Preparing for the top… of the bottom of the world

65 Degrees North - Antarctica Expedition

A USW psychologist has been working with a team of former and current Royal Marines as they prepare to summit Mount Vinson in Antarctica.

The team of five, some of who have been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, are completing the 65 Degrees North expedition this month. 

Whilst they will be unsupported during the expedition, a team of experts has been working to help them prepare. This includes USW reader in sport psychology David Shearer, who is the expedition psychologist. He has been working with the team to make sure they are mentally prepared for the challenge that lies ahead.

David said: “It’s a tough expedition and they will be facing uncertain conditions. Whilst they can’t control the conditions that they will be trekking in, they can make sure that they are mentally prepared to cope with them.

“When they are under pressure they will need to make good decisions potentially when things aren’t going to plan or there is danger. But they also need to be able to stay together and work together as a team, making good decisions collectively.

“So we have spent time focusing on how well they communicate with each other, how well they make decisions at critical moments, and sometimes it may even be how they can deal with boredom. In essence we have been looking at how they can change the way that they think to effect the way that they feel, so they are restructuring their thoughts into a more positive mindset that will help them to cope with the conditions that they find themselves in.

“Hopefully these guys will come back from Antarctica, putting into practice some of the coping mechanisms that they have learnt, so that they can use those skills in every day life, whether that’s in a family, social or work environment and stressful situations.”