Emotional Experiences of Extreme Environments: A Case Study of Relieving Winter-Over Syndrome through Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)

Lead Author Anna G. M., Temp
Institution Contact 1) The University of Edinburgh Psychology Department Office G14/15 7 George Square Edinburgh EH8 9LD 2) The Institute of Geophysics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland
Co-Authors Dr Billy Lee, University of Edinburgh, Scotland Dr Thomas Bak, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
Theme Theme 4: Building Long-term Human Capacity
Session Name 4.4 Circumpolar Health and Well-Being
Presentation Type Poster
Abstract text Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) involves applying acupressure to specific meridian points, relieving unpleasant thoughts or feelings. Empirical evidence shows these techniques can alleviate depression and neurochemically, they can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. They are also relatively easy to learn, self-administer and cost-effective, making them an potentially suitable coping strategy with polar night.
The present study form spart of a wider study to assess the mental health of stass on the 38th expedition to the Polish Polar Station, Hornsund, Svalbard (PPS). The measuring points were/are July and September 2015, January, April and June 2016. Questionnaires and interviews were employed to assess any changes. One wintering team member reported extreme distress during their January interview. With the isolation of polar night, they had become increasingly sensitive and anxious about their romantic relationship, as well as about losing a family member and subsequently struggled to eat. They also described their stay as a ‚waste of life’ because they could spend their time better elsewhere. Initially, the participant experienced in considerable emotional pain, so aborting the mission to return home seemed the only option. However, the isolation of the station meant that the earliest opportunity to leave would be in March. Additionally, the team leader was concerned about the participant’s professional future, if they aborted the mission. EFT was employed with the support of the first author to alleviate rumination and anxiety and improve their experience at the PPS. After one week of supportedly exploring EFT, the participant had re-gained 1.5kg, begun to feel more safe in their relationship and had begun to shift their attention away from the family member’s potential death.