Exploration of psychological resilience during a 25-day endurance challenge in an extreme environment

Harrison, D. ORCID: 0000-0001-8904-7881, Sarkar, M. ORCID: 0000-0002-8338-8500, Saward, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-9363-3410 and Sunderland, C. ORCID: 0000-0001-7484-1345, 2021. Exploration of psychological resilience during a 25-day endurance challenge in an extreme environment. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18 (23): 12707. ISSN 1661-7827

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Psychological resilience is the ability to use personal qualities to withstand pressure, consisting of the interaction between the individual and the environment over time. It is essential when operating in extreme environments which are typically characterised by a complex combination of stressors with increased elements of risk and adversity. Psychological resilience has never been investigated “live” (e.g., in the moment) throughout the duration of an extreme endurance challenge, despite anecdotal accounts of the need for resilience to successfully function in such environments. The aim of the study was to explore psychological resilience with challenge team members (n = 4, mean age = 46.0 years) involved in a 25-day extreme endurance challenge. The object of the challenge was to ‘TAB’ (Tactical Advance to Battle, fast marching with weighted packs) 100 peaks in the UK in 25 days and complete long-distance bike rides between base camps. A mixed-methods approach with a focus on qualitative methods was utilised. Specifically, individual reflective video diaries (n = 47) and focus groups (n = 4) were completed and analysed using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). At the same time, the 10-item Connor Davidson Resilience Scale was employed to measure resilience, which highlighted the individualised and dynamic nature of resilience. Two superordinate themes were identified from the video diaries and focus groups, namely, the identification of the stressors within extreme environments and strategies to maintain functioning. Stressors were split into subordinate themes of significant and every day, and collectively, they created a cluster effect which contributed to pressure associated with operating in these environments. Challenge team members employed various strategies to maintain functioning, including using a challenge mindset to positively appraise pressure as a challenging learning experience. Further research should continue to develop an understanding of how participants completing challenges within extreme environments utilise and develop personal qualities to maintain functioning.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Creators: Harrison, D., Sarkar, M., Saward, C. and Sunderland, C.
Publisher: MDPI
Date: 2 December 2021
Volume: 18
Number: 23
ISSN: 1661-7827
Divisions: Schools > School of Science and Technology
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 06 Dec 2021 17:22
Last Modified: 06 Dec 2021 17:22
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/45060

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