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Oh gosh. How long have I been here, 20 minutes or an hour? Is she talking to me? Are my eyes red? Do I smell like weed? Why is my heart beating so fast? Everyone definitely knows I’m stoned. Is that a cop car behind me?

No. That’s just good ol’ weed paranoia.

It can be a really intense experience being high, as well as a very exhilarating receptive experience. While your brain is attempting to rearrange all these bizarre feelings and sensations, it can deceive you into thinking something’s actually, really wrong. People who are more prone to having anxiety and that smoke cannabis usually use it as a self-prescribed medicine. Most of them have no idea that the marijuana is actually the source of the paranoia.

But for others, smoking weed can actually give them a sense of decreased anxiety and alleviate PTSD symptoms. Here are some ways to help get rid of all that paranoia that comes along with smoking.

1. Prevention

Take it slow – most definitely when experimenting with edibles. Most of the epic freak outs related to weed happen because people who are inexperienced in weed eat a bunch of it. If you’re a first timer, smoking or vaping gives you the best overall effects, but the high ends more quickly and lets you get a better sense of the level of highness you’re about to reach. Here’s another tip, don’t smoke with people that have bad vibes.

2. Be Alert and Aware

Now now, don’t start getting all freaked out by how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Try changing your mindset a bit or embrace an attitude of inquisitive thought. Marijuana, for example, often makes your heart to beat more rapidly: from a mindfulness perspective, you can easily observe that your heart is beating faster than it was. It’s okay, stay calm: just consider your feelings from a perspective of curiosity. Or do your best to focus on something else.

3. Drink water

Staying hydrated is always important, but lack of water can increase anxiety by blocking blood flow, inhibiting hormones from arriving at their designated locations. Your muscles can start to tense up. Your brain (85% water) may experience changes as a result of water loss. When have a stressed body and mind, ice water is the cure.

4. Pepper

Sounds like some old hippie myth, but there’s some solid science to back up the idea that sniffing/chewing black peppercorns can relieve feelings of paranoia. Owen Smith writes in Canada’s Cannabis Digest that “a few sniffs of pepper gives an immediate calming effect: others report feeling relief within an hour of chewing on peppercorns.” In a scientific review published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, author Ethan Russo acknowledges the contiguity between THC and terpenoids found in pepper.

5. Stretch it out

Couch locked and curled up in a ball on the couch. That might feel like the only thing you can do, possibly forever, but you get your blood pumping and flowing again. Turn on Pandora or some Apple music and get to moving. Listen to Louis Armstrong or Radiohead or Mos Def: any music with enough intricacy to focus your stoned mind. It’s hard to feel scared or paranoid when you’re aware of your body in time and space.

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