Coping with Covid – Mackenzie Brown

Written by Mackenzie Brown

Coping with Covid

To put it simply – the last few months haven’t turned out quite as I’d imagined them to. Although I’d been warned by countless people about the ups and downs that come with doing a PhD, the lockdown has been an unprecedented situation that’s entirely new to us all. I was just approaching a stage where I was transitioning from working primarily at my desk (writing my literature review and completing my MSc), to working in the lab nearly full-time. The excitement of diving into my research was short lived, as I suddenly began working from home. Admittedly, I found this change hard to cope with as I’m sure others have, too. Therefore, as I reflect upon my experience, I thought I would share some of my coping mechanisms for those who are still working from home:

  • Change your expectations, because some days will be better than others and that’s okay. As a colleague said to me, ‘I think it’s sometimes forgotten that we/everyone had bad days before Covid and that was allowed.’ So what’s any different now?


  • Don’t overlook the positives and make sure to celebrate your achievements, as big or small as they might feel. Some of my personal highlights during the lockdown include passing my transfer viva and submitting my final coursework for my MSc. Having the weight of these things off of my shoulders means that I can focus all of my energy on my research going forward, which I’m looking forward to!


  • Stay connected with your peers, in whatever way works for you. Alongside the phone calls to my family, I’ve been staying regularly connected with my colleagues through virtual coffee breaks and weekly quizzes. This has kept me feeling part of a wider community of people so that, although I’m working remotely, I don’t feel as though I’m working in isolation. On a side note, I’ve also learned that the days where I’m least inclined to attend these virtual social events are the days I need it most!


  • Get outside! Even if it’s just for a short walk, I cannot stress enough how much this has helped me. Running, in particularly, has definitely helped me clear my mind so that I can start my day on the best foot, feeling accomplished and productive.


  • Choose when you watch the news (but don’t do it all day long!). It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the doom and gloom of coronavirus, and it’s okay to allow yourself a break from it!

As I reflect upon my time in lockdown, it’s clear that I’ve gained a number of skills: resilience, self-care, risk management, creative problem solving (e.g. finding ways to stay productive) and so on. I hope to carry these skills forward with me, as I begin to take the next steps and return to the labs (yay!). That’s something worth celebrating, right?


Mackenzie Brown
I graduated from the University of Southampton with a BEng in Mechanical Engineering in 2018, and began the CDT in September 2018. What previous lab experience do you have? I...
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