I suffer from sensory overload, which means that the over-stimulation of the modern world causes me physical pain and anxiety.
I have a strategy for when this over-stimulation happens (regularly) and a map in my mind of places I can go – for free – where I can take a few moments to get myself back in control when the state of loud becomes too much.
I hope my tips help you. All these places are free and you should not ever encounter any objection to being there, so go for it, if you find life in the state of loud too much.
These are my favourite calm places in Edinburgh, there a many, many more in this beautiful city, but the list is just for starters.
1. Public gardens
The National Health Service (NHS) Astley Ainslie Hospital and Royal Edinburgh Hospital grounds on the South Side of the city, are stunningly beautiful and free to walk through and enjoy.
There are many, many places within these two hospital sites that have special spots to sit still and enjoy nature, with no one rushing you or telling you to move on. If you’re in Edinburgh city centre, and can’t get to the South Side of town, try going to the idyllic Water of Leith where you can meander for miles in peace and quiet along the famous Water of Leith river-way and listen to the tinkle of water as you walk by.
2. Prayer rooms at airports – airports are hell for introverts but if you’re sick and tired of the neon lights, piped musak and glittering shops begging you to buy endless quantities of stuff, then head to airport’s prayer room. Every airport has a prayer room and it’s usually empty. Sit there and gather your thoughts for a few minutes, enjoy the peace and quiet and get your energy back to face the world. Prayer rooms are free spaces to use and you don’t have to be religious to use them.
3. Libraries – it’s goes without saying that libraries are safe and quiet spaces with which to engage with your mind, without the rabble of car traffic and endless people. You don’t need a library card, just go find your seat and listen to your own heart beating while you scan the glorious bookshelves. There are always toilets too.
4. Galleries – exhibition spaces – my favourite quiet gallery space in Edinburgh is the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street. It has a sublime central foyer area that has benches around it (you’ll always get a spot). Its stunningly beautiful, stained glass windows dapple the light. Portraits of famous Scots will stare down at you as you sit in the peace and quiet, and contemplate your own inner world. It’s also next to the loos too and that’s handy. It’s free, central, gorgeous and my top place for a bit of inner city soul reflection.
5. Churches – mosques – I am not religious but I really value the inner world of silence that is always prominent in religious buildings, so find a church or a mosque (although I don’t know the policy on just walking into a mosque) and go sit, think, and regain your energy before you head back out into this chaotic world. They are free to use and you don’t have to be religious to use them. No one will bother you, ever, so take the time to use them. That’s what they are there for, even if you don’t believe in god, chances are you are spiritual in some respects, or if not, maybe by using these places you will become spiritual.
6. Theatre foyers – another Edinburgh quiet space favourite are theatre foyers. You can go sit a theatre foyer and no one will ask you what you are doing there. You can gather your thoughts and take a big slice of peace and quiet, all for free. Take time to admire the theatre posters from yesteryear that will almost always be gracing the walls of any theatre foyer.
Edinburgh is my city and I adore it. It’s a city full of special places and with nature and quiet spaces weaving through it. You will know the quiet spaces in your own town/city. Use them regularly and get your mojo back every single day. You’ll feel better for it.