Suppose you can engage a visitor to your website through sensory language or create a warm space in your home through sensory tactics. In that case, you can create a memorable and enjoyable experience that will keep your visitors coming back.
By using sensory language that appeals to all the senses – sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch – a vivid picture is painted in the visitor’s mind and sparks their imagination, thus possibly getting them to stay longer on your site.
Similarly, utilizing sensory tactics in the home will create a warm and inviting space by incorporating elements that engage the senses – such as cozy lighting, soft and comfortable textures, soothing scents from candles or essential oils, relaxing music, and delicious aromas wafting from the kitchen. Although my mama is no longer with us, I can make her sauce or meatloaf and am instantly comforted by the smells as it cooks and the taste as it nourishes my soul.
For example, if one can consider the shape of a room, the color of a wall, the light from a window, the feel of a fabric, and the sound of a floor, their sensory signals have been tapped. These are significant opportunities to consider, as sensory signals of space and the experience they ultimately can have on someone, are powerful.
According to the definition, sensory language refers to words or phrases that create a connection to one or more of the five senses. It’s a descriptive language that plays on the reader’s senses and is tailored to invoke mental images by engaging the reader’s mind on multiple levels.
Incorporating sensory language into writing or storytelling on a website can have numerous benefits as it can engage the reader’s senses, making the text more interactive and memorable.
In an educational context, educators can bring subjects to life by using sensory descriptions, thus fostering a deeper understanding and connection with the material.
Moreover, employing witty and imaginative metaphors can make the experience (whatever it is) more enjoyable, thus, to a greater extent, creating a positive and stimulating environment.
Here are ten top authors who best use sensory language in their writing and their books that exemplify it:
- “My Heart Is Like a Zoo” by Michael Hall
- “Posy Posy” by Linda Newbery
- “My Best Friend Is As Sharp As a Pencil: And Other Funny Classroom Portraits” by Hanoch Piven
- “Twelve Terrible Things” by Marty Kelley
- “Let’s Go Home: The Wonderful Things About a House” by Cynthia Rylant
- “Seaside Stroll” by Charles Trevino
- “Arctic Lights” by Debbie S. Miller
- “Dogteam” by Gary Paulsen
- “Saturdays and Teacakes” by Lester L. Laminack
- “All Ears, All Eyes” by Richard Jackson
Looking back on when my youngest son was little, these types of books would have benefitted him greatly with his sensory challenges due to ADHD and Tourette’s!
Although, today, as an eighth grader, things are very different for him. Possibly as a result of considering sensory signals of space in designing a more peaceful, serene environment for him in his bedroom and the whole house. These sensory design tactics helped create a warm and inviting atmosphere that makes my son feel more at ease and better able to focus longer on whatever task he is engaged in, whether homework or chores. Most importantly, he doesn’t have to reach for any addictive substances or activities to find a calm and peaceful space.
Additionally, it’s essential to note that he has finally found a medicinal regimen that includes essential oils, herbs, and traditional Western medicines like Guanfacine (Intuniv). These work much better for him than Adderall to address ADHD, as stimulants set off his “motor tics” associated with Tourette’s.
Okay, we understand what sensory language is, but what are sensory feelings?
What are examples of sensory feelings?
Sensory feelings are essential to our daily experiences, allowing us to perceive and interpret the world around us. They are like little messengers that our body sends to our brain, telling us about our environment and how it affects us. We can describe the world, express our emotions, and connect with others through these sensory feelings.
Take, for instance, the phrase “feeling like butterflies are in your chest.” This standard metaphorical description is used to portray the sensation of excitement or nervousness. It vividly captures the fluttery feeling we experience when our heart races before a big presentation, a thrilling concert, or a nerve-wracking first date. It’s as if a lively gathering of butterflies has a fiesta in your chest. This description conveys the physical sensation and adds a touch of whimsy and playfulness to the experience.
Sensory feelings are also directly connected to nostalgia. Nostalgia is an idealized emotional state framed within a past era. Idealized past emotions become displaced onto inanimate objects, sounds, smells, and tastes that were experienced concurrently with the emotions.
Sensory memories are stored for a few seconds at most or as long as the sense is stimulated. Then, they are reprocessed and associated with a memory that may be stored in your short-term memory.
For example, music is incredibly nostalgic to me and I am sure countless others. Let’s look a little more into that idea…
How nostalgia works in music
I imagine I am back in my mother’s home as the meatloaf bakes and Rod Stewart plays on the Roku, where it once was played on vinyl projecting through wired speakers, in that classic crackling sound. With food, music, and a spring day, my spirit is transformed into another place where nostalgia grabs the heart.
Music is an effective means of evoking nostalgia because it can transport the listener to past times and places of their life and awaken associated emotions that are otherwise inaccessible.
Also, listening to nostalgic music is positively associated with self-esteem, and music-evoked nostalgia elevates self-esteem, instills a sense of youthfulness, and augments optimism and inspiration. Sedikides, C., Leunissen, J., & Wildschut, T. (2021). The psychological benefits of music-evoked nostalgia. Psychology of Music.
The study discussed how, in the early 1900s, nostalgia’s conceptualization shifted from a neurological to a psychiatric disorder similar to depression. But in the late 1970s, they started associating words such as warm, old times, childhood, and yearning with nostalgia more frequently than homesickness.
Examples of sensory language
In conclusion, sensory language and feelings have a remarkable power to engage our senses, evoke emotions, and create memorable experiences. Whether through vivid descriptions on a website or in a book, cozy elements in a home, or the nostalgic power of music, tapping into our senses transports us to another time and place, filling us with warmth, trust, and connection.