Writing off an uncomfortable psychedelic experience as “a bad trip” isn’t always the best idea. Instead of learning from the experience, dismissing a trip transforms it into an ugly memory, which often turns people away from psychedelics and the exploration of their minds. To get the most out of psychedelics, you must be ready to accept whatever happens during the experience.

Still, it’s one thing to abstractly discuss the difference between “challenging” and “bad” trips. It’s another, much more real thing, to experience the anxiety and paranoia that may come during a psychedelic journey. And though sometimes these uncomfortable emotions have lessons to impart, preventing them and knowing how to deal with won’t hurt.

This article will discuss ways to fortify yourself against anxiety and paranoia and reclaim a sense of calm enjoyment while using psychedelics.

First, Prepare

This is probably the most important step. Adequately preparing yourself before a trip is the best thing you can do to ensure an enjoyable experience. Going into it, you will feel confident and calm instead of rushed and nervous. In most cases, objectively bad trips—when people get hurt, arrested, lost, or make dumb mistakes that carry consequences—come from a lack of proper planning

There are a few categories to consider when getting ready for your psychedelic journey.

Substance/Dosing: Whatever psychedelic you are taking, it should come from a trustworthy source. You don’t want to get blindsided by a much higher dose or an entirely different substance than what you expected. If you are taking a chemical substance for the first time, purchase a test kit to make sure it’s genuine. Once you have your psychedelic, it is your responsibility to set a dose amount and administer it. Research how much a common dose is; if you are unsure about how you will react to a substance, you can always adjust the dose down or try microdosing.

If you’d like to know more about the legal methods of taking psychedelics, sign up to our microdosing course for extensive resources and guidance!

Environment: Your environment is another area that has a huge impact on your psychedelic experience. Apart from the standard advice to go into nature or a comfortable, familiar place, there are further steps you can take to set up a positive environment. Don’t let yourself get lost. It may be surprising, but from anecdotes and personal experience, getting lost isn’t uncommon when tripping. Whether out in nature or the streets of a city, you don’t want to be wandering around, not knowing where you are, while on psychedelics. It’s very likely that this will cause you anxiety, and for a good reason. Establish a “center”—maybe it’s your campsite, maybe your home or apartment. If fear starts to overwhelm you, it will be comforting to know that you can retreat somewhere safe and secluded.

People: A primary cause of paranoia for people on psychedelics comes from interacting with others. Being exposed to lots of strangers often leads to the they-all-know paranoia, and can bring on a vague sense that everything and everyone is “turning against you.” On the other hand, having a calm presence with you is sometimes the only way to stop psychedelic anxiety. It’s a bit tricky to balance out your company, but if you know your friends well, it should be no problem. Try to limit your exposure to strangers, and be with people you feel comfortable tripping around. We all have people that we love who would not approve of our psychedelic use. At least for the duration of your trip, it’s best to keep them out of the picture.

Baggage: It’s easy to overlook how the baggage you carry along with you affects your trip. Lots of people mistake psychedelics for substances that are supposed to make you happy. They misunderstand. Emotional baggage can accompany you during your trip, and may even amplify given your altered perspective and openness. People who are emotionally unstable, who react poorly to stress and change, should take extra caution and consideration.

Remember, preparation is key. Don’t overlook this step. You can find more about psychedelic planning by reading our guide to set and setting.

When Preparations Aren’t Enough

Sometimes, no matter how well you prepare, things still go wrong. There are always events we can’t predict or control, whether they happen outside or within us. These surprises can happen in your everyday life, and they can happen while you are on psychedelics.

For the most part, these simple remedies work just as well during a trip:

  • Stop and take a deep breath
  • Talk to someone (a sitter or friend, not a stranger)
  • Take a walk; changing your environment will change your mood
  • Stretch or drink some water (this works particularly well if you are physically uncomfortable, but also helps calm you down emotionally)

There are also some things you can try that are pretty effective while tripping, though maybe not the best steps to take in everyday life.

Tell yourself, “I’ll deal with this later.” Whatever you may be worrying about during your trip, remember that those feelings will pass. In a number of hours, when the psychedelics wear off, you’ll either forget what you were worried about or will be able to deal with it soberly. Knowing that your worries are due to a temporary substance makes them less scary.

Distract yourself. Psychedelics get people absorbed in activities or thoughts. Usually, this is an engaging and enjoyable effect. But depending on what you’re thinking about or doing, you may want to drop it and do something else. Luckily, it’s also incredibly easy to change your attention and focus while on psychedelics—everything is quite interesting. If you find yourself caught up in worries, try a very simple thing: do something else.

Be silly. It may be difficult if you’re feeling paranoid or anxious during your trip, but acting silly is probably the easiest, most fun way to shake off discomfort. Acting silly usually works for me if I’ve been caught up in some dumb worry and it’s beginning to become frustrating. I try to use the whole frustrating scenario as a funny lesson about how seriously I take things. It’s a gift to be able to laugh at yourself. A simple thing I try, usually with good success, is smiling. Even if it’s a painfully fake smile, you might laugh at how ridiculous you feel. Tap into your sense of humor. There’s already a chance that whatever you’re thinking or saying doesn’t mean anything, so it may as well be meaningless fun.

