As it turns out, “How high are you right now?” is a pretty loaded question. There’s an enormous number of factors that can and do affect your high, including — as Healthline notes — the dosage and strain in question, the delivery method, your individual tolerance, your age, your physiology and more. And once you get there, it’s not just a question of “How high are you?” but a question of “What type of high are you?” Highness is a spectrum, and these are just a few of the shades — and some ideas for what to do with (or about) them.
Level 1: The Stealth High
This is a low-key, one-hit kind of sensation — a high that’s there, but just barely (and pleasantly) so. When your head’s spinning from work, family drama or just day-to-day stress, this is the subtle high that puts your feet back on the ground and helps steady you as you go about your business. The going, though, is just a little smoother.
Level 2: The Simple Euphoria
In the song “Illegal Smile,” John Prine sings, “Fortunately I have the key to escape reality/And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile/It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while.” And while he told Performing Songwriter that his classic — now a stone-cold stoner anthem — wasn’t actually about cannabis, his actual reason for writing it sums up this high perfectly: “I had this view of the world where I can find myself smiling at stuff nobody else was smiling at.” Ah, simple euphoria.
What to do: Take an easygoing hike; try cooking a new recipe; have a really long catch-up on the front porch.
Level 3: The Air Walk
You’re cresting. You’re not just buzzed, you are buzz-ing. The Air Walk is a body high that you feel from the crown of your head down to the tips of your pinky toes. When you’re air-walking, the bathroom scale lies no matter what it says, because you definitely weigh negative 10 pounds. You almost definitely got lifted here on the wings of sativa.
What to do: Put on the vinyl and dance; go for a run in the rain; deep clean the house.
Level 4: The Dalai Lama
If The Air Walk is a body high, the Dalai Lama is the ultimate head high. On this end of the spectrum, you’re not tired, but you are supremely relaxed, with a sense of clarity that would make a mountain stream jealous. Either you’re in the perfect headspace for meditation, or you feel like you’re already meditating.
What to do: Apologize for something petty; find a fig tree and sit under it; try a little yoga.
Level 5: The Drift Off to Dreamland
In college, there was always someone who called indica “in-da-couch,” a misnomer, as many indica strains actually have a focusing effect. Sometimes, though, a high does make you want to sink into the cushions until you fall into another dimension, and we’d argue that — with the right timing — that’s a wonderful thing. Instead of beating yourself up over feeling sleepy, let go and embrace that sense of decompression like a warm hug. You deserve it.
What to do: Sip a glass of wine as slowly as you can; work out the knots on a foam roller; take a 100% guilt-free nap.
Level 6: The Full Ascension
Some call this one “blissed out,” but it can also feel like you have super-senses. The keyword here is “vivid,” sometimes bordering on the trippy, and it’s a total, full-body sensation that makes sound and vision feel like a spiritual experience. Life becomes a 4K nature documentary, color becomes hypercolor and sound becomes the front row of a Bowie concert in 1974.
What to do: Take a friend to your spot — the one with the incredible view (but let them drive); put on your best headphones and visualize the music; paint, or even better, fingerpaint.
When You’re One Level Too High
This hierarchy of highness is, of course, just for fun, but there are times when a new strain, too many pulls, an unfamiliar edible, or even just an empty stomach can make for an experience that’s less fun. If that happens, first try a simple shift in focus to a rote or familiar activity, watch a favorite movie, and get some light stretches in.
Always, always, always stay well hydrated, and offset highs that get a little too intense with healthful food. Medical News Today particularly recommends pine nuts, lemons and peppercorns. If you feel out of control, seek a safe space with friends, or come down with a hot shower, brisk walk or soothing nap. You’ll be back down to Level 1 (and then Level 0) in no time.
Dan Ketchum is an LA-based freelance lifestyle, fashion, health and food writer with more than a decade of experience. He’s been fortunate enough to collaborate and publish with companies such as FOCL, Vitagenne, Livestrong, Reign Together, Out East Rosé, SFGate, The Seattle Times and more.
Medical News Today – 8 Ways to Get ‘Unhigh’
Performing Songwriter – Behind the Songs of John Prine