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"Everyday has to be meaningful." - Sandy Lim (Mental Wellness through Pickleball)

With the topic of Mental Health & Well-being gaining attention and sparking conversations about the pivotal role that Mental Wellness plays in enabling individuals to function at their best, Singapore Pickleball Association (SPA) has kickstarted a new Mental Wellness charter to encourage individuals to embark on an active journey towards bettering their Mental health and well-being. Together, we seek to raise awareness about the life-changing benefits of integrating Pickleball into our lives by showcasing the authentic perspectives of Pickleballers in Singapore.

Sandy’s first brush with Pickleball came about when one of the elderly members of the community she was volunteering with invited her to try it out. Given her love for tennis back then, the 48-year-old grassroots volunteer only decided to pick up the sport three years later and has since been actively training for it. From starting with an old wooden paddle to switching to her current carbon face paddle, her practice sessions have increased from once a week to at least three to four times a week. Aside from being a retirement activity as she enters her 50s, Pickleball has also become a competitive sport that has seen her travelling abroad for competitions, with her most recent outings being to the Asia Pickleball Open 2023 edition.

“Sports is cognitively very stimulating, similar to the game of Chess. Pickleball requires a lot of strategies and cognition because there is always something unexpected to handle. The ball always comes at you differently. This is why it keeps me wanting to get better and better each time. You also get to know people from all walks of life and gain perspectives on how to deal with life situations. More importantly, it reveals the strengths and weaknesses of others and ourselves.”

However, Pickleball holds a greater significance in her heart as it is a microcosm of her life journey. Born in Batu Pahat, Malaysia, Sandy found herself travelling across the causeway at the tender age of 19 in hopes of better career opportunities. Despite not speaking proper English, she took a bold step to apply for a placement to study nursing in Singapore after seeing an NUH advertisement offering a bursary award for interested nursing applicants. As destiny had it, she was selected to receive the bursary and spent the next three years studying for her nursing diploma. Upon graduating in 1996, she officially began her fulfilling career in the healthcare sector.

One valuable principle she holds is the need to "always seek after growth mindset". Her experiences as an avid PA and Prisons Volunteer, and as a Pickleballer, have cultivated a strength within her to step out of her comfort zone and challenge herself to become a better person than yesterday. From signing up for Toastmasters and saying yes to emceeing gigs to improve her English and public speaking skills, to pursuing a university degree in her 30s whilst juggling motherhood and a full-time job, the 48-year-old says that she is always up for a challenge and making each day count!

“You must know what you want to do and be ready for it when there is an opportunity for you. Say yes to self improvement and when opportunities come you will be ready to take them on.”

Active Ageing starts in the mind

After her stint as a nurse manager at a nursing home for dementia patients in 2012, Sandy developed a love and passion for people with dementia and wanted to do more for them. A surprise job offer to Head the Nursing & Training department of iKare, a company specialising in providing holistic caregiving solutions in home geriatric care, allowed her to do so. With new job scopes and responsibilities on her plate, Sandy, with the support of her bosses, embarked on a Master's program in Dementia Studies to deepen her knowledge in this field to provide greater value to her patients.

Sandy, conducting training for caregivers at her iKare office.

“Everyday has to be meaningful. Dementia care is not just about doing the daily things for people with dementia. We must remember that at the end of the day, they are also a person like you and me. Therefore, we must care while preserving their autonomy and respecting their dignity. Simple things like letting them choose what to eat, like noodles or rice, or what they want to do is important. Give them the chance to do things they really like to do.”

A key lifestyle implementation she often prescribes to her patients is to help them find an activity that allows them to continuously engaged in different cognitive functions such as remembering, thinking, making judgments, and reasoning. It is also why she has since been a proponent of Pickleball given how easy it is to pick up and accessible to play. Not only does its learning & creativity aspect aid in stimulating their ability to problem solve and analyse, but its physical and social component also enables players to maintain mobility of their muscles and joints along with regular social interaction.

Sandy, returning a shot during on of her competitions. (Credits: Sandy Lim)

Self-internalisation goes a long way

“I like to call Singapore a concrete jungle where everyone can be really stressed out daily. Caring for your mental wellness is critical in how you function day to day in terms of your output or in your job or family role. In order to balance them, you have to do a lot of self-internalisation or self-talk. It is easy to ask someone to stay positive but what does it mean and what actually helps?”

Given her numerous involvements, Sandy finds that a simple thing like reading a positive quote that resonates with her daily can help her to take things at a time. She also encourages her friends and others around her to be open to opportunities to grow as an individual. While it is only normal to question our capabilities or worry about how others might perceive us if we fall short, our focus should be on optimising opportunities and making the best of them. Most importantly, we should never expect life to be linear or to always align with what we want. Instead, one should embrace the ups and downs that come with it.

“Ups and downs makes life more interesting. Of course, when you are down, it will take a while to get back up again. Take your time. But remember that what goes down can always come up again. Focus only on things you can control and let go of the things that are out of your control. That is how you can become kinder to yourself.”

Posing for a shot after her matches at this year's Tampines North Pickleball Team Challenge. (Credits: Sandy)

With Pickleball in her life, it temporarily takes her mind off from daily baggage and stress from work or family challenges and helps her to focus on one thing at a time. Whether it is a particular stroke or game element that she focuses on honing and correcting in that session, progress happens when we learn to take things one at a time and enjoy the process of working towards becoming better.

Grab your limited edition SPA Pickleball paddle to get started on your towards better Mental health & well-being here:


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