Playing is not just for children. Adults can also benefit from activities that some deem
In a society that demands excessive levels of productivity many of us wear “busyness” as a badge of
honour. Even in the face of burnout and the potential for nervous breakdowns, some people find the
idea of engaging in play frivolous and indulgent. However, even for grown-ups, play has a vital role
to play in our lives. According to PsychCentral “play brings joy and is vital for problem solving,
creativity and relationships.”
South Africans are burnt out. A 2018 study by the South African Depression and Anxiety
Group found that more than 40 percent of all work-related sicknesses is due to work related stress, depression,
burnout, and anxiety disorders. This was all before the upheaval of the last two years.
While engaging in playful activities will not solve all your problems, it can help reduce
stress, and stop illnesses from progressing further. Not only that, play can make you better at
problem solving, improve cognitive function and keep you young.
Clinical psychologist Muzi Madalane says there are a myriad of benefits of engaging in non-goal-
As we get older our lives become increasingly sedentary. We spend a lot of time sitting down during
work, commuting from work and, unless we actively decide to go to the gym or engage in deliberate
exercise we will not be getting as much movement out of our bodies. However, play can change this.
“As we play, we get to improve our strength, our endurance and the physical body gets to be
improved,” Madalane explains.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has found that over 1 in 4 adults don’t meet the global
recommended levels of physical activity. WHO recommends that adults spend at least 150-300
minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity or at least 75-150 minutes of vigorous
intensity aerobic physical activity.
When you engage in play you can get some of your hours in without the pressure of having to do something serious.
“As we play, we feel better, and our wellbeing is improved. Our sense of optimism and how we view
the world also gets to be improved,” Madalane says.
Being an adult comes with a lot of stressors that
can have a negative impact on our mental wellbeing. Taking time out to do something fun can alleviate
the pressures of adulthood. For seniors who have slow cognitive function, play can reinvigorate
their memories and improve the way their brains work. Madalane explains.
Parents can benefit from playing with their children. This is a healthy relationship building exercise
where parents can get to build stronger intimacy with their children. “Children get to see us
differently when we play compared to when we are in a formal space,” Madalane says.
Human beings are social creatures. Play with other adults helps build connections and relationships.
For those struggling to form connections with other people Madalane says play might just
be the solution. “Where it would be difficult to make friends, play can afford us the space to connect
Instead of going out to drink with friends, trying something new this weekend. From painting, hiking
or even throwing around a ball and blowing bubbles with your little ones. The benefits are