THC/high CBD content and is a cross between MK Ultra and G13 Haze. Expect Cannatonic to give you a short, mellow high that uplifts and calms your mind.
  • Chocolate Chunk: This strain is sure to pack a punch in not only taste but also potency as well. As a 100% pure indica strain, Chocolate Chunk is sure to give you heavy sedation, testing at about 22% THC and no CBD.
  • Harle-Tsu: When it comes to cannabis strains for anxiety, this high CBD strain is one of the most popular. A cross between two potent strains, Harlequin and Sour Tsunami, and CBD content at over 20%, this earthy and sweet pine-tasting strain is considered a "healthy pain killer."

Avoid These Worst Strains for Anxiety

It's not uncommon for indica strains to give people anxiety. Indicas are often associated with "couch lock," making you feel heavier and sluggish. You might find these to be an anxiety trigger.

Generally, indicas and higher THC strains may have a greater chance of causing anxiety, but every person reacts differently. If you're worried about anxiety, some heavy indica strains to avoid are:

  • Purple Kush
  • Deathstar
  • Skywalker OG
  • Green Gelato
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Seth Richtsmeier
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