Move! I think the physical effects of psychedelics are often overlooked. They usually increase my body awareness and give me a burst of energy. A few times, I started to feel uncomfortable, physically and mentally, after I stayed too still and got lost in my head. It’s a shame, I think, to be locked up in anxiety while tripping. The cure may just be to physically shake it off. Run around, dance, swim, climb, stretch—you’ll feel great. Explore your body! Just be careful; I’ve learned firsthand how psychedelics can give you overconfidence in your physical abilities.

If All Else Fails, Give Up

After a certain point, you may be better off giving up, and waiting things out.

I had a trip where despite all my efforts, the efforts of my friends, and plenty of toys to distract myself with, I couldn’t shake off my bad feelings. Eventually, I just lay down, curled up, and waited. After a few hours of mental torture, I must have fallen asleep. It was uncomfortable. But I survived, and after some time to process what happened, I feel better off having gone through that experience.

Sometimes, the effort we put into avoiding discomfort ends up hurting us even more. Sometimes discomfort can teach us important lessons about ourselves and our lives. If you have a bad trip, learning from it and accepting it at least will give you some benefit. Maybe after the trip you realize that psychedelics aren’t for you—you’ll have a story to tell, and know that you at least tried these powerful, mysterious substances that do profound things to our minds.

To learn more about the dark places that psychedelics can take us, and what we can learn from them, listen to our interview with James Jesso on The Third Wave Podcast.

By Eden Loi on

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  1. I have found that this is one of the most valuable lessons, which is to actually learn to be with the discomfort. To embrace that which we don’t understand, value, or enjoy. In understanding what the root of the discomfort is and then seeing how that has affected us in our non-altered mind state prior is a tremendous moment for self-realization.

    And if you want another handy tip to add on to Eden’s well thought out article is to ground your self through touch. Use your hands to feel your breath (lungs or belly) and your heartbeat (chest or neck). This will help align you again with the most fundamental aspects of your physical self. Let your bodily vessel guide you safely back to calm.

  2. I’ve tripped countless times and I would like to share my way of dealing with an uncomfortable trip and it pretty much works every time. Lay down and put something silly on to watch such as Monsters Inc, Shrek or my favourite Paddington 2. Before you know it you’re giggling and laughing hard and it changes the trip to one of joy and childish hilarity. Good luck!

  3. Is there anything I can do besides trying to sleep if my partner had to cheat in front of me while tripping on shrooms and there’s no sitter or anyone to talk with.

    • Hello,

      We’re so sorry to hear that. A trip experience can be challenging in many types of situations, but compounded with something like this. We appreciate you reaching out!

      Although I know this won’t help you now, but there are free chat clients that will help guide you through a challenging trip experience. Perhaps try a Google search for “tripsit hotline” ahead of time and have it ready should your experience take a negative turn. Sometimes the best thing to do is just to reach out to someone who can help guide your thoughts until you’re feeling back to baseline.

      We hope you’re safe, and we’re sending you our light and love.

      – Britt at The Third Wave

      • My grandson and his girlfriend were taking mushrooms and according to her he stabbed himself five times of which two were superficial and three were deep. He was deceased when ambulance arrived. Is it possible for him to do this to himself. The case is still being investigated. Any i formation would be helpful. We are devastated and the girlfriend will not talk to police. We just want the truth. This happened April 13, 2019

  4. With so many cases of anxiety, it is high time to increase our understanding of this experience. When you feel you are under extreme anxiousness, take a deep and long breath, positively self-talk yourself into reality, avoid caffeine (as it has been found to increase anxiety), try to identify the cause of the anxiety and focus on solving the pressing problem.
    However, a better way to help you work on these tips is to use cannabidiol. It is a very active and effective you can use to ease and free yourself of anxiety. If a single dose of CBD oil with these strains  https://www.gyo.green/vip-seeds-vip-auto-vip-vip-fa.html  is administered, the effect will be felt within an hour. You will feel resuscitated and calm to continue your normal daily activities. Nevertheless, you still have to consult your healthcare provider on the dosage. 

  5. Eat something sugary or take some vitamin c. I’m not sure if it’s just placebo, but smartshop owners here in the Netherlands always give this tip to first-time users of truffels or peyote.
    Btw, I just want to say, I love your explaination. I’m a second-time user, so I’m still a bit nervous for these things to occur, but this helped quite a lot.

  6. So I’ve only ever used tripped once before. It was a difficult experience with me seeing myself dying etc. Preparing for my second trip this weekend. My last dose was 3 grams coupled with high vitamin c. Will be in familiar environment, any other recommendations? Last trip was horrible during, however after I felt like I’d conquered the world.

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