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Extreme Sports: exceptional mind-body states for mental health

Exceptional mind-body states for mental health: This webinar will explore the psychological qualities of those who partake in extreme sports and experiences, and what we can learn from this state of mind. Insights about the pathophysiology and remission of mental ill-health can also be gained by exploring these processes. This is an in-depth webinar that will touch on many different and interesting topics such as the role of breathing for our physiology and psychology, experiences of being in nature and how it benefits our mental health, and much more.

During this webinar you will:

  • Ascertain whether adaptability and resilience can be nurtured through extreme activities
  • Understand “flow states”, their characteristics, and how they may manifest
  • Learn the psychoneuroimmunological responses to extreme states, such as hypothermia and hyperthermia
  • Understand the importance of bodily rhythms and environmental entrainment for high performance

This meeting is held in association with RCPsych HoPSIG.


Dr Sue Jackson is an experienced psychologist and scholar with a particular focus on performance excellence and wellbeing. Sue is a registered psychologist and full member of the College of Sport and Exercise Psychology in the Australian Psychological Society (APS). With a PhD in sport psychology, and many years’ experience as a practitioner in psychology and performance coaching, Sue has an extensive tool kit from which to draw on to help create positive change and direction in people’s lives. Sue brings an extensive scholarly background in psychological aspects of performance and well-being. Sue has examined a range of issues and topics within psychology, including motivation, self-concept, stress and coping, optimal performance states, and the psychological experiences associated with performing to a high level. The primary emphasis of Sue’s work has been the application of flow theory to understanding experience, and enhancing performance, of individuals in various tasks and settings. Sue is an internationally recognised expert in the study and application of flow state to performance and experience. Sue started researching the flow concept in the late 1980’s, and her academic and applied work has helped to make the flow state both understandable and accessible to all levels of performers. Sue has published extensively on flow, including, with her mentor, and the founder of flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, “Flow in Sports: The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances”. In addition to a Hons (First Class), MSc, and PhD degrees, Sue is a mindfulness practitioner, and she incorporates both western psychological approaches and eastern spiritual traditions to her mindfulness practice and teaching. Sue has a life-long love of sport, and is presently chasing flow in open-water swimming.

Nikki Kimball Ultra Marathon Runner

Dr Stig Severinsen is a four-time Freediving World Champion and was the first person on the Planet to hold his breath underwater for over 20 minutes. Stig has set multiple Guinness World Records; amongst others ‘Longest Breath Held Voluntarily’ (20 min 10 seconds in 2010 and 22 minutes in 2013), “Longest Dive Under Ice” (set under Greenland’s freezing ice caps) and ‘Longest ocean dive on a single breath’ swimming 202.0 metres (The 2020 Dive) in La Paz, Mexico. Stig was chosen as ‘The Ultimate Superhuman’ on the Discovery Channel’s ‘Superhuman Showdown’, when he held his breath for 22 minutes underwater. With an MSc in Biology and a PhD in Medicine, Stig is the author of Breatheology® – The Art of Conscious Breathing and founder and CEO of the online platform Breatheology.com, founded to raise awareness on the power of breathing and breath-holding for improved health, rehabilitation, performance and stress resilience. A member of the prestigious (and invitation-only) Explorer’s Club, joining a field of luminaries including the world’s first to reach the South Pole, the North Pole, the deepest point in the ocean, and the first to the surface of the Moon. Stig has consulted and trained the Danish Navy SEALs and the Danish Air Force. Today, Stig spends his time personally training elite athletes and business leaders, and through his online platform Breatheology.com, with those looking to improve their breathing, health and decision-making.

Rebecca Dennis, international author of three published books, coach and workshop leader is the founder of www.breathingtree.co.uk. Based out of London and working globally as a breath coach and mentor facilitating workshops, events and retreats alongside her public speaking, she fervently believes that conscious breathwork is the ultimate key to our well-being, health and inner peace. Rebecca has been practicing holistic and breath and body based therapies for over 20 years and has trained with Judith Kravitz, Dan Brule, Donna Fahri, Max Strom and other masters and influential teachers of breathwork, bodywork and healing modalities. On her journey with holistic practices she also has trained in coaching, anatomy and physiology, somatic healing, Swedish and deep tissue massage, acupressure and shamanic healing traditions from indigenous tribes and elders. She is continually inspired by the simple power of our breath and how it can change lives including her own. Rebecca is on a mission to teach as many people as possible to empower their lives and improve their physical and mental wellbeing with conscious breathing techniques and somatic bodywork.

Professor Tipton from the Extreme Environments Laboratory, University of Portsmouth,  has spent over 35 years researching and advising in the areas of drowning and thermoregulation, environmental and occupational physiology and survival in the sea. He has published over 250 scientific papers and books including, “The Essentials of Sea Survival”. He is a Trustee/Director of Surf Lifesaving GB and member of the Council of the RNLI. Prof Tipton is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and The Physiological Society, and has been awarded a MBE for services to physiological research in extreme environments, the Ireland Medal for saving lives from drowning worldwide and the H&L Swiftwater rescue lifetime achievement award from the USA.

Dr Charles Raison, MD, is the Mary Sue and Mike Shannon Distinguished Chair for Healthy Minds, Children & Families and Professor, School of Human Ecology, and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Raison also serves as Director of Clinical and Translational Research for Usona Institute, as Director of Research on Spiritual Health for Emory Healthcare and as Visiting Professor in the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. Dr. Raison’s research focuses on the examination novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions, as well as for his work examining the physical and behavioral effects of compassion training. More recently, Dr. Raison has taken a leadership role in the development of psychedelic medicines as potential treatments for major depression. He was named one of the world’s most influential researchers by Web of Science for the decade of 2010-2019. With Vladimir Maletic he is author of “The New Mind-Body Science of Depression” published by W.W. Norton in 2017.

A CPD certificate will be issued to those joining the webinar live and will be automatically issued after 7 days to those who watched the webinar live in its entirety. Those who watch the webinar on-demand will receive a CPD certificate 30 days after the webinar has gone live.

This webinar is being held in association with the RSM Sports and Exercise Medicine Section.

Join in the conversation online using #RSMPsyc and #ExtremeSportsPsyc
Follow us on Twitter: @RoySocMed

Registration for this webinar will close 2 hours prior to the start time. You will receive the webinar link 2 hours before the meeting. Late registrations will not be accepted. 


The Royal Society of Medicine

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