Though the Harker Heights Public Library gets plenty of attention with its children’s programs and special events, there are some pretty cool new adult programs coming down the pike lately.

One of those new programs is Adult Coloring Night, which took place on Tuesday night, was brought to the community by reference librarian Christina Link.

“I’ve seen other libraries do this, (and) it seemed fun, carefree. It’s popular right now, too,” Link said.

She’s got that right. While research into coloring as therapy has only been around since the 1990s, art therapy itself has been around from as early as the 1940s.

But since research into coloring therapy began, coloring has been found to reduce anxiety and promote focus by switching off the brain from outside, intrusive thoughts. In fact, research from 2005 actually proved that coloring mandalas (a circular picture with geometric designs inside it) decreased anxiety levels.

Moreover, studies have shown that regular practice with coloring can reduce depression. And there are other benefits to adult coloring, too.

New research is showing that coloring can actually help improve physical health — one study from 2003 showed an improvement in pain levels in women with chronic illness, and another from 2007 suggests that it might actually shorten patients’ hospital stays.

Of course, there is one more reason to color. According to psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman, it gets us closer to our childish, playful sides.

With all that being said, adult coloring books have really gained in popularity in the last decade or so, with the first commercially successful adult coloring books being published back in 2012.

On Tuesday night, Link had two different sets of coloring books for people to choose from, one on owls and one titled “Take Flight,” which featured elaborate pictures of different birds.

“I chose the theme of birds because it’s John James Audubon’s birthday this month, and also Maya Angelou’s — of course, she’s well-known for her book “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Teresa Phillips of Harker Heights and her daughter, Gennavieve Culp, were in the library studying and doing homework when Adult Coloring Night started, and decided to take a break from their work to join in the fun.

“I’m de-stressing from studying for my exam tomorrow,” Phillips said as she chose a picture from the “Take Flight” book and set to coloring.

Gennavieve, who is a sixth-grade student at Eastern Hills Middle School, chose to do a bookmark because she loves to read.

“I might give it to my Reading and English teacher,” she said. She would later choose another bookmark, which she said she was planning to give to her brother, as well as a full-page coloring sheet.

Link said, “We’ll do mandalas next month,” to which Phillips replied, “I’ll try to bring my friends from school, we need a decompress day.”

As Link said, Adult Crafting Night on Tuesday, May 7, will feature coloring mandalas; the fun will begin at 6 p.m.

On Saturday, May 18, at 10 a.m., the library will be hosting a Homemade Spa Day, which will feature making homemade spa treatments.

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