By the end of the expedition I will have spent about 60-70 days on my own in the featureless landscape of Antarctica. Coping with the mental stress of being alone for this length of time and dealing with the monotony of both my daily routine and the landscape I am skiing across is key to the success of the expedition. It also presents an opportunity to learn something about the mental processes that enable self-discipline, perseverance, motivation and, ultimately, achievement when under pressure.
In preparation for the expedition, I worked with Dr Stephen Pack, a Senior Lecturer / Researcher at the University of Hertfordshire specializing in Sport and Exercise Psychology. He is an expert in the use of psychological skills by sport performers, the implementation of psychological skills training, and the use of counselling skills in sport and exercise psychology. Dr Pack taught me some tools and techniques that helped her prepare for, and process, the mental rigours of the expedition and the months of isolation in a demanding environment.
Using language as an indicator of mental process, Dr Pack is looking closely at the podcasts recorded during my expedition to chart my mental journey through my use of language. Combined with pre and post expedition sessions, he hopes to use this information to contribute to his main research interest which lies in perceptions of stress and coping, and the link between physical activity and psychological well-being, particularly in the natural environment. Ultimately it is hoped that my journey might provide some insight into the influence of physical activity on mental well-being and on what motivates individuals to achieve.